Alcohol and Drug Peer Work Development Project


A locally developed program is providing work training and professional development for people who have experienced substance use so they can assist other Tasmanian’s seeking help for their own addictions.

The project is being delivered by The Drug Education Network (DEN) in partnership with Holyoake, Salvation Army and Youth, Family and Community Connections and has received funding from the Tasmanian Community Fund (TCF), Primary Health Tasmania (PHT) and is also supported by the Tasmanian Government.

DEN Chief Executive Officer Shirleyann Varney said the peer trainees have taken great steps forward in their own recovery journey and have prepared to share their knowledge and skills to support people on their own treatment and recovery journey.

“It is well recognised that stigma and discrimination are barriers for people affected by substance use in terms of accessing treatment, support and information,” Ms Varney said.

“Research shows that people seeking alcohol and other drug treatment who engage with peer workers as part of that process, report positive experiences such as feeling understood, experiencing hope and feeling able to be more open and ask questions without being judged.

“We also know people who access peer support have reduced substance use and improved recovery capital, such as housing stability, self-care, independence and improved management of their health.”

Tasmanian Community Fund Chair Sally Darke said the fund was pleased to see the inaugral group of peer trainees complete their training.

“These Tasmanians are setting a fine example to us all and showing that through perseverance and a desire to give back they can use their experience of addiction to help others,” she said.

“Being able to support DEN by funding the training of peer workers throughout Tasmania will greatly assist the work of the alcohol and drug sector to more effectively reach people who are affected by substance use.

“The TCF has a strategic focus on improving the wellbeing of Tasmanians by supporting programs that address addictive behaviours, seek to improve mental health and reducing social isolation, all of which this peer program is doing.

“We are looking forward to seeing the peer workers graduate and make a difference to the lives of Tasmanians overcoming addiction.”

Quotes from program participants.

“The peer training program with the Drug Education Network has given me a meaningful boost of confidence and feeling of worthiness knowing that I can turn my lived experience and pain of drug addiction into a positive than I can then turn around and help share my experience to help others going through similar experiences. I feel proud to give back to the community.” (Bek)

“When I was struggling in my treatment and recovery I met a worker at the rehab I was in who had lived experience. I felt less judged knowing he understood what I was going through, he told me he had been in the same facility a few years before. He gave me hope that I could turn my life around and help other people. I feel so fortunate to be a part of this program and to have the opportunity to give back.”  (Ella)

“Participating with this program has helped me to see more clearly a better picture of a person’s individual recovery. This has also brought a better understanding toward how I see my own recovery and has taken my personal growth to a whole new level. I’m really grateful to have been invited to take part.” (Ben)

“I'm very passionate about Tasmania introducing peer support, for people that are in need of that extra little bit of support and help and initiative. It can make a lot of difference to someone that thinks there's nothing and no point left in their precious life to always push through and come out the other end with the best outcome possible and be able to believe in yourself and be proud of the person of what you have achieved, you are and know you can achieve and do anything NOW you've already faced the hardest thing of life to battle. Be brave be strong and most of all believe in yourself. Peer support is a wonderful foundation that is just beginning and hoping to expand to help our fellow Tasmanians that are seeking help”. (Ellen)

Trainee Jeffrey Ryan not pictured