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Clinical Associate Professor Robert Ali AO

The harmful health impacts of drug addiction are significant and wide-reaching for individuals, their families and friends, and the wider community. Professor Robert Ali AO has worked tirelessly to advocate for the adoption of evidence-based, proven approaches to treat and support people who use drugs both in Australia and internationally. 

Headshot of Professor Robert Ali AO

“I wanted to contribute to reform processes across the health system, and to introduce and then scale up practices that are evidence-informed and cheaper and that, importantly, recognised people’s human rights.”  

“I have also worked to help the clinical workforce – doctors, nurses and other health professionals – to develop confidence and competence in applying these treatment methods.”  

“The reward is seeing the reform take place, but also in receiving acknowledgement and gratitude from an affected community; that their family and friends now have access to treatment that works.” 

A key element of Professor Ali’s work has been introducing needle exchange programs into South Australia which avoided a HIV epidemic in the state among injecting drug users; and introducing drug addiction counselling and enabling methadone treatment in Vietnam where the only option at the time was compulsory treatment centres. 

“Receiving recognition by being appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia is humbling. It’s such an important award. I still can’t believe it!” In addition to thanking local and international colleagues, Professor Ali’s family support too has been central to his contribution to our community.  

“My wife and son have supported and encouraged me to seize the opportunities. I couldn’t have done it without them.”