Staying on Track Through the New Normal: A Year of Momentum

Our service has changed to ensure we can always provide our community with a COVID safe service.

In 2019-2020 we undertook a digital transformation and in 2020-2021 we have continued to embrace the momentum, innovating and improving our service to meet our communities' needs in new and better ways. The 2020-2021 Annual Report celebrates the momentum DEN has gained through embracing our new normal.

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.

DEN’s Mission

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

is communities free from the harms of drugs

Our Mission

is 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 2019-2024

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

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A Note from the Board Chair

sign Philip Holliday Chairperson

On behalf of the Drug Education Network (DEN) Board, I am delighted to present DEN's Annual Report for the 2020/2021 financial year.

It is an opportunity to share and celebrate the achievements of DEN over the last 12 months, and to recognise the important contribution made by the DEN Board, staff, and our partners, in working towards our vision that communities are free from the harms of drugs.

The DEN Board continued to build on the momentum created by 2019-2020 in embedding the Board of Governance framework, focusing on delivery of quality improvements underpinning the excellence of DEN's service provision.

The organisation successfully undertook the Quality Improvement Council’s Health and Community Services (QIC) Standards accreditation through Quality Improvement Processes (QIP). As a result, DEN achieved the recognition of meeting all relevant accreditation standards. This accreditation assures Tasmanians that as DEN marks 35 years of service to the Tasmanian community, they can continue to trust the DEN brand as a quality health promotion service.

We also strengthened our financial governance systems and processes through an external audit review. The results provided assurance that DEN’s systems were robust and to standard, and in addition, we have implemented the report's recommendations to further our pursuit of excellence.

I would like to thank all Board members for their ongoing commitment, hard work and energy during this demanding year. In particular, I would like to extend my thanks and welcome to new Directors Angela Waite, Iris Goetzki, Jessica Brewer, and Sam Alexander, to DEN's skills-based Board. I also extend a very special thanks to our long serving past Treasurer Emma Lovibond, who left the DEN Board in October 2020.

Despite the challenges in responding to an unprecedented demand for service, DEN has maintained a solid financial position in 2020-2021. DEN appreciates the ongoing support of the Tasmanian Government, particularly the Deputy Premier, Minister for Health and Mental Health and Wellbeing, Hon. Jeremy Rockliff MHA, for their continuing support and assistance.

DEN will continue to invest in the quality of our state-wide services, developing a best practice framework for alcohol and other drug health promotion to ensure better outcomes for the communities we serve in this coming year.

sign Philip Holliday Chairperson

A Note from the CEO

sign Shirleyann Varney CEO

The Drug Education Network (DEN) celebrates 35 years of being a trusted health promotion organisation working to prevent and reduce harm from drugs through leadership and education.

DEN continues to respond to the challenge of increasing demand for our services, harnessing the momentum for change created by the impact of COVID to improve and extend online service provision. The extended service delivery options enable DEN to provide training and resources to community front line workers, school communities, and families. Support from the State Government in this year's budget will assist DEN in responding to the unprecedented and increasing demand for DEN's services from Tasmania's school communities and community service sector.

As we adapt to the new normal and navigate ongoing change, DEN remains focused on quality improvements to our service to ensure better outcomes for the communities we serve. This year, DEN was proud to achieve external recognition of the governance of our work practice and systems from QIP.

This accreditation benchmarks our service against industry standards and provides confidence for Tasmanians in the quality of DEN's service. DEN is a values-based organisation, and collaboration is an essential cornerstone value for the organisation, reflected through DEN's internal practices, workplace culture and engagement with external stakeholders.

Throughout the year, the exceptional DEN team has engaged with the Tasmanian community through many successful initiatives celebrated in this report, working in partnerships with other community organisations invested in improving Tasmanian people's health and well-being. As an efficient, impactful, and agile organisation, our team is supported by many specialist consultants that work with us throughout the year, ensuring program evaluation, effective social media health promotion campaigns and providing internal support to the team and organisational improvements.

We gratefully acknowledge the financial and in-kind support from the Tasmanian Government Department of Health, Primary Health Tasmania (Tasmania PHN), The Tasmanian Community Fund, The Australian Drug Foundation, and donations from many organisations, including the Friendly Care Pharmacies Hobart and MyState Bank. Donations help us stretch our funding – a big thank you to all who have donated to DEN, supporting our educational resources and training to achieve better health outcomes for all Tasmanians.

sign Shirleyann Varney CEO

Our Board

We are grateful for the regular direction, guidance, and oversight provided by our Board Directors.

Philip Holliday Chairperson (President)
Allison Matthews Vice Chairperson
Wayne Moore Ordinary Member
Simon Angilley Ordinary Member
David Daniels Founding Board Member and Public Officer
Angela Waite Ordinary Member Since Oct 20
Iris Goetzki Ordinary Member Since Oct 20
Tom Lillywhite Ordinary Member Since Oct 20
Sam Alexander Ordinary Member Since Oct 20
Jessica Brewer Ordinary Member Since Oct 20

Our Team

We couldn’t do what we do without the varying backgrounds and unique skill sets from our small, but mighty team.

Shirleyann CEO
Anita Finance Officer
Maria AOD Peer Worker Project Lead and Educator
Dave Educator
Kory Finance and Payroll Assistant
Elida Policy & Research Officer
Deni Service Coordinator Since Mar 21
Zoe Project, Systems & UX Developer
Mary-Jane Administration Coordinator Till Mar 21
Michelle Educator Trainee Till Mar 21
Adrian Technical and Service Support Assistant Since July 21
Maurice Educator Retired Jun 21
Robert Educator Since July 21
Marion Local Drug Action Team Lead Since June 21

A Year In Review

Let’s take a closer look at DEN’s achievements over the last 12 months — and how the team continues to build momentum across multiple service pillars including health promotion, prevention, community engagement, harm reduction, policy influence, health literacy, program evaluation and skills development.

DEN informs the Tasmanian Government through submissions and involvement in consultations

As a trusted health promotion organisation working towards communities free from the harms of drugs, DEN informs the Tasmanian Government through submissions and involvement in consultations.

  • DEN Response to: Draft Tasmanian Drug Strategy 2021-27 Consultation Paper – 1st Phase consultation with key stakeholders November 2020
  • DEN Response to Our Healthcare Future | Immediate Actions and Consultation Paper, February 2021
  • Government Briefing Paper: ‘Why Tasmania Benefits from an Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs (ATOD) Promotion, Prevention and Early intervention (PPEI) Organisation.’
  • DEN is actively supporting the State FASD Coordination Group, Chaired by Mental Health and other Drug Directorate (MHADD) with FASD initiatives around the state — encouraging information, resource sharing and communication between independent FASD related projects and initiatives.
  • DEN is a member of several DHHS working groups including, Tobacco Control Coalition, Smoke Free Populations and Smoke Free Young People.

”Promotion, Prevention & Early Intervention Mapping Tasmania, Report” for: Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug Directorate

DEN conducted a mapping exercise to identify alcohol, tobacco, and other drug (ATOD) prevention initiatives and services offered across Tasmania. The mapping extended beyond the ATOD sector, where services are known or where information is easily accessed.

These services covered PPEI initiatives across the spectrum of community services, including local government and social and sport organisations who support community members at risk of harmful use of substances.

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Tackling Accidental Pharmaceutical Medication Overdose - Whole of Project (TAPMO WOP)

DEN, in partnership with the Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drug Council Tasmania (ATDC), University of Tasmania, and pharmacists in Smithton, Queenstown, Triabunna and Wynyard, collaborated on providing education about accidental drug overdose in Tasmania from poly-drug use — including alcohol and other prescribed medications for anxiety, depression, and pain management. Pharmacies are also using prescription folds to educate consumers about the risk of poly-drug use.

DEN further engaged communities by providing interventions and resources via a number of media campaigns. Among others, a series of community radio prevention messages shared in April, May, and June of 2021 on HIT 100.9, Triple M and HO FM, invited listeners to engage in a brief intervention.

Our project, ‘wungana makuminya (Turning the Path)’ was a shortlisted finalist at the Tasmanian ATOD awards

We are so proud to be a short-listed finalist for the wungana makuminya (Turning the Path) project at the 2021 ATDC Conference Awards. This project was delivered in 2019 with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre and resulted in 26 students, of which 22 were Tasmanian Aboriginal, obtaining a Certificate IV in Alcohol and Other Drugs.

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Our leadership in PPEI initiatives continues

DEN has continued to lead a Primary Prevention, Education and Intervention (PPEI) Community of Practice (COP), inviting professionals across various health promotion sectors to come together to discuss and promote PPEI best practice, and share and collaborate on PPEI Initiatives.

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Supporting frontline staff across community and government services with professional development opportunities

These types of sessions intend to equip community sector staff with skills and strategies to carry out effective brief interventions and/or reduce stigma when staff interact with at-risk or vulnerable populations. Some examples include:

  • FASD information sessions for school health nurses. DEN responded to a request for an information session on FASD by creating a ‘FASD for school health nurses’ training video. This approach was taken in response to COVID-19 capacity restrictions and as a means of providing flexible and professional learning opportunities for school health nurses.
  • Professional sessions with ATOD, allied health and community sector organisations. These sessions covered topics such as; brief intervention theory, stages of change, why addiction happens, reflective listening, referral pathways, best-practice language, stigma and harm card sessions.
  • Educational sessions to Honours and Master of Education Students on all campuses across the state. Within the 2020-2021 period, DEN developed and recorded a training video for the Master of Teaching students. This video covered the principles of drug education and best practice drug education approaches in primary schools. The video resource was developed in response to COVID-19 social distancing requirements and as a flexible learning resource for students.
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Everybodys.Business website under review - Launching 2022

While the Everybodys.Business website has remained accurate and accessible for all members of the Tasmanian community, it has and continues to undergo some improvements and changes.

Relaunching next year as ‘Community Online Drug Education’ (CODE), the website has moved to a new web hosting platform (Webflow). The change allowed DEN to improve design and usability elements, increasing the site's overall accessibility and functionality.

Resource spotlight: ‘Addressing Cannabis Use with Pregnant Women’ + ‘Questions About Cannabis’

The two partnered resources, launched in December 2020, are informed by research undertaken by a Tasmanian UTAS Masters student in 2018. Created to assist health professionals and the pregnant women meeting with them, these resources provide an overview and current understandings of women's attitudes to cannabis consumption during pregnancy, as well as guidelines and answers to common questions about using cannabis during pregnancy.

Investing in smarter technology to improve the frequency and planning of DEN’s social media health promotion campaigns

DEN's approach to social media posts and campaigns has been improved with the uptake and utilisation of a new program called ‘Smarter Queue’.

Smarter Queue has aided DEN in post planning and frequency. By utilising ‘evergreen’ posts through a scheduled system, DEN has been able to experiment with the introduction of a new range of ‘call to action’ prompts, encouraging individuals to ‘Learn More’, ‘Call (our referral line) Now’ or ‘Send Message (directly to DEN)’.

These additions have resulted in an increase in social media interactions with more Facebook followers and shares than in any previous reporting period, while freeing up additional working hours spent creating, drafting and tracking posts to progress additional session and service requests.


Livestreaming community education sessions via Facebook

DEN has utilised social media‘s popularity and play-back options in response to COVlD-19 related service provision interruptions. This flexible and solution-oriented approach saw the community session 'Myth-busting about Drugs' occur via a livestream on Facebook, where traditionally it would have run in-person, in a publicly accessible space. Community members were invited to submit questions via DEN's social media, with answers incorporated into the information provided in the session.

This delivery option further aids DEN in service provision for community members who cannot attend in-person community sessions due to barriers of distance, time, or stigma. By switching to online delivery sessions where recording does not capture the details of attendants, DEN has been able to extend its service reach.

Resource Spotlight: Cooper Helps Jack Make a Plan

This resource was developed in partnership with the Salvation Army Communities for Children. The book was funded by the Australian Drug Foundation‘s LDAT project and the Communities for Children Project. The book was launched via Zoom with the author.

The book aims to provide helpful age-appropriate information for children to understand the health and relationship issues associated with harmful methamphetamine use. This resource is a great method for connecting with young people and addressing the issue of methamphetamine use without causing additional stigma for the reader.

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Resource Spotlight: ‘Creating Resilient Families’

Created in collaboration with the Australian Lions Wellbeing Foundation (ALWF). this resource provides tips to help build a resilient family. Tips outlined in the brochure include belonging, having downtime, rediscovering family rituals, loving kids for their differences, teaching skills of self-esteem, and more. These messages intend to encourage resilience as one of many protective factors against alcohol and other drug harms.


Series of introductory modules for Alcohol and other Drugs

DEN developed a series of introductory modules about Alcohol and other Drugs in partnership with the University of Tasmania for the Associate Degree of Applied Health and Community Support. The 20 hour ’short course‘ comprised 5 modules of pre-reading and a 4 hour workshop, which was (and continues to be) offered as an option exclusively for students undertaking the Negotiated Studies in Health and Community Services unit within the Associate Degree. The course was contextualised for students, using DEN content and expert review by the DEN team, in collaboration with the UTAS Unit Coordinator.

Demonstrating thought leadership and engaging in targeted community information for specific populations

Published in TasCAHRD‘s Autumn 2021, Red Thread (Edition 39] — the article, written by DEN educator Maria, explained the ‘stages of change’ theory. demonstrating how the theory can be used as a method to understand our own or somebody else‘s behaviour. Red Thread is a publication of TasCAHRD - Tasmania's primary not-for-profit HIV and hepatitis support and advocacy organisation.

Read article

Attending regular meetups with Tasmanian health promotion groups

Attending these meetings provides DEN team members with an increased awareness of complimentary services and an opportunity to increase the knowledge of others around our resources and educational training sessions.

DEN supports school communities through school nurse and teacher training

DEN promotes awareness of the ATOD areas in the Tasmanian Health and Physical Education (HPE) curriculum and provides schools with on-request evidence-informed resources and educational sessions to support best practice in ATOD education.

The Tasmanian Department of Education 'Child and Student Wellbeing Strategy' has informed our approaches, underpinned by the principles of drug education.


DEN creates a series of holiday social media health promotion messages

Shared across the Christmas and New Year holiday period in 2020, these posts were well received by followers of the Jordan River Services Facebook page, and encouraged community members to engage in carefully considered consumption, harm reduction, and open conversations with their loved ones.

Resource Spotlight: DEN supports health literacy issues through video resources increasing accessibility of drug education to all Tasmanians

Shared across the christmas and new year holiday period in 2020, these posts were well received by followers of the Jordan River Services Facebook page, and encouraged community members to engage in carefully considered consumption, harm reduction, and open in difficult conversations.


Presenting and facilitating at the 2020 ATDC Conference

DEN's Tobacco Free Communities program, piloted by DEN with funding from Healthy Tasmania grants, was highlighted in a presentation 'Real-world financial incentive programs for promoting smoking cessation: Results and lessons learnt from the Tobacco Free Communities trials.

A panel presentation delivered at the ATDC Conference covered the Tasmanian AOD peer workforce project. The panel allowed participating organisations and newly trained peer workers to share their perspectives about peer work in the AOD Sector in Tasmania. The feedback provided showed that this panel presentation was very well received.

Project Spotlight: Lead Agency for the AOD Peer Worker Project

The Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug (ATOD) Peer Workforce Project aims to train and introduce 36 Peer Workers into the Tasmanian ATOD sector over 3 years. The project will result in a network of trained Peer Workers across the state. Despite COVID-19 disruptions, this project has continued its momentum for the last two years. The first group of Peer Workers graduated at the end of March 2021, with the second round due to commence in August 2021.

Project Progress & Timeline:

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For more information, you can view peer work updates listed on the DEN website.

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Most Distributed Resources

The below table illustrates the top six physical resources disseminated within the 2020-2021 period.


Overdose Wallet Card

Physical copies distributed: 538

These wallet-size, double-sided cards provide helpful and easy to understand information on what to do if you suspect a person has overdosed. Includes tips for reducing the risk of overdose and lists local helplines.

More info


Cooper Helps Jack Make a Plan

Physical copies distributed: 450

This book aims to provide helpful age-appropriate information for children to understand the health and relationship issues associated with harmful methamphetamine use. This resource is a great method for connecting with young people and addressing the issue of methamphetamine use without causing additional stigma for the reader.

More info


Questions about Cannabis

Physical copies distributed: 357

This 2-page handout answers common questions about cannabis use during pregnancy in a friendly and plain language and offers some guidelines for lowering risk while using cannabis.

More info


Youth Wristbands

Physical copies distributed: 264

DEN's Youth Wristbands are a simple way to encourage young people to share their insight and knowledge with one another. The website link on the wristband connects individuals to a range of information and services, acting as both a prompt for discussion and reference point for accessing further information.

More info


Party Rules

Physical copies distributed: 180

The Party Rules resource was developed to inform parents and young people about the legislation regarding functions and parties with alcohol for those under 18 years of age.

More info


ALDAF/DEN Cannabis... Is it Just a Weed? Brochure

Physical copies distributed: 161

A community brochure that answers common questions about Cannabis, exploring the effects, the risks, and how long it stays in your body. This brochure was created in collaboration with the Australian Lions Drug Awareness Foundation (ALDAF).

More info

DEN's Impact Overview

Resources provided to the Tasmanian community:

DEN Hardcopy Resources provided: 2733 up 13% from previous year
DEN Digital Resources provided: 1064 up 78% from from previous year.

We collect feedback in a variety of ways in accordance with the session type. From our training sessions conducted in the past year participants reported:

Changed Knowledge: 93% of 251 participants reported
they had built on their
of the topic overall.
Changed Awareness: 89% of 251 participants reported
they had built on their
of the topic overall.
Changing Behaviours/Practices: 85% of 251 participants reported
they intend to change their practices
and behaviours
in response to the
knowledge gained in the ATOD session.

How we use our funds

We spend our dollars carefully by investing in highly skilled staff and agile operations to ensure the delivery of a quality evidence-informed service provision across Tasmania.

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