By Craig Hingston
Drug-Safe Communities has announced a strategy to establish the nation’s very first drug safe industrial community.
The organisation, which was founded by long time anti-drugs campaigner Michael White, will focus their efforts on the Wetherill Park-Smithfield region. Michael began his crusade in the late Nineties after losing his business partner to heroin addiction, a tragedy which led to the closure of that business.
The announcement was made at a breakfast at Eastern Creek organised by the Cumberland Business Chamber, called “Navigating The 21st Century Ice Age”, where Dr Tharid Ali was announced as the person to lead this campaign.
“It’s all about changing lives and creating safe working environments.”
“For employers it also means increased productivity, improved morale and reduced insurance premiums when your work place is drug safe.”
Michael said his organisation has already reduced drug use from 15 percent to just one percent in Western Sydney companies.
“Seventy per cent of drug users are employed. They need their jobs to support their habits. Two thirds of them use their drugs at work.”
“Some business owners believe they know their staff and they but my own story shows just how you can be taken completely by surprise and lose everything you have to drugs.”
“When you consider that some employees are operating complex equipment and machinery, and they drive vehicles on the road and in warehouses, what is the potential risk to them and their work mates if they are being effected by the influences of various types of drugs?”
Michael said Drug-Safe Communities assists employers by running drug awareness workshops. Testing of staff is confidential and they try to keep people in their jobs. When they find people with an addiction issue they refer them to specially trained counseling services.
“It’s a case of three strikes and you’re out.”
Testing can be for all employees or a percentage of the business each time and results are completed in 24 hours. They also assist by helping to set up drug policies. Michael added that employers can introduce drug testing as a pre-employment program when they are interviewing. If interviewees are made aware of this and they have a drug problem it is unlikely that they will turn up for the meeting, and if an interviewee returns a positive drug test result they cannot claim unfair dismissal because they were not employed.
Michael said creating a drug safe community is good for morale.
“Staff are enthusiastic that their employers are taking action.”
Dr Tharid Ali is preparing to meet with businesses in Wetherill Park and Smithfield Drug-Safe Communities provides screening and testing services (oral fluid, urine and alcohol), assistance with development of policies and procedures, education workshops and training, competency courses, alcohol and other drugs awareness, mobile clinics, self testing kits and test results analysis.