HDR Scholarship - A biopsychosocial approach to treating benzodiazepine dependence

Applications now open. A PhD scholarship is available to initiate and conduct research on the topic 'A biopsychosocial approach to treating benzodiazepine dependence'.

Project Supervisor

External Supervisor

Dr Jane Anderson-Wurf

Erin Oldenhof


Melbourne Burwood Campus

Research topic

Long-term benzodiazepine use can lead to an individual becoming dependent on the drug. Prescribing guidelines call for short term use only, but this does not always happen. Reconnexion, the Victorian state-wide benzodiazepine specialist service, has been providing education and withdrawal support for benzodiazepine clients more than 35 years and over the last four years has developed a partnership with the School of Psychology at Deakin University. The successful candidate will be joining an experienced group of clinicians and academics focussed on reducing the harms associated with benzodiazepine use.

Recently in Australia, prescription monitoring has been introduced to address inappropriate prescribing practices and the concerning rate of overdose deaths associated with benzodiazepine prescriptions. Although this has created a necessary impetus for change, history tells us that prescription monitoring alone is not enough to resolve benzodiazepine-related harms, and in fact often gives rise to unintended consequences.  A biopsychosocial client-centred approach to treating benzodiazepine dependence ensures that multiple and interrelated factors are considered.  This broad scope of this project is to work with a group of psychologists/counsellors and other professionals to improve outcomes related to the treatment of benzodiazepine dependence.  Individuals who have experience working in a health service setting are strongly encouraged to apply.

Project aim

This PhD program will be undertaken in collaboration with the Victorian state-wide benzodiazepine specialist service, Reconnexion. The proposed program of work has a primary aim to improve wellbeing and outcomes for individuals experiencing medium to long-term dependence on benzodiazepines.

The student will be working directly with Reconnexion, the key service provider in Victoria, in the treatment of benzodiazepine use. They will also have an opportunity to engage in a multidisciplinary team who have extensive experience in working with a range of clients with complex psychosocial presentations. There is scope for the student to have considerable input into the overall direction of this project.

Important dates

Applications will remain open until a candidate has been appointed


This scholarship is available over 3 years.

  • Stipend of $28,106 per annum tax exempt

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must:

  • be a domestic candidate currently residing in Australia (domestic includes candidates with Australian Citizenship, Australian Permanent Residency or New Zealand Citizenship).
  • meet Deakin's PhD entry requirements
  • be enrolling full time and hold an honours degree (first class) or an equivalent standard master's degree with a substantial research component.

Please refer to the research degree entry pathways page for further information.

Additional desirable criteria include:

  • A working knowledge of qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Demonstrated ability to work as part of a multi-disciplinary research team
  • Academic achievement or background in fields of psychology, public health, health promotion, implementation science, or the social sciences is preferable
  • Strong communication and leadership skills, clinical experience and a working knowledge of evidence-based practice in the fields of AOD and/or mental health will be advantageous

How to apply

Interested applicants should contact via email A/Prof Petra Staiger and attach an up-to-date CV before applying for the project. Applicants invited to submit a full application should follow the instructions on the How to apply page.


Contact us

For more information about this scholarship, please contact A/Prof Petra Staiger

A/Prof Petra Staiger
Associate Professor (School of Psychology)
Email Petra Staiger
+61 3 9244 6876

Dr Jane Anderson-Wurf
Email Jane Anderson-Wurf
+61 3 9802 8900