Connecting lived experience and research to improve community health and safety in relation to drugs .

Connecting lived experience and research to improve
community health
and safety in
relation to
drugs .

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Our Vision

Communities are safe, healthy and empowered to manage substance use, including pharmaceuticals and alcohol.

Our Mission

To support cost-effective approaches that maximise community health and safety in relation to drugs.

How we do it

Frank and fiercely independent, we connect lived experience with research to improve the management of drugs through community engagement and knowledge sharing.


Penington Institute champions an open, rational, and compassionate approach to building and sharing knowledge to reduce drug-related harm.

Announcement of the Passing of Emeritus Professor David Penington AC

Penington Institute’s namesake and patron, Emeritus Professor David Penington AC, passed away on 6 January 2023.

Professor Penington was one of Australia’s leading public intellectuals and health experts. He courageously advocated for sensible policy in his roles as former chair of the National AIDS Task Force, the Victorian Premier’s Drug Advisory Council, and the Victorian Government’s Drug Policy Expert Committee.

His great legacy includes making Australia a world leader in HIV/AIDS public health strategy. Professor Penington was also pivotal in advancing rational debate on drug-related issues, changing community attitudes to alcohol and illicit drug problems. Penington Institute will continue this important work to reduce harm.

Professor Penington’s other leadership roles included Professor of Medicine, Dean and Vice Chancellor at the University of Melbourne; chairman of Cochlear Ltd, Bio21 Australia Ltd, the Bio21 Institute, and Bionic Vision Australia; and former president of Museum Victoria.

John Ryan, CEO of Penington Institute said: “David’s outstanding leadership in HIV/AIDS saved thousands of Australian lives, an approach emulated internationally.

“He changed for the better the way governments and the Australian community understand and manage drug use issues.

“He was courageous, generous and always concerned for the most vulnerable.

“It was my great privilege to learn from him, to be guided by his unmatched intellect and to have enjoyed his support, both personally and professionally.”

Penington Institute extends the deepest condolences to Professor Penington’s wife Sonay and extended family at this difficult time.


We push for an effective regulatory framework for cannabis defined by public health goals, with priority placed on targeted prevention, education, and treatment.


Penington Institute is the global coordinator of International Overdose Awareness Day, the most visible of our initiatives tackling the overdose crisis.

Our Impact

The Bulletin

The Bulletin is a specialty publication for frontline workers in Australia’s Needle and Syringe Programs (NSPs).