In September 2023, as Founding Chair and President of AGASA, Professor John Saunders welcomed members of parliament, allied health professionals, researchers, educators and clinicians to AGASA's inaugural symposium at Parliament House, Canberra, Australia. Hosted by the Federal Member for Flinders (Victoria) Ms. Zoe McKenzie, the symposium was a resounding success, featuring speakers who are the nation's foremost experts in the issues of online gaming, screens addiction, how problems relating to gaming and screens can be prevented and how individuals and families can engage in therapy when there is an opportunity for change. The problems of equitable access to treatment were highlighted. The symposium provided a vital opportunity for the diverse group of attendees to network, share the latest research and information, and discuss how communities may harness the healthy use of technologies and minimise the risk of adverse effects.
John served as the Founding Chair and President of AGASA from the time it started in mid-2022 until the end of the inaugural symposium on 14 September. During this time AGASA was established as an incorporated charity, a trusted source of information on the effects of gaming and screens, and an organisation with clear public health objectives. John took on the role for an agreed term of 12 months, and continues to serve as a Director.
Professor John Saunders met with colleagues at the Drug & Alcohol Nurses of Australasia's (DANA) annual conference on the 2nd August to present copies of Addiction Medicine (2nd edition) by Oxford University Press to DANA's prize winners.
DANA (Drug and Alcohol Nurses of Australasia) is the peak nursing organisation in Australasia for nurses, nurse practitioners and midwives with a professional interest in Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) issues and is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
The Australian Gaming & Screen Alliance (www.agasa.com.au) was formed in 2023 by a network of allied health professionals who were concerned with the lack of robust information and guidance that was available to the Australian public about screen-based mental health disorders. The AGASA founding members are well-known public figures and researchers who are dedicated to proactively contributing to the improved wellbeing and support for Australian individuals and families who are facing issues with tech-related behavioural challenges. Professor John Saunders is currently Chairman of the board.
AGASA is committed to providing the Australian community with reliable information and advice on screen-based behaviours. The organisation aims to support families, schools and individuals through the unification of a trustworthy multidisciplinary group that provides advocacy and leadership around healthy gaming and technology use.
AGASA will be launching its first Symposium in Canberra ACT, September 14th, 2023 on problematic gaming and screen-related disorders. Further info
A pioneering new study to address and reduce the risks of harmful internet use among teenagers is being led by University of Hertfordshire researchers.
Led by Naomi Fineberg, Professor of Psychiatry and a group of international researchers and global experts including Professor John Saunders, the Bootstrap project (Boosting Societal Adaptation and Mental Health in a Rapidly Digitalizing, Post-Pandemic Europe) is a new, Europe-wide study that will monitor how young people use the internet, understand which behaviours lead to harm and determine how these can be addressed.
Selected by Horizon Europe for a €7.5 million funding grant, the project is the first large-scale, standardised analysis of the impact of internet use on young people with such a broad and diverse range of participants. The results will be used to produce policy recommendations to address Problematic Use of the Internet (PUI) on an international scale.
AUDITSCREEN.ORG (www.auditscreen.org), the free online resource for the AUDIT, was recently re-launched and updated with exciting new features which include:
AUDITSCREEN.ORG was previously launched in response to consistently strong interest and queries from health professionals and researchers around the world for up-to-date information about the AUDIT, including the AUDIT’s availability in different languages, its use in different healthcare settings, research studies on the AUDIT and copyright matters. Access to the resource is free for members of the public who may be interested in the AUDIT, be they a health professional, researcher, student, patients and families of patients.
About the AUDIT
The AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test), was developed by John Saunders, and since its publication in 1989 has become the most frequently used alcohol screening and brief assessment instrument in the world. It provides a framework for intervention to help those with unhealthy alcohol use reduce or cease alcohol consumption and thereby avoid the harmful consequences of alcohol.