Jennifer Duncan

Chief Executive Officer - Australian Alcohol and other Drugs Council
October 2020
Each issue we ask someone from the alcohol and other drugs sector to share a little about their work and life.

This weekend I will… enjoy some time in the garden, hug the dog (often), mutually tolerate the cat, read incessantly, and continue to work through the personal ‘Gilmore Girls’ retrospective that’s happening in my house.   I’m in South Australia, so I’ll also make sure I get out with friends to support local as best I can and spend a little time counting my blessings.

I wish I'd never… I don’t really have one of these!  I come from the school of ‘no experience is ever wasted’.  Even when outcomes haven’t been what I’ve wanted, I’m notoriously focussed on looking for the silver linings.  It can be an annoying trait for those around me – eyes roll often! – but it helps me live a life with purpose, so I’m going to stick with it. 

I'd originally planned to work… I’m pretty sure I was going to write The Great Australian Novel by the time I was 25.  My 26th year was a great disappointment as a result.  At the moment I’m clinging to the fact that Olga Masters, one of my favourite Australian authors, didn’t publish her first short story until she was 58.  That time’s going to run out faster than I expect it to ….

The qualities I most value in my colleagues are… shared purpose, integrity, self-awareness, creativity and courage.  I’ve been fortunate to have found people like this in abundance over the 15+ years of my career in the community sector and I’ve never left a workplace without taking a new group of friends with me.  I hope people find these qualities in me too. 

In my role as CEO of the Australian Alcohol & other Drugs Council (AADC) I aim to… deliver real and genuine value to the alcohol and other drugs sector whilst setting the organisation up for sustainability.  I believe passionately in the work of peak bodies and the vital role we play in informing good social policy, and supporting the sector to achieve positive change for the communities we serve.   

The key priorities for AADC & sector broadly going forward are… building sector capacity and capability, with a focus on ensuring the sector is properly resourced to meet existing and future community need; reducing red tape and regulatory complexity, making sure that the practices of funding bodies are streamlined and harmonised to facilitate the sector’s ability to maximise service outcomes; and connecting evidence to outcomes, enhancing coordination across the practice, policy and research arms of the sector and promoting a health-focussed approach to alcohol and other drugs.

Jennifer Duncan

In April 2020 Jennifer joined the Australian Alcohol and other Drugs Council (AADC), the national peak body representing the alcohol and other drugs sector, as its inaugural CEO. 

Jennifer has previously served in leadership roles and on the boards of peak bodies in the areas of youth affairs, child and family welfare, justice reinvestment and community services, including as Executive Director of the Youth Affairs Council of SA and Deputy Director of the SA Council of Social Service.  She’s committed to using collaborative practice approaches to identify and achieve shared objectives at the community, organisational and systems levels to deliver positive social impact and drive change for diverse communities.  Jennifer is based in South Australia and lives on Kaurna land.