A Stronger Focus on Direct Impact Through Responsive and Tailored Programs

In 2021-2022, the Drug Education Network (DEN) placed a stronger focus on direct impact through responsive and tailored programs.

DEN’s focus on direct impact has strengthened our school communities, through specialised alcohol, vaping, tobacco, and other drug education sessions. Despite COVID-19 restrictions preventing DEN’s access to schools for 3 months of the calendar year, DEN delivered to an additional 1,961 students within this period. Alongside significant student numbers, we had higher session numbers across school communities generally.

Within this period, we undertook a rigorous internal process to ensure our service delivery offerings align with our new best practice framework. This enables DEN to create a stronger impact within our training and education programs for Tasmanian workforces across the community sector and government services.

We have responded to the needs of the Tasmanian community with the launch of CODE: Community Online Drug Education, a website created to deliver on-demand resources relating to alcohol, nicotine, and other drugs.

This report celebrates the increased impact achieved through a stronger focus on responsive programs that meet the needs of the Tasmanian communities that we serve.


Acknowledgement of Country

The Drug Education Network acknowledges the strength, resilience and capacity of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people and their deep and lasting cultural heritage, and relationship as ongoing custodians of the land and waters of lutruwita / Tasmania.

We recognise that our organisation operates on the land of the traditional custodians, and we pay our respect to Elders past and present. DEN is proud to work with the Tasmanian Aboriginal community to prevent the harms caused by alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

About DEN

The Drug Education Network (DEN) is Tasmania’s trusted alcohol and other drug health promotion organisation working with you to ensure better outcomes for the communities we serve.

Our Vision

communities free from the harms of drugs

Our Purpose

to prevent and reduce harm from drugs through leadership and education

Our Values


We demonstrate professionalism through leadership, integrity, and accountability.


We treat ourselves and others with respect, fairness, and compassion.


We are a quality organisation that is both creative and evidence-based.


We are collaborative, responsive, and inclusive in all that we do.

DEN Strategic Plan

Everything we do and aim to be is guided by our vision, values, and objectives.

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How We Do It

DEN neither condones nor condemns the use of drugs. Rather, we acknowledge that drug use exists irrespective of legal status or society norms. Our goal is to meet people where they are and encourage open dialogue that empowers the individual to be the primary agent of their own physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.

Education underpins all levels of health promotion; it underpins everything we do at DEN.

Alcohol, tobacco, vaping, and other drug education helps policymakers, communities, and individuals to:

  • Gain an understanding of the harms associated with alcohol, tobacco, vaping, and other drug use
  • Lead policy and community-level actions to prevent harm before it occurs
  • Support, lead, and advocate for alcohol, tobacco, vaping, and other drug related issues to be addressed

We deliver education through a variety of channels, including community-based and school-based programs.

DEN works across the following activities to reduce alcohol and drug related harm in Tasmanian communities.

Throughout the report, these activities will be identified with the following colour codes:

Leadership, Representations, and Advocacy

  • Influence and advocacy Role
  • Strategic Plan
  • Profile in Sector
  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Public Relations

Implementation and Monitoring

  • Evidence-based Resource Development
  • Evidence-based Training
  • Monitoring Engagement

Community Education and Resources

  • Building ATOD Awareness and Education
  • Resource Provision for Knowledge Sharing

Information Dissemination

  • Communications Strategy
  • Information Dissemination to Priority Populations
  • Activity Reporting

Research and Evaluation

  • Supporting Implementation of PPEI Framework
  • Resource Feedback
  • Evaluation and Analysis
  • Academic Research

Workforce Development

  • Forums and Events
  • ATOD Awareness for Health Workers
  • Strengthen Capacity of Sector and Workers
  • PPEI Training

Report by the Board Chair

sign Iris Goetzki Acting Chairperson
sign Philip Holliday Outgoing Chairperson

As we reflect on and celebrate another year of delivering evidence-based education services across Tasmania we recognise that there is still so much more to do to prevent, delay and reduce the harms from drug use and to empower our community, in particular young people, to make informed choices around alcohol, vaping, tobacco and other drug use.

We have carried forward the momentum of 2020-21, using our learnings from the pandemic to refocus our service to deliver high-quality in-person and online education, resources and training. We continue to provide a tailored and responsive service that is evidenced to build knowledge, increase skills, change awareness, understanding and behaviours.

This year we have continued to respond to school communities, working to deliver place-based community projects through our Local Drug Action Teams, provided free resources to Tasmanian families and friends and participated in a pilot project with sector partners to develop an AOD specialist peer workforce.

We acknowledge the need for governments to continue to invest across broad social issues to put in place and enhance protective factors which holistically support the health and wellbeing of the Tasmanian community. Nonetheless, our experience tells us that targeted investment in specialist alcohol, vaping, tobacco and other drug health promotion, education and early intervention services across the state remains vital to improve the safety and well-being of Tasmanians.

We note with gratitude the Premier of Tasmania, the Honourable Jeremy Rockliff’s support for specialist evidence-informed drug education and thank our funders, the Crown through the Department of Health, Primary Health Tasmania, the Tasmanian Community Fund and the Australian Drug Foundation. We also wish to extend a special heartfelt thank-you to the families and community organisations who provide donations each year to assist us to extend our reach and support our community further.

We acknowledge and give thanks to the hard work and commitment of our skilled volunteer Board. This year we welcomed Ben Serong as Treasurer and farewelled with special thanks to our long-serving Director Wayne Moore and former Treasurer Tom Lillywhite.

The Board thanks Chief Executive Officer Shirleyann Varney and her team for their continued commitment to the vision and purpose of DEN, and their significant expertise and energy in providing specialised evidence-informed alcohol, tobacco and other drug health promotion and education to the Tasmanian community, school communities and workforces across the community sector and government.

sign Iris Goetzki Acting Chairperson
sign Philip Holliday Outgoing Chairperson

Report by the CEO

sign Shirleyann Varney CEO

DEN experienced a notable rise in demand for digital resources this year. Whilst we acknowledge that hard copy resources retain an important role in starting conversations within families, we responded and will continue to respond by providing access to safe online resources and information through our online resource ‘Community Online Drug Education (CODE)’. CODE aims to ensure resources are available to everyone at any time and is safer than using Google.

DEN continues to experience exponential demand from school communities. We forsee this trend persisting. In response, DEN will continue providing drug education that supports teachers and school nurses to deliver a whole-of-school-community best-practice approach to school drug education.

Additionally, despite COVID-19 restrictions preventing access to schools for three months of the calendar year, DEN is proud to have provided service to more school community members within this reporting period than in any period prior.

Families and friends tell us the stigmatisation associated with alcohol and drug use can prevent them from seeking information. This year we were proud to include Lived Experience Speakers in some of our training sessions, enriching learnings for all participants. As a specialist health promotion education organisation, DEN neither condemns nor condones drug use. Rather, acknowledging that drug use exists irrespective of legal status or societal norms.

We continue to recognise that people with mental health challenges may use alcohol and other drugs as a way of self-medicating, and that alcohol and other drug use can lead to mental health challenges. We also acknowledge that these co-occurring conditions do not apply to all people who use drugs. Yet, we see a trend where primary mental health prevention programs are diluting specialist drug prevention education. There is a critical role for both mental health and specialised alcohol, tobacco, and other drug services in educating and supporting Tasmanian community members. DEN will continue to advocate for specialist drug education and training for all Tasmanians.

In this 2022 annual report, we celebrate our achievements and our work with Tasmanian communities, school communities, community organisations and the sectors’ generalist and specialist workforce. The DEN team are exceptionally skilled and passionate about making a difference in the lives of Tasmanians, as is our governance-focused skilled Board. Together, we work towards succeeding in our vision for communities free from the harms of drugs.

We gratefully acknowledge the financial and in-kind support from the Tasmanian Government Department of Health, Mental Health Alcohol and Other Drug Directorate, Primary Health Tasmania, Tasmanian Community Fund, The Australian Drug Foundation, and all those community organisations and Tasmanians who have donated to DEN during this year. This generosity of supporting us allows DEN to support better health outcomes for all Tasmanians.

sign Shirleyann Varney CEO

Impact Report

Here is how we built on knowledge, increased skills, changed awareness, and understanding across all service provisions in 2021-2022:

We built people's knowledge 92% 92% of session participants 'Strongly Agreed' or 'Agreed' with the statement "i have built on my knowledge of this topic"
We increased people's skills 83% 83% of session attendees 'Strongly Agreed' or 'Agreed' that they intended to change their practices or behaviours around topic
We changed people's awareness 87% 87% of session participants 'Strongly Agreed' or 'Agreed' with the statement "I have changed awareness and knowledge about the topic"

The People We Support

DEN provides services to three primary client types, ensuring that sessions, information and resources are tailored to meet the needs and circumstances identified by these cohorts as and where required.

Feedback Testimonials about DEN’s training for AOD peer workers:

DEN asked: What was the most valuable learning you had in any of the training sessions so far?

DEN asked: Do you have any other feedback you would like to share?


DEN provides education and support to the community through our Community Online Drug Education (CODE) website, our local Drug Action Teams (LDAT), and through our local-call 1300 number for community members to access information or referrals to ATOD services relevant to their needs and circumstances.

Jordan River Services Community capacity-building program

This program improved community capacity to engage with general ATOD health prevention messaging. The participants learned how to engage in supportive and caring conversations with others, particularly those who could benefit from reducing and preventing harm from the use of ATOD during pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding.

CODE: safer than a Google search

DEN launched Community Online Drug Education (CODE) in June 2022 to meet the community’s need for trustworthy, accessible, evidence-based alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD) educational resources. The information uploaded to CODE is tailored to parents, friends, family members and guardians who are looking to learn more about ATOD topics, or who might be dealing with an ATOD related issue for the first time. All content uploaded to the site is health literate and verified by a DEN team member to be trustworthy, accurate, and relevant to a Tasmanian audience.

The CODE site launched with a small suite of ‘Community Conversations’ resources

‘Community Conversations’ are small topic-focused resources collating ‘need to know’ information and resources into a guided module or page that addresses common topics, areas of interest or concern amongst Tasmanian Community members. At the time of its launch, CODE hosted Community Conversations focused on Vaping, Alcohol, and Cannabis. DEN plans to expand on the Community Conversations topic areas and produce additional content topics with the appointment of a Project Officer to focus test and develop additional resources in the forthcoming 2022-2023 reporting period.

Improved outcomes through greater access to resources

DEN improves health outcomes through greater access to free online resources, hard copies, and free monthly resource giveaways—in The Connection and via CODE.

1249 digital resources downloaded from the DEN website and the new Community Online Drug Education website launched in June this year.

DEN has several resources available to community members that centre on improving quality of life as is relevant to the individual’s needs and/or circumstances.

In the 2021-2022 reporting period, DEN distributed 774 hard copy resources that assisted members with alternative pain management practices, improved knowledge around the ageing body and alcohol, tobacco and other drug consumption, and evidence-based information on the effects of Cannabis during pregnancy.

Hard Copy Resource Recap

  • 78 copies of 'More Options for Managing Pain' resources were distributed
  • 80 copies of 'Wiser and Older' resources were distributed
  • 79 copies of 'Addressing Cannabis Use in Pregnancy' (worker) resources were distributed
  • 70 copies of 'How Are You Doing?' DEN/ Australian Lions Drug Awareness Foundation Co-Branded Resource
  • 73 copies of 'Worried?' DEN/ Australian Lions Drug Awareness Foundation Co-Branded Resource
  • 101 copies of 'Questions About Cannabis and Pregnancy' (Community) resources were distributed

We continue to receive feedback from community members that hard copies of resources are preferred for starting conversations with family members.

DEN partners with Huon Valley council in an ATOD harm reduction and awareness campaign

DEN undertook a consultancy role with the Huon Valley council in an ATOD harm reduction and awareness campaign for community members in the Huon Valley impacted by alcohol and other drug use.

DEN partners with workers from the community, health, education, and AOD sectors, as well as community members to share stories and information about prevention

By sharing stories and reflections, this project aims to share accessible and engaging resources with the broader Tasmanian community to educate people about the value of prevention, explained in simple language. A number of resources have been shared via social media (example below). This project is still in progress.

Social Media Health Promotion Campaigns and Activities

DEN continues to utilise its social media channels to share preventative messages and campaigns. Within this reporting period, DEN has increased the number of promoted and ‘boosted’ posts to counter changes to Facebook’s algorithm and ensure a wider audience of followers are able to view and engage with DEN’s content.

The majority of DEN’s Facebook posts contain health promotion messages with awareness raising of relevant ‘AOD Awareness Days’, links to resources, videos and ‘top tips’, alongside posts that share awareness of and support for other Tasmanian researchers, health promotion campaigns or allied sector AOD initiatives.

School Communities

DEN witnessed higher engagement than in any previous period, despite 3 months where schools were unable to accept outside services due to COVID-19.

DEN delivers School Community Drug Education Program

In-line with best practice principles, DEN’s School Community Drug Education program aims to provide up-to-date evidence-based alcohol, vaping, tobacco, and other drug education to students. While improving the capacity and knowledge base within each school to lead their own sustainable, whole-of-school approach to drug education.

The full suite of School Community Drug Education provided by DEN includes:

  • Small Group Classroom-Based Sessions
  • Grade / Year-Group Assemblies
  • Teacher Professional Development
  • School Health Nurse Consultancy
  • Parent Symposiums
  • School Health Expos

Strong Service Provision = Better Health Outcomes

DEN conducted a review and update of all school session contents to strengthen vaping related content. We provide feedback reports for all school community education sessions ensuring teachers are aware of the strengths and any gaps in the student’s knowledge to promote better support for our young people.

Greater educational sessions delivered in 2021-2022

DEN delivers best practice health promotion education to schools in classroom and assembly settings, and parent symposiums. We also deliver evidence-based AOD health promotion, prevention and early intervention training to school nurses, teachers, and to AOD specialists and the generalist workforce who work within school communities.

98 Educational Sessions
were delivered to 2839

We delivered more education sessions to more participants this year than last year.

This past year DEN has delivered more education sessions to more participants than the previous year. DEN also delivered to two Higher Education Organisations (the University of Tasmania and TasTAFE). The total number of service provisions provided to learning facilities within this reporting period was 75.

Generalist and Specialist AOD Workers

DEN provides training and education sessions relating to stigma, referral pathways, brief interventions, and motivational engagement training. This cohort is typically made up of nurses and community sector service workers (homelessness services, corrections, and community support).

To break down stigma and discrimination, we provide the opportunity for DEN’s Lived Experience Speakers to share with GPs and practice nurses the stigma experienced in our primary health care system. We know that the voice of lived experience is valued in these trainings.

Our lived experience speakers provide insight for frontline staff in organisations where people seek emergency shelter about their experiences and the positive and negative attitudes and behaviours of staff and how that affected their situation.

“Jonathan the peer worker’s input was valuable and inspiring. Amazing effort Jonathan thanks for doing what you do.”

“Thank you Ella (Peer Workforce Graduate) for sharing your lived experience.”

Some feedback from people in recovery talking about the value of working with AOD Peer Workers:

Delivery of Brief Intervention training

DEN provides two levels of Brief Intervention training to generalist AOD workers to ensure workers are skilled and encouraged to engage clients in reflection around their quality of life and use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs where and when appropriate opportunities occur.

Brief Intervention Training Session Stats

100% of participants who completed the survey rated the training as good or excellent.
100% participants who completed the survey said they are ready to apply what they have learned.

Some feedback:

AOD Peer Workforce Development project

This year the final group of AOD Peer workers graduated from the training program resulting in 32 specialist workers for the AOD sector.

Highlights for the project in this reporting period include:

  • A panel event undertaken by Peer Workers and representatives from partnering organisations at the ATDC Conference
  • Participation by graduates of the Peer Work Training Program in a panel about Peer Work at the TASCOSS Conference
  • The acceptance and exhibition of a poster presentation explaining the Peer Workforce Project at the TASCOSS Conference
  • A feature article about the success of the Peer Workforce Project in Primary Health Tasmania’s twice-yearly magazine: ‘Health Matters’
  • Social media promotion by Tasmanian Community Fund

Our partners from across the state ensure that peer workers are represented from all regions of Tasmania:

  • Holyoake
  • The Salvation Army
  • Youth, Family, and Community Connections

Funders for the AOD Peer Workforce Project

  • Tasmanian Community Fund
  • Primary Health Tasmania
  • Department of Health

To view DEN’s latest Peer Workforce Project update (as well as prior updates regarding the Peer Workforce Project), please visit DEN’s website

Systems Improvements and Quality Improvements

Development of the Best Practice Framework and Program Logic tool

DEN has leveraged new methodologies and shifted internal structure to deliver stronger training and education offerings. In turn, producing better outcomes for our community.

Implementation of a New Queueing Process to Manage High Demand for Services

DEN continues to refine our new “request for service” queueing process as demand for our services remains high. DEN utilises a central referral queueing system to ensure equity, transparency, and consistency of service to all clients seeking service from DEN.


  • Salaries & On-costs

    Paying our qualified and talented staff to keep delivering high-quality service to Tasmanians

  • Administration/Communication

    We’ve got to dot the i’s and cross the t’s to ensure we run DEN properly and remain an accredited and well governed service

  • Education Projects/Resources

    To cover our community program expenses, adapt/develop/print resources, and share important health promotion messages across social media platforms and local radio

  • Premises

    Keeping the lights on (literally)—even though we work a lot from home now, our office is still an important space for our people to meet & collaborate

  • Vehicles & Travel

    Providing transportation options to our educators making sure they can travel across our beautiful state to provide training & education sessions in our schools, and with our AOD professional and generalist workforce

Thank-you to our Funders & Partners

Our impact is greater, because of you.

Advocacy Work

DEN has actively taken part in several consultative initiatives, always championing the importance of prevention and investment in health promotion education.

The State FASD Coordination Group

DEN provided secretariat support to the group as required and continues to provide stakeholder input as requested by the Directorate. This involvement includes updating the DEN FASD Handbook for AOD Specialists and Generalist workers with partner NOFASD AUS.

The Young People Smoke Free Working Group

DEN is represented by two team members at the Young People Smoke Free Working Group, who provide input and expertise into activities and the Smoke Free Young persons plan as and where required.

The Tobacco Control Coalition

DEN has contributed to the development of the Tobacco Action Plan through the working group and attended the launch which coincided with specialised tobacco-centred educational sessions at Campania District school.

Submissions to the Tasmanian Drug Strategy

DEN provided two submissions to the Tasmanian Drug Strategy within this reporting period, one authored by DEN, the other authored in collaboration with DEN’s Primary Prevention and Early Intervention (PPEI) Community of Practice (COP).

National AOD Workforce Development Strategy

DEN provided a response to the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA) National Alcohol and other Drug Workforce Development Strategy 2022.

Consultation with the Peak Body (ATDC)

DEN is an active participant in all Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council of Tasmania consultation activities for state and national submissions to Government.

PPEI Implementation Plan

DEN remains engaged with ATOD and allied sector workers in activities that promote the PPEI Framework and plan. This is primarily achieved through regular meetings of DEN’s PPEI Community of Practice (COP), and through the dissemination of the Brief Intervention (BI) Framework.

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Our Board

Philip Holliday Chairperson (President) Stepped down 1 June
Iris Goetzki Chairperson (Acting) Since June 1
Allison Matthews Vice Chairperson
David Daniels Public Officer
Wayne Moore Ordinary Member Resigned Feb 22
Simon Angilley Ordinary Member
Tom Lillywhite Treasurer Resigned Oct 21
Angela Waite Ordinary Member
Jessica Brewer Ordinary Member
Sam Alexander Ordinary Member
Ben Serong Treasurer (Chair of the Finance and Risk Subcommittee) Since Oct 21

Our Team

Shirleyann CEO
Anita Finance Officer
Maria AOD Peer Worker Project Lead and Educator
Dave Educator
Elida Policy & Research Officer Resigned Dec 21
Zoe Project, Systems & UX Developer
Deni Operations Coordinator Since Mar 21
Kory Finance and Payroll Assistant
Robert Educator Since July 21
Marion Local Drug Action Team Lead Since June 21
Adrian Technical and Service Support Assistant Resigned May 22
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