Welfare interventions in the context of advocacy and surveillance: the experiences of marginalised drug-users

Stream: Young people, health and drugs
Date: Tuesday, 10 September 2019
Time: 10.55 am – 12.35 pm


Individuals who use drugs are identified as a particular group for welfare intervention, habitually positioned both as complicit in the reproduction of intergenerational poverty and social marginalisation, and as sources of hope for interrupting such patterns. This study draws on empirical research exploring the experiences of highly marginalised people with histories of drug-use to investigate how they negotiate relationship building with service providers in the context of the participants’ previous experiences with welfare interventions. In doing so, the study seeks to texture the conception of the support and surveillance nexus, with rich accounts of participants subject to both arms of welfare and justice interventions.

Against the preoccupation with individualising responsibility and disciplining people experiencing a combination of hardships such as victimisation, drug-use issues and histories of state intervention, this study argues that a more appropriate response involves an acknowledgement of the oppression and injustices many of them face on a daily basis in their dealings with welfare services. A better understanding of the ways in which welfare service processes alienate people in advanced marginality from seeking support, as well as from benefitting from the support available, might provide a way to address these concerns


Maja Lindegaard Moensted (Presenter), University of Sydney
Dr Moensted has many years of experience working within the academic and community sector conducting social research, focusing on the meeting between vulnerable citizens and welfare institutions. She has expertise in qualitative approaches to social inquiry and has used different methods to explore a range of contemporary issues including social determinants of health, youth inequality, marginalisation, crime and substance use. Dr Moensted currently works with Drug Health Services and Discipline of Addiction Medicine, University of Sydney investigating best practice service approaches for people with substance use issues and highly complex needs.

Carolyn Day, University of Sydney
A/Prof Day is a public health researcher in drug and alcohol, focusing on illicit drug use. She is an investigator on numerous research projects involving epidemiological, behavioural, qualitative and clinical research techniques and methods and collaborated widely across disciplines and institutions. A/Prof Day has been a Director of the NSW Alcohol and Drug Foundation since 2009 and the Vice President since 2012 of a residential treatment service for women with substance use issues and their children. She is an Honorary Research Associate with the Sydney Uniting Medically Supervised Injecting Centre and a member of SLHD Harm Minimisation Program Steering Committee.