New SPRC and NDARC collaboration to focus on drug policy and social welfare policy

1 May 2018

Drug and alcohol policy sits at the intersection of health policy and social policy. The Drug Policy Modelling Program (DPMP) at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at UNSW Sydney has been generating new evidence to inform policy, translating evidence into useful information for decision-makers, and studying policy processes.

As part of a new collaboration between NDARC and the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC), the DPMP team, led by Professor Alison Ritter, will be joining the SPRC. This new collaboration brings exciting opportunities to integrate UNSW research in drug policy with social welfare policy.

This collaboration also provides the opportunity for pursuing research and policy advocacy in:

  • joined up, holistic government policy responses
  • the integration of social and health policy areas
  • greater inter-disciplinary endeavours across political science, public policy and health policy
  • growth in the existing policy research strengths across both the Faculty Medicine and the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences.

The new arrangement will see Professor Ritter, Dr Katinka van de Ven, Dr Claire Wilkinson, Dr Thu Vuong, Ms Michala Kowalski and Ms Kim Beadman from the DPMP team move to the SPRC in the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences. A few DPMP team members – Dr Marian Shanahan, Dr Caitlin Hughes and Dr Monica Barratt – will remain at NDARC to continue collaborations with the Faculty of Medicine.

The timeliness of this new collaboration can be seen in the current Federal Government Senate Inquiry into drug testing for welfare recipients. It is also apparent in the global efforts to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.

The report from the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Drug Law Reform (released 27 March 2018) highlighted the many portfolios involved in effective drug policy (health, welfare, education, law enforcement). In addition to this, the recent Australia21 announcement regarding the importance of a social and health response to drugs, and the ongoing attention required to structural determinants of health -- most of which reside in social policy -- further reinforce the importance of integrating health and social policy responses.

The SPRC looks forward to working with the DPMP team and to the opportunities this new collaboration brings.