Christel Macdonald

NDARC PhD candidate and research assistant
November 2022
Christel Macdonald

This weekend I will… likely binge-watch a TV show or a good movie, eat some good food and try and sneak in a workout at the gym.

I’d originally planned to work… as a veterinarian, but high school work experience proved while I loved cats and dogs, I would not enjoy performing surgery on them!

If I had more time, I'd... write a book. Growing up, I’ve always loved writing short fictional stories. I’d love to turn that into a reality one day.

The qualities I most value in my colleagues are… openness, being good problem-solvers and having a good sense of humour. My current team is one of the best parts of my job – we have a great sense of camaraderie and can have a laugh to break up those long days that are sometimes filled with difficult or monotonous tasks.

Career wise, I’m most proud of... starting my PhD in an area I’m very interested in but initially, did not know a lot about.

My big hope for the drug and alcohol sector is... more funding for community-based services, especially for co-morbid substance use and mental illness. This is critical to shift the focus away from police-based responding to people experiencing mental health crises, and in destigmatising substance use and mental illness.

The sector's biggest challenge going forward is...  dealing with the volume of people cycling in and out of the criminal justice system with co-morbid substance use and mental illness. Inadequate responses to this issue mean many people are not being treated for the underlying causes of their offending.

I’m most looking forward to… hopefully having a “proper” Australian 2022-23 summer after two years of COVID, and one summer thwarted by La Nina!

Christel Macdonald

Christel joined NDARC in 2019, after completing a Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours) at the University of New South Wales. She is a PhD candidate and a research assistant. Christel's PhD thesis focuses on the factors that influence mental health court diversion and she is supervised by Prof. Don Weatherburn and Prof. Michael Farrell. As a research assistant, Christel is currently working under Prof. Louisa Degenhardt on a systematic review examining the impact of interventions to reduce drug use-related harms among people who experience incarceration.