Tasmanian ATOD Awards 2023

2023 ATOD Awards winners announced

The Tasmanian ATOD Awards were announced at the 2023 ATDC Conference in June, recognising outstanding work in the Tasmanian ATOD field.

The Awards are a sector-wide initiative supported by the Tasmanian Government, celebrating the many exceptional people working to promote health and prevent harms associated with alcohol, tobacco and other drugs (ATOD)  in Tasmania.

Guiding principles of the ATOD Awards include a commitment to harm reduction, a population health approach and evidence-based practice. Read more about the guiding principles.

Selection process and judging

Selection of finalists and winners is responsibility of the judging panel, with representatives from across the Tasmanian ATOD sector. Judges for the 2023 Awards were:

  • Alison Lai (Chair, ATDC)
  • Jonathan Wheeler (ATDC Lived Experience Advocate)
  • Robyn Greaves (Tasmanian Department of Health – Mental Health, Alcohol and other Drug Directorate)
  • Janine Barrow (Tasmanian Health Service – Alcohol and Drug Services)
  • Tina Goodwin (Community Sector Organisation – Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre)

The ATOD Awards Judging Panel congratulates all winners and finalists, along with everyone who nominated themselves or their peers.

Outstanding Contribution Award

This award recognises the importance of significant, distinguished contributions by an individual over a considerable period of time. The individual need not have worked in direct service delivery or even specifically in the ATOD sector. They will have, however, worked to improve the health and well-being of people affected by ATOD issues and/or have promoted health and wellbeing in the Tasmanian community through a reduction of harms associated by ATOD use.

Shirleyann Varney George Clarke

Outstanding Contribution Award Winner: Shirleyann Varney

Former CEO of the Drug Education Network

A passionate advocate for the Tasmanian ATOD sector, a comprehensive nomination was provided for Shirleyann that spoke to her leadership and significant contribution over a long period of time, before she stepped away from the sector to be the CEO of Volunteering Tasmania at the end of last year. During her time as CEO of the Drug Education Network, Shirleyann’s dedication and leadership has positioned the DEN as a leader in their field through an innovative approach, a focus on collaborative partnerships. With an unwavering commitment to increasing access to information, education and resources on drug use, Shirleyann has positioned the DEN as a leader in their field and left a lasting legacy in the Tasmanian ATOD sector.

Outstanding Contribution Award finalist: Penny Chugg

The Salvation Army

Penny has contributed a lot to the success of The Salvation Army Bridge Program over several years, including the development of national frameworks, the transition of the Program to an evidence-based program, securing additional funding, and championing the professional development of her staff.

Outstanding Contribution Award finalist: Nancy Thomas

Youth Family and Community Connections

Nancy is known for her compassion, expertise and supportive engagement of her clients, along with passionate advocacy of the Tasmanian AOD peer worker project. Over her 20 year career in the ATOD sector, Nancy has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to challenging the stigma experienced by people who use drugs.

Organisational / Program Award for Excellence

This award recognises an organisation/program that has demonstrated excellence in ATOD work in Tasmania. The program/organisation will have shown a strong commitment to the guiding principles of the awards and will have produced clear outcomes for people with ATOD issues.

Organisational / Program Award for Excellence winner: AOD Peer Workforce Project

Drug Education Network

Through their AOD Peer Workforce Project, the Drug Education Network has led the development of a peer worker training program and organisational readiness program that has seen 32 peer workers trained, alongside the development of a peer work framework and the delivery of an inaugural peer workforce symposium in Tasmania. With the nomination describing the significant amount of work that had been undertaken over the past five years as a ‘game-changer’ for the Tasmanian ATOD sector, the judges agreed that the Drug Education Network’s AOD Peer Workforce Project is a worthy recipient of this Award. From securing funding, to delivering training to 32 Tasmanians wishing to be peer workers, to working with sector partners and the Tasmanian Government – the Drug Education Network has left a legacy through this work that has underpinned the introduction of peer workers into the sector.

Organisational / Program Award for Excellence finalist: Rosny Needle and Syringe Program

Public Health Services, Department of Health

The Rosny Needle and Syringe Program actively engages with the community, participated in the Tasmanian take-home naloxone trial, is the exclusive distributor of the Taste Zine for people who inject drugs, and champions people with lived experiences.

Organisational / Program Award for Excellence finalist: The Bridge Program

The Salvation Army Tasmania

The Bridge Program is an evidence-based, trauma informed and person-centred practice offering 39 residential beds and a comprehensive suite of services including community-based withdrawal beds, outreach services to a Needle and Syringe Program, and counselling programs.

Individual Award for Excellence

This award recognises an individual that has demonstrated excellence in ATOD work in Tasmania. Individuals will have conducted their professional practice with empathy, skill and knowledge while showing a strong commitment to the guiding principles of the awards.

Mat Woolley, George Clarke

Individual Award for Excellence winner: Mat Woolley

Advocacy Tasmania

Mat is a Your Say Advocate, providing support to Tasmanians experiencing issues accessing alcohol or other drug supports and services, whose nomination spoke to his commitment to to breaking down barriers and building trust with his clients, with over 1,200 engagements over the past 5 years. The judges were impressed with Mat’s willingness to go above and beyond to reach vulnerable clients across the state with his client’s describing him as ‘patient’, ‘reliable’ and as someone who had achieved more for them than other had previously. Mat’s nomination spoke to his professionalism and commitment to developing trust, empowering his clients and being committed to supporting their human rights.

Individual Award for Excellence finalist: Paul Hathaway


Paul has made a positive impact through his outreach work with Glenorchy Community Corrections, and his work with clients in Risdon Prison. Paul’s knowledge and expertise has made him a valuable resource for many vulnerable Tasmanians.

Individual Award for Excellence finalist: Jane Heasman

Tasmanian Health Service

With 12 years experience in substance detox, in the hospital setting, through telehealth and in the community, Jane has a warm and authentic approach, and genuinely cares for the people that she supports.

Minister’s Emerging Leader Award

The Honourable Jeremy Rockliff, Premier and Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing is committed to recognising the achievements of emerging leaders in the ATOD sector. This award recognises an individual worker who is in their first five years in the ATOD sector and who excels in their work, making a visible difference to their organisation and inspiring others. The individual will have demonstrated a strong commitment to embodying the principles of the awards and to conducting their professional practice with empathy, skill, and knowledge.

Emerging Leader 2023 winner Greg Taylor and George Clarke

Minister’s Emerging Leader Award winner: Greg Taylor


Described by their nominee as a ‘rising star’ in the ATOD sector, Greg was praised for his exceptional communication skills, and his ability to consistently exceed expectations, which over the past three years has included leading the work to increase lived experience participation in ATOD community service organisations and most recently leading the development of the comprehensive work to author the business case for the independent organisation for people with a lived experience. The judges agreed that the nomination for Greg spoke both to his achievements and his leadership in the Tasmanian ATOD sector. Impressed with Greg’s tangible contributions, the judges also noted the sentiment of his nomination, which spoke to Greg’s knowledge, empathy, and passion for advocating for the lived experience voice.

Minister’s Emerging Leader Award finalist: Kerrie Dare

ATDC Lived Experience Advocate

Kerrie has participated in a large amount of individual advocacy work, with 40+ roles since becoming an advocate, including media work and presentations and is a passionate advocate for issues that impact people who use drugs.

Lived Experience Award for Excellence

This award recognises an individual or organisation that has demonstrated excellence in supporting the inclusion of people with a lived experience of ATOD use. Eligible organisations will have made a significant contribution to leading and supporting meaningful engagement, communication and collaboration between their organisation and people with a lived experience of ATOD use. Eligible individuals will have demonstrated excellence in promoting, supporting, or undertaking lived experience advocacy.

Lived Experience Award for Excellence winner: Emily Ebdon

ATDC Lived Experience Advocate & ATDC Lived Experience Project Officer

Lived Experience Award for Excellence winner: Kerrie Dare

ATDC Lived Experience Advocate

The judges agreed that both Emily and Kerrie were worthy joint winners of the Lived Experience Award for Excellence. With Emily receiving two nominations, the judges agreed that Emily’s rapport in the sector was evident, and that she is an asset not just to the sector, but to those she supports with her trademark compassion and commitment to her peers.

The panel were also impressed with Kerrie’s extensive portfolio of activity as a Lived Experience Advocate, since the inception of the Lived Experience Advocate Service over two years ago.

Lived Experience Award for Excellence finalist: Jo Murphy

ATDC Lived Experience Advocate & Anglicare Tasmania NSP worker

Respected for her willingness to share her own lived experience to build trust with a hard-to-reach community of people who inject drugs, Jo is a dedicated and respected Needle and Syringe Program worker and lived experience advocate.

Thank you and congratulations!

Thank you to everyone who took the time to nominate someone for a Tasmanian ATOD Award, the calibre of nominations was very strong. The judging panel congratulate each nominee on being recognised and inspired by their peers in the Tasmanian ATOD sector.