Clinical and health psychologist Natasha Perry will begin a six country research tour next week to investigate treatment programs for young people with complex substance use problems.
The eight week trip is part of Dr Perry's Churchill Fellowship prize, which she was awarded last year.
She will spend a week at each site:
- Oslo University Hospital's Youth Addiction Treatment Evaluation Project
- Lisbon, Portugal – European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and local treatment centres
- Toronto, Canada – Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
United States of America:
- New York, New York - Division on Substance Abuse, New York State Psychiatric Institute; & Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University
- Cambridge, Boston – Children's Harvard, CATALYST Clinic
- Charleston, South Carolina – Medical University of South Carolina
- Denver, Colorado - Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment
"I am interested to see how other countries support young people with complex substance use problems, particularly those under 18 years old," she said.
"I want to know how these centres of excellence are collaboratively involving young people and their families in treatment, training staff, partnering with other services and developing resources."
"I am meeting with some very well respected experts in this area and look forward to discussing how we can improve our current treatment system here in NSW."
Dr Perry has worked within the government, not-for-profit, community and private organisations. Her client groups have included adults, adolescents, children and families across mental health, drug and alcohol, education and child protection sectors.
"Supporting young people during such a critical developmental period is important. We know that people generally start using substances during their adolescence so providing the right treatment and the right time can have a significant impact on their health and psychosocial outcomes, like staying connected with friends, finishing school and gaining employment," she said.
"When a client gains the skills to better manage their past or current stressors, it allows them to reach their potential which is really rewarding. Young people are our future!"
Dr Perry is currently working as clinical and health psychologist in the Hunter New England Local Health District Drug and Alcohol Clinical Service.
Her role comprises clinical governance, operational support and clinical research. She also maintains an clinical case load.
Dr Perry completed her Doctor of Clinical and Health Psychology at the University of Newcastle, where she is also a Conjoint Lecturer.
She has undertaken addiction research and has had her work presented at several national and international conferences and co-authored textbook chapters.
Prior to this, she worked in the Whole Family Team, where parents' mental health and substance use and psychosocial problems created child protection concerns.
Nicole Nathan and Caitlin Weston, also from Hunter New England Health, were also awarded Churchill Fellowships.
Background to The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust
The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and the Churchill Fellowships were established after Sir Winston Churchill's death in 1965, allowing Fellows to become his living legacy and inspire extraordinary thinking.
Since its inception over 50 years ago, the Churchill Trust has supported more than 4,200 Australians in identifying projects where overseas research will allow them to bring back vital networks and skills.
On 28 February 1965, just four weeks after the death of Sir Winston Churchill, the "Churchill Memorial Sunday" doorknock appeal was held across Australia.
The doorknock was to raise funds for an unusual type of memorial to Sir Winston - something like Rhodes Scholarships, but more egalitarian, and available to all people and on a much wider basis.
The concept, endorsed by Churchill before he died, was Fellowships, bearing his name, for ordinary people - providing a unique opportunity to travel, learn, and bring knowledge back to their country.
Such was the admiration and respect that Australian fighting men and women of World War II held for Churchill, that this became the greatest one-day doorknock in Australian history.
Funds collected from everyday Australians together with donations from Government and Australian companies totalled the princely sum of £2,206,000 P ($4,412,000).
That laid the foundation for an incredible opportunity – Fellowships offered annually and worth on average $25,000 each, available to Australians who want to make a difference.
For more information about the Churchill Trust, including the work of Fellows, see www.churchilltrust.com.au