Our Purpose

To prevent the harm caused by alcohol and other drugs in Australia.

Each year in Australia: 5,500 people die from alcohol related injuries, illness and accidents.

  • 157,000 people are hospitalised due to alcohol.
  • More people die from drug overdoses—including from pharmaceuticals—than die on the roads.
  • The cost to the community from alcohol-related harm is estimated to exceed $15.3 billion. For illegal drugs it exceeds $8.2 billion.

All of these are preventable.


Our mission

We work in partnership with government, corporates, the for-purpose sector and Australia’s diverse communities to create sustainable social change that supports health and well-being for all.

We are community-centric

We support communities to build their capacity to create change and determine their own futures. We co-design our programs with the community, valuing their strengths and uniqueness. Our community development frameworks, along with our program and service delivery, are supported by the latest evidence.

ADF purpose, mission, focus

We prioritise partnerships & collaboration

We build strong alliances that benefit communities, help deliver positive outcomes and strengthen our collective impact. We are generous with our knowledge and insight when dealing with our partners and communities.

Our approach is reflected in an organisational culture of collaboration and innovation.

We influence change in policy, systems and institutions

We constantly engage in dialogue, advocating for policy reforms that support the needs of communities.

Our communities, staff and key stakeholders are knowledge leaders with clear understanding of the critical issues.

Our Focus

Primary Prevention

The goal of primary prevention is to address the causes of alcohol and other drug problems to protect people from developing a problem in the first place.

We know a sense of disconnection, unemployment, abuse or trauma, poor mental health, or a feeling of having no clear future – combined with availability and peer use of drugs – are strong risk factors for harm due to alcohol and other drug use.

We also know that the development of recreational pursuits, positive relationships with parents, family members and other role models, being engaged in a school or community environment, and spiritual beliefs can all help to limit or minimise exposure to risky behaviour around alcohol and other drugs.

With this in mind, we work to build safe, healthy and resilient communities with low prevalence of these risk factors and high prevalence of protective factors.

Secondary Prevention

Secondary prevention promotes safety for those who already use alcohol and other drugs and is directed towards people who have a higher or specific risk of serious harms. For ADF this includes initiatives like pill testing at music festivals, or live monitoring of pharmaceutical drug prescriptions.

Tertiary prevention

The goal of tertiary prevention is to help people with an existing disease, disability or medical condition to overcome it, or to improve their quality of life. For ADF this might include referring drug users to treatment providers, advocating for drug consumption rooms to reduce the risks of use, or distribution of anti-overdose medications like naloxone.

Our Manifesto

At the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, we believe that an Australia free from alcohol and drug harm will be an Australia that’s safer for us all.

We know real change can only come from a ‘whole of community’ approach, so our efforts are focused on working collaboratively with the community to deliver results with measurable long-term impact.

We believe in using the latest research and insight to develop primary prevention policy and practice that reduces the impact of alcohol and other drug misuse in the community. Our work draws on the science of alcohol and other drugs and the most recent thinking in community development and mental health to develop innovative approaches designed to address the underlying causes of harm.

We bring a collaborative approach to everything we do, because we know that only by working together can we prevent those at risk from falling into harm’s way.

An Alternative Future

In the not too distant future, Australia’s attitudes to alcohol and other drugs are hard to recognise from where we stand today.

There is a common understanding of the need for preventative approaches to address health issues and prevent harms across whole of government and other services. Work that encourages and enables community connection and social inclusion has become the mainstay of a cross sector primary prevention approach that the ADF is very much a part of. It is well known that strong healthy communities are one’s where the pathways of quality education and employment are strengthened and access to good affordable housing, green spaces, support services and public health care are present by design and prioritised. This is what primary prevention is really about and we can all ensure that these are the issues we keep in focus.

When communities can support those that need it, when things are tough or not going as expected it means there is less chance of things going wrong. This prevents those at risk of developing harmful drug behaviour – but also means that those that do find themselves in a tough spot– misusing one drug or another can reach out – or at least be noticed and supported without stigma.

More and more there is an understanding that drug dependencies and addictions are health issues, not criminal issues and we are working in ongoing partnership with government and other services to drive illegal drug reform.

Australia’s drinking culture has shifted – we see a measureable reduction in alcohol and other drug harms. Underage drinking, the supply of alcohol to teenagers, and drinking to excess have fallen out of favour. Young people tend to start drinking later and it is no longer seen as an adolescent rite of passage. Australians are no longer among the world’s leading consumers of prescription and illicit drugs.

The places we gather and our favourite forms of entertainment are no longer compromised by confusing messaging from alcohol brands. ADF has had a hand in creating this shift. More than ever, we are a purpose driven and values based organisation working together with communities and social change agents across the nation to prevent harm from alcohol and other drugs.

The reach and impact of our programs has dramatically increased through the successful leveraging of digital platforms and initiatives. Our messages and programs reach Australians everywhere.

We are community centred, and continue to deliver place-based community programs, working across settings. Feedback from our community citizens and programs continuously informs our program design and development.

Our structure supports effective governance and high impact delivery, it supports cross sector collaboration as well as the open sharing of knowledge. We prioritise effectiveness and efficiency, ensuring our funding has the greatest impact possible. We continue to value and prioritise the role of evidence and ensure that our programs are measureable. At the same time we are committed to continuous learning, agility, and innovation.

‘The complexity of problems faced by individuals, areas and services mean that simple solutions or quick fixes will not be adequate. Complex needs require patient, multi-agency responses supported by ongoing partnership networks.’