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AADANT Drug and Alcohol Conference 2023: Together We Make A Difference

23 May. 2023 to 24 May. 2023

The Association of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies NT will hold their annual Northern Territory drug and alcohol conference May 23-24 in Darwin at the Darwin Hilton (32 Mitchell St).

This year's theme is Together We Make a Difference acknowledging the varied and important roles throughout the NT AOD Sector and how we can continue to collaborate more efficiently to provide clients with the best treatment and experience possible.

The 2023 AADANT Conference will explore research and evaluation of programs and therapies within Australia, new and innovative NT programs, collaboration and much more. Keynotes will be released before the end of the year, with registration opening next month.  

Want to have a static display?

During the two-day conference, there will be an opportunity for organisations to bring banners, pamphlets, posters, and information about their services and programs to sit on tables in a dedicated space. This provides an opportunity for information sharing and networking. If you would like to host a static display, please contact to sign up.

Want to become a sponsor?

We can’t put these events on without the support of our community. If you’re interested in becoming a sponsor of the AADANT 2023 Alcohol and Other Drug Conference, please email

Early Bird Tickets for the 2023 AADANT conference are now live – you can get them at:



Keynote Speakers

AADANT is excited to announce our keynote speakers for our upcoming conference on 23-24 May 2023. In response to feedback from the NT AOD sector, we believe we have secured a group of speakers who will provide insightful, knowledgeable, and fascinating presentations that will leave our conference delegates with plenty to think about and take back to apply in your workplaces. 


 Dr Peter d’Abbs is a sociologist with an extensive research background in alcohol and other drug policy issues and program evaluation. He holds Honorary positions with the Menzies School of Health Research, Darwin, and the School of Public Health, University of Queensland. Recent projects include a national evaluation of the impact of low aromatic fuel on petrol sniffing in Indigenous communities, and evaluations of alcohol management plans in several towns and remote communities. From 2001 to 2010 he was a Director of the Alcohol Education & Rehabilitation Foundation (AERF – subsequently renamed Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, or FARE), and in 2007 he was placed on the Honour Roll of the National Drug and Alcohol Awards for his research into substance misuse in remote and regional settings. Between 2016 and 2021 he was a committee member of the NHMRC Alcohol Working Group appointed to update the NHMRC drinking guidelines.

A/Prof Kylie Lee was born and raised in Darwin, but works as Associate Professor at the University of Sydney, and is based in Naarm on Wurundjeri Country (Melbourne). Her research on alcohol and other drug use is led by community or health service requests. Kylie is lead editor on a clinical textbook requested by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander alcohol and other drug workers nationally. She also leads a program of work to improve how we ask people about drinking and drug use, and also offer tailored brief intervention, using digital applications.

Mrs Helen Lalara is an Anindilyakwa woman and Senior Aboriginal Health Worker from Angurugu Health Centre. She has been in this role for more than 20 years. She has been a tireless advocate for improving the health of the Anindilyakwa people, via her clinical work and her collaboration on a range of research projects, including on gunja, alcohol, tobacco smoking and mental health. Helen is one of Kylie’s big sisters and is definitely the one who is always right.

Ms Nicole Hewlett is a proud Palawa woman from lutruwita (Tasmania) with demonstrated knowledge translation experience in a range of areas including palliative care, suicide prevention, Close the Gap policy, cancer prevention, diabetes management and maternal use of alcohol, tobacco and other substances.   Nicole is currently undertaking a PhD, holds two positions with University of Queensland, and is a board member and Treasurer of the National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (NOFASD). At University of Queensland, Nicole works in the First Nations Cancer & Research Wellbeing team as well as the Child Health Research Centre in a collaboration to revise the FASD assessment and diagnostic guidelines. From 2016 – 2021, Nicole was a committee member of the NHMRC Alcohol Working Group, appointed to update the NHMRC alcohol drinking guidelines.

Dr Melinda Beckwith has worked in the AOD field for two decades, in research, education, and clinical roles. In recent years, she has been working as a consultant, primarily with Therapeutic Communities (TCs), and is currently the Dual Diagnosis Practitioner at Windana’s largest TC in Victoria. She also holds a position with the Matilda Centre at the University of Sydney, where she is working on a project to build mental health capability within AOD services in NSW. Melinda’s PhD focused on understanding the key factors and mechanisms in the process of recovery from addiction. This evolving knowledge base continues to inform all her work.


Keynote Presentations:

Learning from 50 years of Aboriginal alcohol programs: beating the grog in Australia – Peter d’Abbs and Nicole Hewlett

In the half-century that has passed since Aboriginal Australians became legally entitled to drink alcohol (after being prohibited from doing so for around 100 years), many programs have been adopted in efforts to prevent or treat the harms flowing from alcohol misuse. Some have led to short-term benefits in particular settings, a few have led to more sustained change, but the evidence base from initiatives to date remains sparse. We know little about what works, where, or why. In an effort to learn the lessons from past efforts – both successful and not so successful – and to strengthen the evidence-base going forward, the authors of a new book have brought together selections from original writings as well as their own explorations of actions by Aboriginal communities and organisations aimed at reducing alcohol-related harms. The book is not about drinking or the harms that can flow from drinking, but about solutions. This presentation will unfold key insights from this book to, as June Oscar states, “develop the approaches and model to heal and reconstruct healthy, safe, and flourishing societies.”


Gunja in our communities: how many people are using and what can we do? – Kylie Lee and Helen Lalara

Cannabis can be seen as a drug that calms people down. Some community Elders have told us they would rather their young people smoke cannabis rather than drink alcohol or sniff petrol. In this talk, we look at how many people use cannabis, according to available data; and what impact can it have – for individuals, families and whole communities. We then consider what communities can do to address heavy cannabis use, including the use of digital tools to help measure how much people use and offer tailored feedback.





Finding the Ganma in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder – Nicole Hewlett

Water is a symbol of knowledge in Yolgnu philosophy and the theory of ganma (pronounced gar-na) is where streams of knowledges combine and lead to deeper understanding and truth. The Yolgnu people have drawn on this as a metaphor for how Aboriginal knowledge (represented by fresh water), and Western knowledge (represented by sea water) mix with each other to form the creation of new knowledge, generated from the interaction and collaboration of Aboriginal and Western knowledges.

The Yolgnu people explain that the foam (created by the mixing of the two waters) retains individual particles of both fresh and salt water, which continue to carry their own identities and memory. If the foam is cupped roughly in the hands, it evaporates; it must be held gently to reveal its true nature. It is also necessary to be quiet and patient, and to listen deeply to hear the foam’s soft sound.

This presentation brings together the findings drawn from deeply listening to the soft sounds of Western wisdoms (medicines and therapeutic models) and Aboriginal wisdoms (strength-based approaches grounded in holistic and integrated support), to create new knowledge and practice that offers immense benefit to equity, justice, support and healing for all Australians living with neurodiversity.


The Journey of Recovery – Melinda Beckwith

For decades, treatment for alcohol or other drug addiction has been provided with little understanding of the process of recovery to act as a roadmap. There has been a lot of focus on what people are moving away from but not on what they are moving toward, and more focus on individual pathology than on environment or social context.

Over the last 20 years, research into recovery has rapidly expanded.  We now have a much better understanding of recovery, but this has yet to translate into necessary changes in policy and practice. This talk will discuss what recovery looks like, what supports and sustains recovery and what can get in the way. It aims to help treatment providers develop a roadmap for their work, as well as opening up conversations of other ways to support people on their recovery journey beyond the standard counselling and case management approaches.