Watch Sessions from HR23

Host City

Harm Reduction International is thrilled to be holding HR23 in Melbourne, Australia, at the Melbourne Conference and Exhibition Centre on 16-19 April 2023.

We would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we will meet, and pay respects to the Bunurong Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung peoples of the Eastern Kulin Nation. We pay respects to the Elders of the community and extend our recognition to their descendants.

A vibrant, dynamic city with a creative vibe, Melbourne is home to cutting-edge arts and culture, and an incredibly diverse and multicultural community – with over 140 communities and 180 languages represented from across the world. It was named the “World’s Most Liveable City” for seven consecutive years.

As travel writer Ellie Schneider explains: “Melbourne is a blend of bustling laneways, world-class restaurants and captivating museums. The locals love their coffee, and serve it up in abundance at cosy cafes. There's always a sense of excitement here – whether it’s in the city's fascinating flavours or fierce sporting rivalries. Attend a sports event, drink a cocktail on a rooftop and uncover the stories hidden within Melbourne's art-filled alleyways.”

Melbourne is a 24-hour city, with round-the-clock public transport in the CBD on weekends and free Wi-Fi throughout the city centre.

Find out more about visiting Melbourne

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We would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we will meet, and pay respects to the Bunurong Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung peoples of the Eastern Kulin Nation. We pay respects to the Elders of the community and extend our recognition to their descendants.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this website may contain images or names of deceased people.

Indigenous Australians are the first known human inhabitants of the Australian continent and its nearby islands. The term includes both the Torres Strait Islanders and the Aboriginal People, who together make up about 2.5% of Australia's population.

Aboriginal history says that "we have been here since time began". Today, there are 250 distinct language groups spread throughout Australia. Aboriginal Australians are split into two groups: Aboriginal peoples, who are related to those who already inhabited Australia when Britain began colonizing the island in 1788, and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who descend from residents of the Torres Strait Islands, a group of islands that is part of modern-day Queensland, Australia.

It is customary in Australia to start any talk by giving an Acknowledgement of Country. An Acknowledgement of Country is a way that people (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander not from the local area or non-indigenous) can show respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and the ongoing relationship of traditional owners with the land. As a guide, the Victorian Government uses the following acknowledgement:

This conference is being held on the lands of the five tribes of the Kulin Nation and I wish to acknowledge them as Traditional Owners. I would also like to pay my respects to their Elders, past and present, and Aboriginal Elders of other communities who may be here today.

You may like to compose your own acknowledgement. The key is to be aware of whose land you’re on, to show genuine respect and to use the correct terminology*. For example, the word ‘Aborigines’ is derogatory.

You can find more information about First Nations cultures, histories and experiences at the following sites:



*Australians Together Language and Terminology Guide is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported:

With hosting an international conference comes a responsibility to ensure that our impact on climate change is minimised, and HRI takes this responsibility seriously. Although the majority of our delegates come from within the host country and the region, we are asking people to travel from far and wide, at a cost to the environment.

We are committed to ensuring that the conference has a reduced carbon footprint and delivers compelling stories in sustainability standards and lasting legacy outcomes. We will take the following steps to minimise our environmental impact:

  • We have built in an option, within our registration system, where delegates can calculate and then offset their flight’s carbon footprint, with 100% of the funds received going directly to one of these projects
  • Our venue, MCEC, sources all of their food from within a 100-mile radius of the centre
  • Our food will be 100% vegetarian
  • We will partner with eco-certified hotels

Further information on sustainable programs in the city, planning a sustainable event and what various suppliers in Melbourne are doing in this space can be found on their website.

Melbourne Conference and Exhibition Centre, on the banks of the Yarra

Set on the banks of the iconic Yarra River, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre is just a short walk away from the city centre, providing the ideal starting place to uncover Melbourne’s world-famous laneways, restaurants, galleries and boutiques.

MCEC is internationally renowned for its incredible spaces, innovative design and commitment to sustainability – delegates will be comfortable in the light and airy spaces and the exhibition zone, sitting almost directly on the riverside, is flooded with natural light.

Explore the venue Read MCEC covid-19 VenueSafe Plan

Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre (MCEC) is the only centre in Australia to offer onsite accommodation, with the five-star Pan Pacific Melbourne and Novotel directly connected via private internal walkways. There’s also a huge range of accommodation just a short walk away – 6,000 rooms to be exact!

South Melbourne is a great location if you’re looking for accommodation right next to the venue – as well as the many hotels on offer, there are also a considerable number of serviced apartments for delegates wishing to feel more at home.

Melbourne has excellent transport links, if you decide to book accommodation outside of the city centre. Affordable accommodation can be found in Melbourne’s inner-city suburb of Carlton, only a short tram ride from the venue. Those looking for a more relaxed beach vibe might choose to stay in St Kilda. Just 4km from the Melbourne central business district (CBD), St Kilda is easily accessible via tram and is an affordable choice for Melbourne accommodation.


If you are using a hotel booking site such as, you can search for hotels by distance from MCEC (search for Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre). If you would prefer the flexibility of an apartment stay, rather than a hotel, there are a huge number of options to choose from. When booking on, use ‘Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre’ as your searching point. Apartments are very reasonably priced in Melbourne. has some great tips for travellers with varying budgets and needs.

More information to follow on official conference partner hotels.

You must obtain a visa prior to entry if you come from a country with a visa requirement for entering Australia.

Read more about visas here

Letter of invitation

An invitation letter will only be provided to participants who have registered and paid the required registration fees in full for the conference. Once you have paid, your visa letter will be available to download in your online account. You can log in here.

Please note that Harm Reduction International will not be able to contact or intervene with any Embassy or Consulate office on behalf of a participant. The invitation letter does not financially obligate Harm Reduction International in any way.

Invitation letters are available as pdfs. If original invitation letters are required, please note that they will be sent by regular mail. In case an express delivery is needed, the participant shall arrange pick-up of the document on his/her own and will be responsible for all associated costs. Harm Reduction International does not assume any costs for express delivery.

Should the visa application be denied or not approved in time to attend the event, Harm Reduction International will refund the registration fee, minus a £65 administration fee, if and only if, the participant provides Harm Reduction International with an official document from the concerned Embassy/Consulate rejecting the visa and that the application was submitted in due time. Refunds will be processed after the event (16-19 April 2023). Please note that a notification sent to Harm Reduction International after the event will not be accepted.

Contact details

For registration support as well as information, assistance and questions regarding visas please contact


This procedure is intended to assist participants who need to obtain a visa or permission to attend HR23 and is not an official invitation covering fees and/or any other expenses or financial support for the conference. The organisers are not to be held responsible for the outcome of your visa application.

All refund requests must be received in writing before the conference. No refunds will be made for cancellations received during or after the event.

Indigenous Australia and a Brief History Lesson for Travellers

Prepared by Harm Reduction Victoria

The Australian continent has been inhabited by a diverse group of cultures – generally referred to as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Indigenous Australians, or First Nations peoples – for at least 60,000 years. Indigenous Australian cultures are by far the oldest continuous living cultures on the planet. Since the arrival of Europeans and subsequent invasion, Indigenous Australia’s history is rife with mass murder, dispossession, cultural genocide, disadvantage, and countless other crimes committed by both individual white settlers and by the state in a campaign designed to wipe them out. Australia is in many ways only in the very early stages of coming to terms with its history of racism and treatment of Aboriginal people. Indigenous Australians are per capita the most incarcerated people on the planet and deaths in custody occur regularly. Though there are some similarities with other European colonial settler states, Indigenous culture and practices are unique, as is the history of violence, dispossession, land theft, cultural genocide and innumerable other crimes.

This makes learning the basics of Australia’s history and legacy of colonialism important for visitors to this country. There are some important cultural practices we follow in Australia that will be unfamiliar to visitors to Australia. One practice you will be certain to experience at HR23 is the Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country.

Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country

“Country” to Indigenous Australians refers to the lands on which the culture and people to which they belong traditionally lived. The relationship between Indigenous people and their traditional lands is incredibly deep, a core part of Indigenous identity and one of the most important facets of Aboriginal culture. In their culture, people belong to land as much as land belongs to people. This makes the dispossession and theft of the land of what is now so-called Australia from Aboriginal peoples an act of extreme cultural violence.

A Welcome to Country is performed when an Elder or representative of the Nation whose land we are on, officially welcomes guests onto country. This will happen in the opening ceremony of HR23.

An Acknowledgement of Country, on the other hand, is done in part to acknowledge the legacy of land dispossession. An increasing number of groups and organisations will perform an “Acknowledgement of Country” at the beginning of any meeting or event in Australia. You will come across this at most, if not all, sessions at HR23. The Acknowledgement of Country entails a statement similar to the following:

We would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the [Local Traditional Owners]. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and note that sovereignty has never been ceded. This always was and always will be Aboriginal Land.

This wording can vary depending on the context or local situation. It is often followed by a sentence acknowledging the presence and/or contribution of any Indigenous people that may be present at the meeting. As the acknowledgement is getting used more and more, it is becoming more tokenistic. To give a meaningful Acknowledgement of Country, it is important to really think about what is being said rather than just reading words off a page; speak from the heart.

Knowing the name of the local Indigenous culture is critical to holding or participating in an Acknowledgement of Country. HR23 in Melbourne is being held on the lands of the Boonwurrung and Woiwurrung peoples of the Kulin Nation. Typically, in an Acknowledgement of Country in Melbourne, both Boonwurrung and Woiwurrung peoples are acknowledged – colonisation and destruction of important geographical markers has obscured the traditional land borders between the two groups and while there was recently an official agreement, for many this remains in dispute. You may also hear speakers acknowledge the Woiwurrung as Wurundjeri or Wurundjeri Woiwurrung; this is also correct but more specific – Wurundjeri are the clan with traditional ownership over the country in and around Melbourne CBD and its inner suburbs; they form one part of the larger Woiwurrung people as one of the six historical clans that form the group.

The Kulin Nation is the alliance of five groups in central Victoria that speak closely-related languages and share kinship and cultural ties – the Boonwurrung along Port Phillip Bay, southeastern Melbourne and into Gippsland; the Woiwurrung people of northern and eastern Melbourne; the Wathaurong people of Geelong and lands west of Melbourne; the Taungurong people to the north and northeast; and the Djadjawurung of the area surrounding what is now Bendigo and Ballarat, to the northwest of Melbourne.

Traditional owners in other major Australian cities:

Sydney – Gadigal [similar to Melb: Gadigal people of the Eora Nation] (CBD); Kuring-gai (Northern suburbs); Dharug (Parramatta/Western suburbs); Awabakal (Newcastle area); Tharawal (Wollongong area)

Adelaide – Kaurna (CBD & Adelaide plains); Peramangk (Adelaide Hills/Mt. Barker)

Brisbane - Yuggera (CBD/Western Suburbs); Bundjalung (Gold Coast); Waka Waka (Northern suburbs); Gubbi Gubbi (Caboolture & Sunshine Coast)

Perth – Whadjuk Nyoongar

Darwin – Larrakia

Hobart – muwinina [SIC; always uncapitalised – Tasmanian Aboriginal languages use capital letters only in personal and family names and a few other particular circumstances.]

For other locations in Australia, the easiest, if not necessarily the most accurate, method of determining the local traditional owners of a locality is the AIATSIS Map of Indigenous Australia, which you can locate here:

Other Important Information

There are a number of other things worth noting regarding Indigenous Australians. Largely due to the legacy of dispossession, genocide, violence and extreme disadvantage, Indigenous people are overrepresented in the so-called “criminal justice” system, the homeless populations, and in deaths in custody and overdose deaths; thus you may hear Indigenous issues discussed at the conference. In order to be a good ally, there are a number of things you should try to learn.

People who have died – Many Indigenous cultures have unique practices around death. The most important of these to know are that in many cultures it is taboo to use the name by which a person who has died was called prior to their death; it is also improper to display a photo of the deceased. This is not universal, but always check with an Indigenous friend or (ideally) a relative of an Indigenous person who has died before doing either of these things.

For more information, AIATSIS is a good resource, which you can find at

Important Indigenous Terms

Narrm – This is often used as an Aboriginal name for the City of Melbourne. Technically Narrm is the local Boonwurrung name for Port Phillip Bay – the large bay Melbourne is situated on – but in recent years has increasingly been used to refer to the city.

Wominjeka - means 'To come with purpose' or more commonly 'Welcome' in the Woiwurrung language of the Wurundjeri people.

Bunjil – is the creator spirit in First Nations Dreaming stories south-east part of the so-called Australian land mass. He takes his physical form in the shape of a Wedge-tailed Eagle, identifiable as the country’s largest bird of prey with a distinctly shaped tail. While it’s unlikely you’ll encounter Bunjil in the depths of the CBD, you might be lucky to spot him anywhere where there is open park lands and large trees.

Airport Transfers: There is no rail link from the airport to the city centre. Most travellers will find that the SkyBus is the best way to travel from the airport; groups and those with a lot of luggage may find benefit in using a taxi or rideshare.

SkyBus Express Bus Service runs a regular express service from Melbourne Airport to the City Centre every 10 minutes, almost 24/7 (barring 1-4am, when there is no service). The cost is $22pp one-way, $34 return.

Rideshare services available include uberX, UberBLACK, Ola, Didi and GoCatch. The cost is usually around $50, but this varies depending on the time of day. During busy periods, there may be a surcharge. You can check the rideshare app ahead of time for a fare estimate.

Public Transport: Melbourne offers free tram rides within the city centre.

To use public transport outside of the free tram zone, you need to purchase a myki card. You can purchase a myki card from retail outlets displaying the myki sign, visitor centres and at train stations. Use your myki card on trains, trams and buses. You’ll need to load your card with some money to cover your fares. You can top it up at convenience stores and train stations as your balance runs low. To start your ride, tap your myki card on the reader when you board your selected mode of transport and be sure to tap off when you disembark.

Trains are a great way to visit attractions across the city and reach the surrounding suburbs. Major stations in the city include Central, Flinders and Southern Cross Station. Use the Journey planner tool to find your route. Trains to regional destinations including Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Albury operate on the V/Line services. You can use your myki card on all train networks.

Driving: Driving in Melbourne is easy and safe, but you may want to check whether your hotel charges a daily parking fee. Melbourne is the only city in Australia with a ‘hook turn’ (a right-hand turn you make from the left-hand lane), so be sure to familiarise yourself with this manoeuvre if you’re planning to drive in the city. Having a car for part of your trip may be beneficial if you plan to visit some of the stunning destinations outside of Melbourne, but you can also book tours to many of these places and leave the driving to someone else.

E-Scooters and E-Bikes: There are two companies participating in a trial of 1,500 e-scooters in Melbourne, Lime and Neuron. The lime scooters are white with green accents, and the Neuron are bright orange. To start scooting, you need to download the Lime app or the Neuron app (or both, which is probably the smart thing to do). When you find a scooter, scan the QR code with the in-app scanner. If the scooter is available and charged, it will then unhook the helmet for you and you can get on your way. You can use the Lime or Neuron apps to find available scooters near you, and you can reserve one for 15 minutes while you get to your ride. Both apps charge $1 to get them started and 45 cents per minute, or you can rent them for a day for $15. You can ride them anywhere in the municipalities of Melbourne, Yarra or Port Phillip, but the power will shut off if they go outside of those council areas. Scooters & Bikes are around $1 to start and between $0.35-$0.50/min

Ride-Sharing: There are a number of taxi and ride-sharing options available in Melbourne, including:

- Blacklane: When you order a Blacklane car, a luxury vehicle with seating for 1-5 people will pick you up.

- Didi Express: This is Didi Chuxing's budget option. When you select an express car, an everyday car with seating for up to 4 people will arrive to pick you up.

- Ola Prime Sedan: Ola's luxury service. When you request an Ola Prime, a luxury sedan will pick you up and take you wherever you want to go.

- Shebah: When you order a Shebah car, a standard vehicle driven by a female with seating for up to 4 people will pick you up.

- Taxi: The traditional taxi cab. Taxis may be hailed on the street or called directly for pickup.

- Uber: The global taxi and ride-sharing app with a wide variety of options.

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HR23 brought to you by:
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In partnership with:
Melbourne Convention BureauMelbourne AustraliaAIVLASHMHarm Reduction VictoriaINHSU