DANA’s AGM was held last night. It was a night to remember; a night when the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a Zoomed meeting and night when our president of four years, Darren Smyth (pictured above left), stepped down from the role.
DANA is delighted to announce the election of Dr Adam Searby (pictured above right) as its new President. Until last night Adam was DANA’s Education and Research Officer. Reflecting his deep interest in research, Adam has been the chief investigator for DANA’s recent research undertakings. Adam, along with his priorities for DANA, will be fully introduced to you in the next DANA e-blast due out on September 1st 2020.
DANA’s Patron and Life Member, Tonina Harvey AM, delivered some heartfelt words to farewell Darren:
My introduction to Darren Smyth was on a bus in Auckland. I had been asked to give my presentation for the Oration at the 1st Australasian Mental Health and Addiction Nursing Conference held in NZ in 2013. At that time, I had moved from working in the AOD field in 2006 and had been working in Disability for 7 years. I was maintaining a link with DANA in supporting the development of the initial competency standards, but that was the limit of my ongoing work in the field at that time. As such, I must admit I was a little apprehensive. I didn’t know what I could say that would make a difference to nurses who were more connected to the sector that I was at the time.
But….as the story goes….I flew to NZ and got on the airport bus to go to the conference hotel and venue……I start chatting to this dapper young man in a leather jacket and tweed cap and find out he was going to the same place! What a surprise….it was young Darren!
From the minute we recognised that we were heading in the same direction…we chatted all the way! I was immediately reassured and started to feel less anxious as I felt that I had connected back with the DANA “family”.
That is what I have come to call the Power of Darren. This is something that he doesn’t see but many of us have experienced!
Darren has an unabating energy and passion for all things related to supporting people experiencing harm from alcohol and other drugs and a sharp focus for was this means for nurses working on the front line.
Darren has been on the management committee of DANA for 8 years, the last 4 at the helm as President. As luck would have it, I returned to the AOD field in 2014 and since that time I have witnessed the enormous growth and development of DANA over the past 6 years.
Throughout this time the Power of Darren has shone through and his achievements are many.
On taking on the role as President, he bought a fresh approach to the orgainisation – he immediately reviewed the structure and discontinued roles that kept DANA siloed into states. Instead, the role of Portfolio Officers was created. Now DANA has roles for members, who work to their strengths and specific skills in:
- Workforce development
- Education / research
- Marketing and campaigning
- As Nurse practitioners
- Membership and
- Advancing practice (Credentialing and Advanced Certification)
Darren advocated for the employment of a part time Executive Officer, now known as Colleen, Darren’s early morning correspondent. The employment of Colleen in this role has freed DANA Management Committee volunteers to devote more time to the main issues, such as effective representation at a state, national and international levels and extensive DANA contribution to policy development and implementation.
Darren has a belief in investing in the future of DANA and D&A Nurses. Some brief examples of this includes:
- The Workforce 2020 Research Project. The outcomes of this work have the potential to influence Drug and Alcohol Nursing career choices for years to come.
- Advocating and supporting DANA’s Inaugural D&A Nurse Practitioner Symposium in 2019 and the Australasian Conference ‘The Power of Connection’
- Encouraging nursing student attendance at the DANA Conference held in Melbourne at RMIT in 2018, to stimulate ongoing interest in the field.
On top of this I have come to witness not only Darren’s passion and commitment to AOD Nurses and nursing but also his incredible skill and leadership qualities.
Through his work for DANA, Darren has broadened DANA’s horizons and developed relationships with drug and alcohol nurses from around the world. A significant achievement is the brokerage of the Memorandum of Understanding with the International Nurses Society on Addictions (IntNSA).
Darren’s passion drives forward a vision and a strategic sensibility in all that he does. He is not averse to taking a calculated risk and breaking new ground and has worked tirelessly to source additional funding for DANA activities and to have other organisations invest in DANA. He has championed expenditure of DANA funds to build the organisation’s value and contribution to the health sector and achieved this with a belief that DANA shouldn’t be afraid to spend money, just be afraid to waste it!
Darren consistently and persistently, seeks drug and alcohol nursing representation in all aspects of decision making and policy development. He is at the forefront of promoting the role of D&A Nurses and the extended value that D&A Nurse Practitioners bring to addressing the needs of our most vulnerable populations.
On top of this Darren is great fun to work with, he is a terrific negotiator (aka schmoozer) and can tap dance his way around most difficult and challenging situations! The chapter that Darren has written in DANA history is one which has realised many opportunities and supported the growth of the organisation in the 21st Century into a highly professional peak body for D&A nurses in Australasia.
As Darren vacates the role of President, I would like to acknowledge his significant legacy, wish him well in all his future endeavours and thank him sincerely from the Management Committee and all DANA Members. We know that whatever he turns his mind to the Power of Darren will always shine through!