Gloria Chang: From Trinity to Dentistry to Making Drug Safe Communities

‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step’– Lao Tzu

Gloria Chang (TCFS 2006) has never been afraid to take risks and think outside the square to achieve her goals.

When Gloria was only 18 she left Macao to come study at Trinity College. It was a decision she had to fight her parents for, but Gloria was committed to following in her mother’s footsteps to become a dentist.

At the time, Wisdom was the only authorised Trinity representative in Macau, and it was not long after meeting with the agency that she convinced her parents she wanted to study at Trinity.

Gloria enjoyed the breadth of subjects on offer at Trinity including Drama and History of Ideas (HOI), and escaping what she describes as a ‘robotic style’ of teaching back in Macau.

‘I loved the atmosphere at Trinity, I was surrounded by elites, the students are smart, thinking fast and they’ve got a good foundation. I found that I learnt a lot with them,’ Gloria explains.

After completing the Foundation Studies programme, Gloria studied Medicine and Oral Health at Griffith University before moving to Darwin to fulfil her goal of becoming a dentist.

‘After I graduated and started working in dental practise, I soon realised that this might not be my life career. I found dentistry to be good, but it didn't fully satisfy me.’

Gloria felt more passionate about public health, and trying to enact change across the system by looking for something different from standard medicine and oral health operations. In 2016, she became the Director of Drug-Safe Communities for the Northern Territory.

Believing in changing communities one life at a time through drug awareness and prevention, Drug-Safe Communities provides work, health and safety advice to businesses on how to tackle drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace.

Gloria and her team are responsible for policy development around alcohol and other drugs, drug and alcohol awareness training and education, and helping to implement a drug safe culture within the communities.

‘It is indeed a learning curve for my team and myself, especially coming to this business development in this so called ‘sensitive area’.’

This is a problem that is particularly complex in the Northern Territory. Earlier this year, a story in the NT News reported that the use of ecstasy in Darwin is nearly four times the national average.

It’s draining and difficult work, but Gloria gets satisfaction in trying to improve people’s lives and achieve positive outcomes. Statistics show that in Australia currently 70% of drug users are employed. By launching the Drug-Safe Academy Program and Drug-Safe Ambassadors Program in Parliament house Darwin this coming August, Team Drug-Safe Northern Territory is expecting to build an army of anti-drug campaigners to tackle the “root cause” of substance abuse within the communities and at the same time create on-going job opportunities in a slowing economy.

In addition to her work with Drug-Safe Communities, Gloria also started a completely new cultural trend in the Northern Territory mid last year with a franchisee for a bubble tea outlet, Cha Time.

Despite not having any business background, Gloria felt this was a unique opportunity and has been fortunate to be surrounded by good people.

‘I always found that if you reach out and look for the right people to help you, then there’s always someone with the necessary skills. I have a very good team who have come to Darwin to support me.’

31 Jul 2017
Category: People