Conference 2023

Inclusion. Innovation. Impact. Sustainability.

James A. Pitts Oration

James A. Pitts

The James A. Pitts Oration has been established as an event on the ATCA Conference calendar to feature Australian and internationally renowned individuals who have been a significant contributor to research or practice in therapeutic communities. Named in honour of James A. Pitts, who has worked in the Alcohol and other Drugs field for more than 40 years, the Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association (ATCA) takes great pleasure in partnering with Odyssey House NSW in this important event.

James retired as CEO of Odyssey House in 2016 after more than 32 years in that role. James was selected to a number of prominent boards over his career and was awarded the Ted Noffs Foundation Award for Individual Achievement in the AOD field in 2000, the Australia Day Medal in 2001 by the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia in recognition of his contribution and commitment to the field, the inaugural fellowship by the Harvard Club of Australia, Not for Profit Fellowship Program in 2001; and in 2007 was inducted to the Honour Roll of the National Drug and Alcohol Awards. In 2016, James was presented with the O. Hobart Mowrer Award, in Recognition of Excellence in the global field of Therapeutic Community Treatment, by the World Federation of Therapeutic Communities at a ceremony in Mallorca. James has also previously served as a Board Member of the ATCA Board over many years and was a founding member of ATCA.

The James A. Pitts Oration has been made possible thanks to the generosity of a long-time Odyssey House donor.

The ATCA Board, together with the Board of Odyssey House NSW, are delighted to announce Garth Popple will this year present the James A. Pitts Oration.

Garth S.C. Popple

 Garth is the Executive Director of We Help Ourselves (WHOS) and has been working in the alcohol and other drug(AOD) nonprofit sector since 1980, and in management roles since 1986. His focus has been primarily on theresidential Therapeutic Community (TC) sector and its model of care for most of his career to date, includingworking with TCs throughout Asia.  In 1986 he became involved in Harm Reduction initiatives as a result of theHIV/AIDS epidemic and became more focussed with staying in touch with individuals with Lived Experience both past and present. As Executive Director of We Help Ourselves (WHOS). Garth is responsible for a community-based organisation which operates seven residential Therapeutic Communities within NSW and Qld and associated Day Programs and admits approximately 1000 clients annually to its residential programs.

Current Appointments
·       Deputy President, World Federation of Therapeutic Communities (WFTC)
·       Advisor – International Federation of NGOs (IFNGO)
·       Advisor – Federation of Therapeutic Communities – Asia

Past Appointments
·       Co-Chair and Executive Member of the Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD) reporting to Prime Ministers and Federal Health Minister
·       President – International Federation of NGOs
·       Chair/President – Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association
·       President & Treasurer – Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies (NSW)
·       Made an Honorary Fellow of the University of Western Sydney and
·       Received the Prime Minister’s Award at the 2010 National Drug and Alcohol Awards.
Some Innovations within WHOS Under Garth’s Watch
·       WHOS expansion to operating across multiple states (1976)
·       Introduced TC based needle syringe program (harm reduction) (1988)
·       Established Women’s TC (1992)
·       1st TC to run a separate methadone to abstinence program (2000)
·       Reduce TC episode of care from 18 months to 3-4 months (2000)
·       Research conducted by World Health Organisation on WHOS TC for use in Asia (2006)
·       1st TC to operate a residential TC opioid stabilisation program (2008)
·       1st NGO to be licensed to practice opioid dosing on site (2010)
·       Winning Award by ACI (Agency for Clinical Innovation) for Cognitive Impairment Research (2016)
·       Establishment and expansion of WHOS Day Programs throughout NSW and Qld.

Past James A. Pitts Orators

2014: James A. Pitts, CEO Odyssey House, NSW

2015: Dr John Howard, University NSW

2016: John Challis, Vice President, California, Center Point Inc

2017: Professor Jan Copeland, University NSW

2019: Associate Professor Gery Karantzas, Deakin University

    Subscribe to our mailing list

    Sign up to receive regular communications from ATCA.