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Addiction Leadership Day goes offline

Around 100 addiction leaders travelled from all parts of the country to attend the long-awaited Addiction Leadership Day. Held at Sorrento Park in Auckland, it was the first in-person meeting in over a year.

The day, sponsored by the National Committee for Addiction Treatment (NCAT), is dedicated to strengthening and developing leadership in the addiction sector.

Leading the agenda were MCs Deb Fraser-Komene, co-chair of NCAT and director of Whakaata Tohu Tohu/Mirror Services, and Marc Beecroft, co-chair of NCAT and Odyssey Christchurch.

Deb Fraser and Marc Beecroft
Deb Fraser and Marc Beecroft from the National Committee for Addiction Treatment

Coming in virtually were acting deputy director-general Dr Aaran Culver at Manatū Hauora and director Philip Grady for Mental Health and Addictions at Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand

The pair both spoke of the future of health and how organisations within the sector can work better together under the new national entities.

Maria Baker, chief executive of Te Rau Ora, then addressed the room on restoration and healing of Māori through the Māori workforce. Maria said there are challenges within the education pipeline, specifically a lack of preparedness for tertiary education which relates to inequities.

Representing the New Zealand Drug Foundation were Sarah Helm, executive director, and Ben Birks Ang, deputy executive director for programmes. Their presentation showcased various services helping to create harm reduction. Ben said the goal was to remove stigma and get conversations going before people experiencing addiction issues reach their crisis point. Ben reported that a number of online services are helping to bust down the stigma and reaching more people through social media.

Ben Birks-Ang
Ben Birks Ang from the NZ Drug Foundation

Romy Lee, youth advisory/peer workforce development lead for Whāraurau, represented the Addiction Consumer Leadership Group. Romy talked about work that has been carried out by the group leading to the importance of lived experience voices and leadership.

Romy said the sector “can’t function” without the voices of people who access these services. This means there was a need to ensure the group’s presence stayed strong by thinking about the future leaders.

Te Rukutia Tongaawhikau, kaiwharite - manager of bicultural relationship, from the PGF Group completed the last part of the day with a waiata and speaking about bringing Māori values into the way work is carried out in the addiction sector. Te Rukutia’s speech was accompanied by her own artwork to represent her kōrero through visual elements.

Romy Lee
Romy Lee, a representative from the Addiction Consumer Leadership Group.
Te Rukutia Tongaawhikau
Te Rukutia Tongaawhikau from the PGF group.

During the afternoon session, a large group activity – the world cafe exercise - was facilitated to explore key issues relevant to the addiction workforce.

A summary or responses will be available at the NCAT booth at the Cutting Edge Conference in September, 2022.

Deb said it was fantastic to have addiction leaders from all aspects of the sector come together after so long.

“The benefits of hearing from the various presenters provided such a rich opportunity to consider what is important to each of us in our own mahi, our organisations and as a whole workforce. As well as what is fundamental to our sector as indicated in the world café exercise. Having updates from Te Whatu Ora and Manatū Hauora really gives us a steer on what we can platform on to ensure we are able to provide the best treatment possible to tangata whaiora. It was really pleasing to see our sector in such good health.”

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