VAADA comprises of a team of 3 core funded staff, a program manager and a team of project officers.
Sam Biondo – Executive Officer
Sam has been Executive Officer at the Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association since 2007. He was previously employed by Fitzroy Legal Service since 1989. With a background in education, social work and criminology his principal work has involved social research, the preparation and production of educational and training materials, community development, and advocacy work. Sam has a keen interest in social justice and open and transparent systems of institutional accountability. He has been involved on a number of community sector Boards, reference committees, and NGO associations.
Chris McDonnell – Finance, Administration & Communications Officer
Chris has responsibility in three portfolios. Much of his work is the day-to-day administrative tasks within the office; which also involves working closely with the Executive Officer and board to maintain VAADA’s financial systems. He is also the Quality Manager, and works with the Executive Officer to ensure that VAADA maintains its high standards, to enable it to continue providing the services and representation its membership deserve. His main focus in the communications portfolio is the management of ENEWS, helps out in other areas within the VAADA communications suite as needed. Because VAADA has a small team, like all of his workmates from the EO down, Chris is an all-rounder, and may be seen pinch hitting in VAADA events or projects, answering doors, or taking out the rubbish. Chris has been at VAADA since 2002.
Scott Drummond – Program Manager
Scott commenced with VAADA in August 2017. He is responsible for coordinating network meetings, sector development, stakeholder engagement and capacity building. Prior to starting at VAADA, Scott was employed as a Senior Policy Officer within the Department of Justice & Regulation with responsibility for AOD policy and service monitoring of AOD treatment programs in the Victorian public prison system. During his seven years in corrections, Scott also delivered AOD programs to prisoners at the Metropolitan Remand Centre and the Melbourne Assessment Prison. Scott’s AOD background also includes working for 10 years at Odyssey House’s therapeutic community where he worked as a group therapist, co-ordinated the recreation program and finally as the Therapeutic Community Administrator. Scott holds a Masters in Criminology.
Jane Moreton – Co-occurring Capacity Building Project
Jane Moreton has worked at VAADA since June 2013 as the CCB Project Manager. Her role involves capacity building across the AOD sector in a range of activities including mental health, developing resources, advocacy, and workforce development, and through promoting collaborative linkages and partnerships between organisations.
Jane has worked in the AOD sector for over 19 years, and she has a background in nursing, social work and project management. Throughout her career Jane has worked in both clinical, and project management settings in the not-for-profit sector focusing on change and capacity building. This has allowed her to develop an extensive understanding of the need for service systems to evolve their responses to improve outcomes for clients within the context of limited funding opportunities and barriers.
James Petty – Project Officer Special Projects
James started at VAADA in December 2019 as Project Officer – Special Projects. In this role, James manages three projects—the Alcohol and Drug Research Innovation Agenda (ADRIA), the Tri-Peaks cross-sector collaboration initiative, and a research project investigating responses to AOD presentations in Emergency Departments—as well as contributing to VAADA’s policy and research outputs. Prior to VAADA, James was Senior Policy Officer at Penington Institute.
James has a PhD in Criminology from the University of Melbourne. His thesis investigated government responses to homelessness in Melbourne. James has been involved in multiple research projects across homelessness, Alcohol and Other Drugs and policy evaluation.
Sheridon Byrne – Project Officer, Elevate! and Stakeholder Management Family Violence Reforms
Sheridon joined VAADA in August 2020 to continue the work of supporting the AOD sector to embed family violence reforms. In August 2021 she joined the Elevate! Project, an initiative funded by the State Government of Victoria to provide training to new and current AOD workers under the COVID-19 Workforce Development Initiative. Sheridon has extensive experience and employment history working as a front-line worker in family violence services and was a crisis counsellor at the Qld-based Domestic and Family Violence crisis line-DVConnect. Sheridon was a trainer and coordinator for WIRE Women’s service and worked for DVRCV, delivering accredited and non-accredited family violence training across all parts of Victoria. Before joining VAADA, Sheridon worked at Turning Point as an Education and Training Officer. She embedded Family Violence capacity building and education within the AOD skillset and other programs both in a face-to-face and online format. Sheridon is a qualified Trainer & Assessor and has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.
Caitlyn Wilson – Project Officer – Elevate!
Caitlyn joined VAADA in 2017 as a Project Officer supporting the Workforce Capacity Building Project. In July 2020 she moved into the Workforce Development and Stakeholder Engagement Project, supporting federally funded AOD programs commissioned by three of the six Primary Health Networks across Victoria. In August 2021 she joined the Elevate! Project, an initiative funded by the State Government of Victoria to provide training to new and current AOD workers under the COVID-19 Workforce Development Initiative. Caitlyn came to VAADA after 6 years working with the commercial construction industry. She coordinated WorkHealth checks on commercial construction sites and also developed programs designed to be delivered in work settings and aimed at reducing risk factors such as smoking, drug and alcohol, weight and stress.
Dejan Jotanovic – Project Officer Stakeholder Management Family Violence Reforms
Dejan joined VAADA in August 2021 as Project Officer in stakeholder management and family violence reform – helping build capacity in the AOD sector as it continues to align to the MARAM (Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management) Framework. Prior to VAADA, Dejan has worked at the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) and The University of Melbourne in various communications-facing roles. He has a Bachelor of Arts with an Honours in Psychology and a Masters in Public Policy and Management. Dejan is also a freelance writer, typically focusing on issues relating to gender and sexuality, and has bylines in The Guardian, The Independent, HuffPost, Assemble Papers and Archer Magazine.
Julia Daly – Project and Administration Officer Drug and Alcohol Program
Julia joined our team at VAADA in 2020. With a business management background, she has worked in both Corporate Business and AOD sectors. Prior to her time at VAADA she held various roles in Students for Sensible Drug Policy, with a focus on administrative support, project management and operations management. Her previous AOD experience has specialised in youth representation and treatment within the sector. This combination of AOD and business backgrounds has her providing support across VAADA projects, events, network meetings, including the VAADA board and subcommittee meetings.
Sian Kennedy – Project Officer PHN Funded Programs
Sian joined VAADA in October 2021 in the role of Project Officer, supporting the federally funded AOD programs commissioned through three Primary Health Networks across Victoria. Sian is a social worker by training with a strong background in training & education, having been a social work lecturer at RMIT for some years and then working in various sector and workforce development roles. She spent nearly ten years in Berry Street’s Take Two program as both Clinician & Professional Development Officer, working with both the children & systems of the Child Protection system but AOD has always been the sector Sian returns to, having first been employed at the NSP in St Kilda in 2001. She has worked across the spectrum of AOD services, from residential withdrawal programs, residential rehabilitation, outpatient counselling and outreach services to people experiencing homelessness and people engaged in sex work.
Gillian Clark – Project Officer Mental Health Royal Commission
Gillian has commenced with VAADA from December 2021 in the role of the Sector Engagement Project Worker for the Victorian Royal Commission into Mental Health Services. With the delivery of recommendations following the Royal Commission, VAADA was funded to ensure ongoing AOD sector involvement and consultation with the acknowledgement of possible implications for the sector on the background of changes to the Mental Health System. Gillian has spent the previous 11 years representing the Victorian Dual Diagnosis Initiative (VDDI) in a rural Mental Health Service providing secondary consultation, policy and project management and capacity building across clinical mental health, AOD and community mental health services. Gillian has professional foundations in social work has cemented her passion for working in the AOD field and with those affected by substance use through the completion of a Masters in Addictive Behaviours in 2016 and as convenor of the Collaborative AOD Leadership Network in 2019.