To close out the resounding success of SMART Recovery Australia’s 2017, we held a small gathering at our head office in Woolloomooloo, for a few reasons: first, to welcome our new Board members, Jenny, Tania, and Andrew, and to celebrate all the massive achievements made by our facilitators, trainers, peers and participants over the course of the year.
Outside of SRAU in the world of policy and addiction, there have been a few steps forward: the Andrews government finally bowed to public pressure (and common sense) and announced plans to open a new safe injecting centre in Melbourne. The Federal government attempted, and failed, to launch mandatory drug testing. For SMART Recovery Australia, we now run 245 meetings across Australia and New Zealand. We also opened 19 new groups in Western Sydney this year, and expanded our online operations, with an online participant forum launching alongside online meetings and an online live facilitator refresher training completed.
Our first National Peer Forum, held in July, involved SMART Recovery peers from all over the country flying into Sydney for a day of discussion, development and strategising. In addition to that, we recruited a Volunteer National Peer Coordinator, and held a follow-up Peer refresher training webinar.
SMART Recovery Australia was fortunate enough to receive a grant from NSW Health to create a digital system for surveying participants in our meetings and their recovery success, in collaboration with our Research Advisory Committee and the University of Wollongong. This program will launch in 2018, so watch this space for more updates.
Not least among the changes experienced at SMART Recovery Australia was moving into a new office. We’ve vacated our old premises in Haymarket and moved into the sun-drenched offices of Collective Purpose, a collective enterprise with a range of other mental health and for-purpose organisations. In doing so, we’ve expanded our office team to include Liam Whelan, our Support & Special Projects Coordinator, and have room to begin involving volunteers in our ongoing expansion in 2018.
A little closer to home, Josette Freeman, our Senior National Coordinator celebrated her tenth anniversary with SMART Recovery Australia this year. Josette was one of the key pioneers in getting SMART Recovery Australia up and running in its early days, and continues to be a force of nature in spreading evidence-based, person-centred addiction recovery practices throughout Australia and New Zealand.
To cap off 2017, our assembled staff, Board, and their respective partners enjoyed a moving speech from Megan Collis, a Peer facilitator from Ipswich, Queensland, who shared her story of addiction, recovery, and her quest to make each and every day better than the last.
As we look into the new year creep ever closer, we thank all of our supporters, facilitators, partners, and participants for their ongoing contribution to SMART Recovery Australia.
Here’s to a 2018 that will be even bigger and better than the year past.