Amy Pennay

veski inspiring women bridging the funding gap grant recipient

La Trobe University

A veski inspiring women grant – bridging the funding gap is awarded to Dr Amy Pennay, Senior Research Fellow at La Trobe University’s Centre for Alcohol Policy Research (CAPR).

Paradigm shifting alcohol policy to reduce alcohol-related harm


Within CAPR Dr Pennay is the Strategic Lead of the ‘Intersections of drinking cultures, health and policy’ program. She is also a member of the Senior Executive Group at their research centre.

Dr Pennay was unsuccessful in securing funding for a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Investigator Grant Emerging Leaders 2 (EL2) in 2023 for her project “Paradigm shifting alcohol policy to reduce alcohol-related harm”.

Under the veski inspiring women – bridging the funding gap grant, Dr Pennay will lead a project that aims to achieve significant social and health gains and reduce the burden of disease from alcohol in the Australian population by intervening in heavy drinking subpopulations and ensuring policy options are tailored and sensitive to the target population. The project will identify the social and structural factors that shape drinking, harm, and policy success across heavy drinking sub-groups and develop nuanced and non-stigmatising strategies for reducing drinking and associated problems.

Dr Pennay has a BA in Criminology and a PhD in Health Sciences. In 2013, she was awarded an early career fellowship from the NHMRC to explore heavy drinking practices among young people. In 2018, she was awarded a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) fellowship from the Australian Research Council (ARC) to explore light drinking practices among young people. Her research sits at the nexus of sociology and public health, investigating how social and cultural factors influence drinking practices and health outcomes. Her recent work has focused on youth drinking practices, (sub)cultures of drinking, and intersections of drinking and policy with social determinants such as gender, class, race, place and sexuality.

Since completing her PhD in 2012, Dr Pennay has published an average of 11 journal articles per year with her work being cited 2851 times. She is the Strategic Lead of the Intersections of Drinking Cultures, Health and Policy Program at CAPR, overseeing a team of nine staff and 10 projects. She is the Senior Editor at international journal Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, has written 109 peer review publications, 8 book chapters, 5 Conversation articles and by invitation has edited five special issues in journals. Her work has led to presenting at 35 national and international conferences, five of which were by invitation. Her knowledge and expertise has been sought by governments and international organisations: she has provided evidence at the Parliament of Victoria’s Inquiry into Methamphetamine Use, and has presented to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Dr Pennay’s work focuses strongly on an inclusive and non-stigmatising approach. She is committed to reducing health inequalities from alcohol, and her program of work is positioned with a framework of stigma reduction. Traditional alcohol policy measures typically focus on increasing price, reducing availability and punishing ‘bad’ drinkers through criminal or regulatory approaches. She is staunchly critical of these approaches. Her previous work has described the types of stigma that heavy drinking engenders, and her research takes a more socially inclusive approach to foster more equitable alcohol policies.