Professor Mary-Ellen (Mel) Miller

Director, Siggins Miller Consultants
February 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 be in Delhi presenting a paper on health system reform. It will talk about designing and planning and funding the spaces between facilities and services and providers and consumers which is where things go wrong or could go better for people and where costs could be contained.

I wish I'd never… No regrets really or as the song goes, they’re too few to mention in retrospect.

I'd originally planned to work… Didn't really plan a career but followed every opportunity as they arose. It mostly turned out well or if not, I learned a lot about what not to do and with whom.

The qualities I most value in my colleagues are collegiality, intelligence, curiosity, work ethic, social purpose and sense of humour.

If I had more time, I would write more, get more exercise and learn a new skill. Maybe even learn a new language or have a go at the piano or then again maybe not and just have a break.

For my next holiday I am going to Sicily with my kids, their partners and my grandchildren. We are staying in a villa on the ocean looking out onto Mount Etna.

Career wise, I’m most proud of: 1). the work we all did around the country in getting laws changed about needle and syringe availability; 2). the evaluations I led of the National Drug Strategy. The second one contributed to preserving the bedrock policy of harm minimisation at a time when it was under threat.

The key priorities for the AOD sector going forward are continuing its efforts to remain evidence based and supporting the workforce to keep up to date about changing models of care and emerging technologies to assist all layers and levels of service delivery.

The sector's biggest challenges going forward are: 1). getting the consumer voice more solidly into the policy, service planning and treatment dialogue. 2). reinvigorating community debate about AOD issues and evidence-based solutions.

Mary-Ellen (Mel) Miller

Professor Mel Miller is Director of Siggins Miller. She is an Adjunct Professor of Psychology in the University of Queensland, and Professor in the Health Group at Griffith University. She has qualifications in clinical and organisational psychology. In addition to post graduate training in evaluation research method and multivariate statistical analysis she has completed courses with the American Evaluators Institute on qualitative research, cost benefit analysis, program logic, and contribution analysis through intensives in the USA and Canada.

Mel started her career in clinical practice in the AOD sector before moving onto policy, research and evaluation in the public sector. She was deeply involved in the design and development of the first National Campaign Against Drug Abuse in the 1980s and its evaluation and the development of Australia’s first National Alcohol Policy. She led the evaluation of Australia’s National Drug Strategic Framework in 2007-09.

Mel has also worked in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing and was involved in the development of national strategies such as the National Fetal Alcohol Strategy, the National Tobacco Strategy and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Alcohol Complementary Plan.

She is a Fellow of the College of Health Service Executives, a registered psychologist, a member of the Australian Psychological Society, a Fellow of the College of Organisational Psychologists, a member of the Australasian Evaluation Society, a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a member of the Australasian Market Research Society.