Previously known as Climate Schools, OurFutures has been through rigorous development and review processes over the past two decades. The effectiveness of the online courses has been established in 8 large randomised controlled trials (RCTs), including >21,000 students from 240 schools across Australia.
OurFutures is led by Ken Wallace (CEO), Professor Maree Teesson and Professor Nicola Newton, Risha Premarajah, Francesca Wallis, and Felipe Frias with ongoing research and expertises with Dr Lauren Gardner, Dr Katrina Champion, Dr Amy-Leigh Rowe, and Lyra Egan from the Matilda Centre at The University of Sydney.
The development and evaluation of OurFutures was made possible through a number of research grants and fellowships awarded to Prof Teesson, Prof Newton, Dr Champion, Dr Vogl and their colleagues, at the Matilda Centre, the University of Sydney, and the University of New South Wales.
Our team has received over 20 awards for our work developing, evaluating and disseminating the OurFutures courses. More information about the evaluation of the trials can be found on the evidence page, but here are some highlights from the journey to the program you’re seeing today.
CEO Ken Wallace
Ken Wallace has twenty years experience in technology organisations with a passion for and focus on Education Technology and e-learning. He was co-founder, CEO and chair of Educator Impact. He has also held senior executive roles including COO at kidsbook.io and CTO at Emagine International. He has been a board member for Not For Profit advocacy group Jubilee Australia Research Centre. He is currently on the advisory board of Medtech start-up Cordifio.
Professor Maree Teesson
Professor Maree Teesson AC is Co-founder and Director of OurFutures Institute, Director of the Matilda Centre and Director of the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Prevention and Early Intervention in Mental Illness and Substance Use (PREMISE) at the University of Sydney. Maree is Chair of Australia's Mental Health Think Tank and Chair of the Million Minds Mental Health Research Mission Expert Advisory Panel. Maree is a Former National Mental Health Commissioner (2018-2021). Maree is nationally and internationally renowned for her research on the comorbidity between mental health and substance use disorders. Recently Maree was appointed to the National School Reform Ministerial Reference Group that will advise Education Ministers on school reforms.
Professor Nicola Newton
Professor Nicola Newton is Co-founder and Director of OurFutures Institute and is an NHMRC Career Development Fellow and Director of Prevention at the Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use at the University of Sydney. She is also Prevention Lead at the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Prevention and Early Intervention in Mental Illness and Substance Use (PREMISE) and Vice-president for the Alliance for the Prevention of Mental Disorders.
Risha has over 10 years’ experience in event planning, operations and project management in a range of sectors, including education, legal, health, government and industry. Risha worked closely with senior internal stakeholders at the University of Sydney to drive the establishment of the not-for-profit, Our Futures Institute, and continues to support the organisation to drive business operations and partnerships. She is passionate about mental health and harm reduction for substance use prevention in youth.
Senior Customer Success and Sales Representative
Felipe is a skilled Senior Customer Experience Specialist with over 16 years of experience across different industries. He excels in managing issues, supporting customers, and coaching teams to meet their goals. Felipe prioritizes patience, empathy, and building strong client relationships. He focuses on practical solutions, streamlined processes, and exceptional customer service for growth. Constantly seeking innovative ways to enhance the customer journey, he ensures unforgettable interactions.
Francesca studied Psychology and Gender Studies at the University of Sydney, and worked at The Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use on the project for OurFutures before joining OurFutures Institute. She has a passion for trauma-informed care and education research, particularly in the prevention field for young people. Francesca also worked closely with the Mental Health team at Matilda to help update the OurFutures Mental Health module to be more trauma-informed and LGBTQIA+ inclusive.
- OurFutures (AKA Climate Schools) has been cited in a number of influential reviews and meta-analyses (Faggiano et al., 2014 ; Lee et al., 2016 ; Tremblay et al., 2020 ; Rowland et al., 2019) examining the effectiveness of substance use prevention. Notably, Rowland et al.’s (2019) independent review indicated that Climate Schools was one of only two school-based alcohol and other drug education programs with a strong evidence base.
- Climate Schools has been used as evidence in multiple global reports (e.g. UK NICE evidence review 2019, UN World Drug Report 2015).
- In 2018, the research on the effectiveness of the Climate Schools programs was the basis for an Excellence in Research Australia high impact "case study" .
- On the 27th of November 2017, Climate Schools was cited as an effective program in the Australian Drug Foundation webinar on Australian Drug Education in Schools.
- In 2014, the Climate Schools: Alcohol and Cannabis course was included in the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA) “Alcohol Education: What really works in Schools” policy document for schools and was given three stars for effectiveness - the highest rating.
- In 2013, the Climate Schools: Alcohol and Cannabis course was reviewed by, and included on, the prestigious US National Register of Evidence-based Programs and Practices.
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