The impact of substance misuse on families, communities and vulnerable populations will be a focus of the 2019 NDARC Annual Research Symposium with special guest speakers sharing their expertise and lived experience.

Professor Ju Lee Oei will discuss the outcomes of children diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), a withdrawal syndrome occurring in more than 75 percent of opioid-dependent mothers and one of the fastest rising public health problems in the world.

Children with a history of NAS are at risk of pervasive and long-term problems that have the potential to impact adversely not only on the child, but the family and society for generations.

“Ensuring the best early life outcomes for children with NAS may prevent the propagation of lifetime and intergenerational vulnerability and disadvantage for millions of children worldwide,” Professor Oei said.

Professor Oei is a Neonatologist at the Royal Hospital for Women, Conjoint Professor in Paediatrics at the University of New South Wales and Visiting Medical Officer in Addiction Medicine in the Murrumbidgee Local Health District.

Dr Gabrielle Carey will speak about the family experience of mental illness and substance abuse, including the contentious area of communication between family members and hospital staff when a young person is suffering from psychosis.

In particular, she will consider the difficulty of distinguishing between drug-induced psychosis and psychosis caused by a mental illness and whether the current fashion for ‘avoiding labels’ is helping or hindering outcomes for young people with mental illness and substance abuse issues.

Dr Carey’s current area of research is an investigation into schizophrenia and recovery.

Dr Carey is the H.C. Coombs Creative Arts Fellow at Australian National University. Gabrielle published her first co-written book, Puberty Blues, while still in her teens and has since written biography, autobiography, memoir, essays and articles.

Dr Julie Mooney-Somers will present on SWASH, the longest running periodic health survey of lesbian, bisexual and queer (LBQ) women in the world.

LBQ women’s health has often been considered synonymous with general women’s health, yet international evidence suggests distinct patterns of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use.

Dr Mooney-Somers will describe the use of these substances among LBQ women and to encourage researchers to collect and report on sexuality and gender identity.

“It is clear that LBQ women’s alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use deserves further research and policy attention,” Dr Mooney-Somers said.

Dr Mooney-Somers is a Senior lecturer, Sydney Health Ethics at the School of Public Health, University of Sydney. Since 2012, Julie has served as director of ACON, Australia’s largest LGBTQ health promotion organisation.

The 2019 NDARC Annual Research Symposium: Responding to clinical, community and family needs is being held on Wednesday, 16 October 2019 at UNSW Sydney.

Registration is now open – click here to register.

Click here for more information about the 2019 NDARC Annual Research Symposium including the full event program and speaker bios.