VAADA Staff

Chris Christoforou – Chief Executive Officer

Chris comes to VAADA from the Yoorrook Justice Commission, Australia’s first Aboriginal led Royal Commission and truth telling body, where he was Director of Operations. Previously he was Executive Officer of the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria, leading the member peak body for migrant communities and multicultural organisations in Victoria.  Chris has extensive experience across the education and community sector including leadership roles at the Western Bulldogs Football Club, Mission Australia and Centre for Adult Education. He is a current Board Member of VCOSS and a member of the Victorian Government’s Anti-Racism Taskforce.

 

Chris McDonnell – Corporate Services Manager & Company Secretary

Chris is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day financial management, quality, and business of the Association. These roles require him to work closely with the Chief Executive Officer at an operational level and with the VAADA Board at a governance level.

Chris enjoys working in a small team that is dedicated to achieving the strategic aims of the organisation. He appreciates having a members-based Board with direct experience in delivering services in the AOD space. Chris has been with VAADA since 2002.

 

Scott Drummond – Head of Policy and Practice

Scott is responsible for managing and supporting policy, professional practice and project staff at VAADA.  This includes overseeing the development of a range of evidence-based positions that inform best practice and building relationships with government and the service sector, providing expertise to the shaping of public policy, sector resourcing, capacity building and professional development.

Prior to starting at VAADA, Scott worked in a senior role within the then Department of Justice and Regulation with responsibility for AOD policy and service monitoring of AOD treatment programs in the Victorian public prison system. During this time Scott also delivered AOD programs to prisoners at the Metropolitan Remand Centre and the Melbourne Assessment Prison. Scott’s background also includes working for 10 years at Odyssey House Victoria’s therapeutic community where he worked as a group therapist, team leader and Therapeutic Community Administrator. Scott holds qualifications in Communications, Male Family Violence and AOD.  He also has a Masters in Criminology and listens to true crime podcasts on his way to work.

 

Gillian Clark – AOD Strategy & Reform Manager

Gillian is responsible for overseeing any Government reform activity that impacts the AOD sector in Victoria and developing a strategic response to AOD-related activity. VAADA’s present reform focus includes mental health reform, family violence reform and Aboriginal Health Reform as part of the Yoorrook Truth Telling Commission. The AOD strategy function aims to ensure that VAADA can lead strategic planning to ensure a robust, high quality and responsive treatment and harm reduction system within Victoria into the future. Gillian has a vast range of experience in clinical service delivery, workforce capacity building, policy and change management within the Victorian AOD and Mental Health sectors over 24 years. Her foundations in social work and a specialisation in Addictive Behaviours lead her professional practice and her passion for ensuring that all individuals who are impacted by substance use are accepted and supported.

 

David Taylor – Advocacy & Media Manager

Dave is responsible for managing advocacy at VAADA, elevating the organisation’s public voice through media and stakeholder engagement. He leads on key campaigns ensuring that the sector is represented in public discourse.

Dave has worked at VAADA in policy as well as advocacy for a national peak. He previously worked in the community legal as well as teaching roles at university and TAFE.  Dave has an Honours in Criminology and a Post Graduate Certificate in Health Policy.

 

Caitlyn Wilson Communications & Membership Manager

Caitlyn is responsible for engaging with members and audiences online, managing communications, and leading key events. She plays a pivotal role in supporting VAADA’s strategic goal of strengthening connections with stakeholders through knowledge-sharing and relationship-building.

Caitlyn transitioned from the commercial construction industry to VAADA in 2017. She brought with her experience in implementing an award-winning workplace health check program addressing various health risk factors. Since joining VAADA, Caitlyn has taken on roles supporting workforce development and stakeholder engagement projects, leading the Elevate! project in 2021 and collaborating with Turning Point and Goulburn Valley Health on the ACECHO pilot program in 2023.  Caitlyn loves a good event and is often first up on the dancefloor.

 

Jane Moreton – Practice Lead, Sector Development

Jane Moreton has worked at VAADA since June 2013 initially as the CCB Project Officer. Her role involves capacity building across the AOD sector in a range of activities including mental health, developing resources, advocacy, and workforce development, and 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.

 

Dr James Petty – Senior Policy and Research Officer

James is responsible for leading research and policy analysis on areas of strategic priority for VAADA. In this role, James manages three projects—the Alcohol and Drug Research Innovation Agenda (ADRIA), the Tri-Peaks cross-sector collaboration initiative, Emergency Dept. AOD Nurses Network (EDCLAN) . 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. James is also the Chief Vegetation Officer at VAADA.

 

Meg Bagnall – Lead, AOD & Family Violence

Meg (she/her) holds a Bachelor of Psychological Science, complemented by a Masters in Politics and Policy. With a career spanning over a decade in and around the family violence sector, Meg brings a wealth of experience and expertise to VAADA.

Meg is passionate about improving community outcomes and employs compassionate, collaborative, and cooperative frameworks to foster meaningful change. Meg is particularly interested in the intricate intersections of substance use and gendered violence, a focus that aligns with her current thesis work on parallel systems of oppression, starting with international drug policy.

An advocate of intersectional feminism and social justice, Meg continuously seeks opportunities to contribute to equitable access to support, especially for identities that face systemic oppression.

 

Trudi Jordan – Communications and Events Officer

Trudi plays an integral role in the Communications and Membership Team, producing content for a range of media and communications platforms across the organisation including social media, websites and publications. Trudi also has a hands-on role supporting member engagement through VAADA events. Trudi holds a Certificate IV in Alcohol and Other Drugs and has a passion for reducing the stigma that people using alcohol and other drugs face. Before starting at VAADA, she worked in several different public health areas. Most recently working within the women’s and children’s health sector as a Project Officer. Trudi also has an extensive background in Executive Assistance and Event Coordination having previously worked within a Marketing and Communications team. In her spare time, Trudi can’t get enough of arranging events, often hosting themed dinner parties with friends and family.

Anushka Ananth – Workforce Development Coordinator

Anushka is responsible for overseeing our workforce development projects including Elevate!, ACECHO and the AOD Traineeship Program. Anushka also supports any other workforce development initiatives at VAADA. Prior to coming to VAADA, she was working as a Training Manager at Odyssey in New Zealand.

Anushka has a clinical background, having worked in the AOD sector in New Zealand for the last 7 years, including working within therapeutic communities and managing a co-existing residential service. Anushka’s idea of R&R involves sandy toes, salty air, and a trusty beach towel.

Esther Toomey – Project Coordinator

Esther is a Project Coordinator at VAADA, currently overseeing the VAADABase pilot project and supporting AOD Forums and networks. Previously, Esther worked at Victoria’s peak body for sexual assault services, supporting a leadership program and workforce development. Additionally, Esther has experience managing the commissioning of Alcohol and Other Drug programs across Sydney within a Primary Health Network. Esther’s passion lies in understanding the needs of individuals facing challenges related to drug and alcohol use, as well as mental health. A recent transplant to Melbourne, she’s enthusiastic about exploring this new city and connecting with member organisations across the state.

Alexandra Jackson – Executive Support Coordinator

Alex joins VAADA having spent the last decade working in executive support in both the public and not-for-profit sectors. At VAADA, Alex provides executive support to the VAADA subcommittees and CEO, as well as general office support to the team. Alex has a long-held passion for progressive AOD policy and is excited to be working with the passionate staff and stakeholders at VAADA to improve outcomes for the Victorian community. Outside of work, Alex is an avid reader who loves nothing more than a cold, rainy day on the sofa with a cup of tea and a good book.