At-risk communities, people with children and workplace initiatives
The committee's first report identified a number of at-risk communities
within Australia that are more prone to developing problematic crystal
methamphetamine use. This chapter considers treatment and support initiatives available to two of
these at-risk communities: regional and remote communities, and Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander peoples.
This chapter also discusses support services for people with children, particularly
women, seeking to undergo alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment; and
initiatives aimed at workplaces with a high-risk of employees using crystal
The National Ice Taskforce (NIT) and the National Ice Action Strategy (NIAS)
developed a number of strategies specifically aimed at addressing crystal
methamphetamine use in at-risk communities, families and workplaces. The NIT's
final report recommended the following:
- Governments to develop online toolkit to provide information and
support to families and communities to better respond to problems caused by
crystal methamphetamine use (Recommendation 1).
- Provide additional funding to communities to develop
locally-based solutions to crystal methamphetamine use and other AOD issues
(such as the Good Sports Program) (Recommendation 2).
- Governments working with accreditation associations and training
organisations to ensure health professionals (such as general practitioners,
regional and remote health professionals, and Indigenous health workers)
receive relevant education and training on crystal methamphetamine and other
psychostimulant use (in both urban and regional and remote settings)
- Governments develop 'workforce development pathways and career
options for more Indigenous Australians' in the AOD sector and 'strategies to
ensure the workforce is appropriately supported and sustainable over the long
term' (Recommendation 8)
- Develop specific crystal/methamphetamine resources for regional
and remote communities that inform teachers, parents, families and students
- Develop a comprehensive, evidence-based two-year prevention
communication plan that includes targeted activities for people living in
regional and remote areas, Indigenous communities, young people and lesbian, gay,
bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, and intersex (LGBTQI) people. This
plan should be evaluated after two years and used to inform future
communication strategies (Recommendation 10)
- Governments and industry groups develop a pilot workplace program
for high-risk industries (Recommendation 11).
- Governments should agree to a whole-of-government approach to AOD
prevention with a specific focus on vulnerable populations (including
Indigenous Australians) that works with vulnerable communities and groups to
address risk factors that lead to drug misuse, and roll-out of parenting and
early childhood programs that developed resilience in young children in
disadvantaged communities (Recommendation 12).
Governments to further invest in specialist AOD treatment
services that specifically target regional and remote areas (Recommendation 18) And,
- Governments, in consultation with Aboriginal Community Controlled
Organisations and communities, to improve access to integrated, evidence‑based,
culturally appropriate services for Indigenous Australians
These recommendations informed the strategies in the NIAS.
Some submitters and witnesses raised concerns about treatment options
and support services for some at-risk groups and communities. These are
discussed in the following sections.
Regional and remote communities
Regional and remote communities face unique challenges in regard to
crystal methamphetamine use. The committee's first report showed that
methamphetamine use in regional and remote areas is high, especially in Western
Australia (WA) and South Australia (SA). Illicit drug use in these communities is further compounded by social
disadvantage, lack of employment opportunities and limited access to AOD
treatment services. The committee heard evidence that called for improved data collection and AOD
treatment services to regional and remote communities.
Improved data collection
A consistent concern expressed to the committee was the lack of data and
a poor understanding of methamphetamine use in regional and remote communities.
Although the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program (wastewater program)
provides valuable insight into illicit drug use at selected testing sites, the
committee heard that gaps remain.
The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) submitted that there
is a lack of understanding 'about the nature of methamphetamine use amongst
rural and regional populations'. This poor understanding extends to the 'supply chains and market routes which
would inform strategic policing' in regional and remote communities.
The Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council Tasmania (ATDC) similarly
highlighted the need for better data on regional and remote areas. The ATDC
argued that current policies and the allocation of AOD funding is:
...made in the context of scant data on Tasmanian drug use and
service usage. The collection of data and information is a fundamental
component that scaffolds any service system. Such evidence works to enhance the
responsiveness of service provision. Data provides a rich asset about the
services that are being provided by organisations and to whom and whether
successful outcomes are being achieved for individuals and the broader
community. Information on region specific drug trends also adds value in
service design processes and underwrites responsible decisions around the
distribution of public funds.
The ATDC expressed concern that calls for enhanced treatment and
policing have been made based on anecdotal reports, and:
...to date, there has been a lack of any rigorous research
conducted in these regional areas of Tasmania to support these claims. The ATDC
wishes to highlight that the lack of data necessarily impedes responsible
allocation of public funds into law enforcement, and health initiatives.
The NIT recommended the expansion and improvement of data sources
available for illicit drug trends. Specifically, it recommended:
the establishment of the wastewater program;
- the expansion of sites for the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia
- a national system to gather and share ambulance data; and
- commissioning the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW)
to conduct the household survey on a more regular basis and to strengthen its
methodology, including the use of online distribution methods.
The NIAS included an announcement that there would be an increase in the
quality and quantity of drug data use in Australia via the aforementioned
recommendations, as well as enhancing national treatment data.
Improved services in regional and
Attracting qualified AOD treatment staff, securing AOD funding, and access
to treatment services are additional challenges for regional and remote
communities when seeking to assist drug users.
Professor Steve Allsop from the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI) discussed
the difficulties attracting suitably qualified AOD staff to regional and remote
communities. One challenge, according to Professor Allsop, is the lack of popularity
and attractiveness of the profession. Another challenge for professionals is working in very remote locations with
limited clinical support and supervision, which is compounded by the uncertainty of funding in the AOD sector:
If we asked the Sir Charles Gairdner emergency department to
apply for funding every year, they would be unsure of whether or not they were
going to be able to employ staff in three months' time. So I recognise that
there is a need for government to ensure value for money and that a quality
service is delivered, but we also need to recognise that if we want to retain
quality staff in very difficult circumstances—not uniquely but particularly in
the remote and rural areas—we need to come up with a process that delivers
quality, value for money and flexibility for government but also ensures
security. Otherwise you simply cannot retain staff generally in this field and
particularly in rural and remote areas, because of all the additional
challenges that exist there
Professor Allsop recommended that funding be set aside to deliver AOD
services more effectively in regional and remote regions across Australia, in
particular for the Northern Territory (NT), Queensland, WA and northern parts
of SA. He added that it is not just about setting up another rehabilitation
clinic in a rural town, but:
...looking at how we deliver services remotely, whether that be
through online interventions or whether that be using telemedicine approaches.
For example, there is a service in Western Australia, Women's Health Care
House, who have delivered services to remote areas using local expertise but
also using expertise within the metropolitan area to supplement that, using
technology. I think we have to look at better and more innovative ways of
delivering services. Yes, those rural and remote areas do need more services,
but they also need a wider range of options. We have to explore how we do that,
not state by state but collectively for those of us who have similar
Regional and remote communities in Australia face unique and complex challenges
regarding drug use and access to AOD treatment services. The primary issue is to
understand the nature of illicit drug use in regional and remote communities.
Without a thorough understanding of illicit drug use, the development of
appropriate responses is hindered. For this reason, the committee supports
calls for the collection of improved drug use data in regional and remote
communities, in particular, through the AIHW's household survey to ensure it
adequately targets and reaches regional and remote communities. Access to this
data will help community leaders, health experts and police develop informed,
evidence-based responses to drug use issues in these communities.
The committee supports the NDRI's comments that more needs to be done to
retain qualified professionals in the AOD treatment sector, especially for those
professionals based in regional and remote communities. The allocation of funding
to regional and remote communities, through initiatives such as the NIAS, will
help retain professionals. Commonwealth, state and territory governments should
also ensure secure, longer term funding to AOD treatment service providers,
especially those in regional and remote communities.
Finally, insufficient access to AOD treatment services is a part of a
broader issue related to the complexity of providing adequate health services
to regional and remote communities in Australia. The NIT and NIAS recognised
this issue, and the formula for allocating NIAS funding included preferential weightings
for regional and remote Australia. The committee supports this and the innovative delivery of AOD treatment
services through technology, such as online interventions and telemedicine.
Treatment services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
The committee's first report discussed Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peoples as an at-risk community for problematic crystal
methamphetamine use. The committee considered in that report the rates of crystal methamphetamine
use in Indigenous communities, in particular for young Indigenous people.
The following section considers AOD treatment for Indigenous
Australians, and concerns regarding accessibility, culturally appropriate
services and the need for further investment and training in the sector.
According to the Australian Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA),
Indigenous communities face a number of barriers to addressing AOD issues,
the lack of opportunities for children to access appropriate AOD
- few holistic service providers; and
- under-resourcing of the sector.
The AHCWA also reported that available AOD services often lack consistency,
adequate communication and collaborative partnerships. The AHCWA added that there are resources being directed to them, but there are
no 'effective outcomes because no-one is getting community agreement to work
with an individual'. A risk, according to AHCWA, is that Aboriginal people can become overwhelmed by
service providers, and the recipients of those services can form barriers to
effective treatment. The AHCWA spoke of the importance of cultural context and effective
communication in these settings, and that currently Aboriginal people:
...are not co-designers of their programs. We are not
co-commissioners of some of their programs.
Our communication is around body language not dialogue with
English. We have language barriers and we also have a number of socioeconomic
impacts that are contributing factors as to our social and emotional wellbeing,
and appearances and abilities to get change in our behaviours as well. What
people do not understand are the complexities around our culture. It is
particularly hard for younger generations to make that change. People do not
understand the cultural obligations that they have to their families,
particularly if they are entering the workforce. We live a very dynamic,
complex life. However, we know the dynamics that we are dealing with in terms
of service providers and the quality of care that we deliver to our people.
The importance of co-designed AOD treatment programs was also raised by the
WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA). In WAPHA's view, AOD treatment programs for
Indigenous communities must be co-designed with the community to provide:
...a sense of ownership of the service, be committed to what it
is seeking to achieve and provide local leadership with their community members
so that the service is not running at odds with the community but is well
integrated. If we are to prevent the trajectory of young people then community
ownership becomes key.
The WAPHA has established differentiated Aboriginal-specific services,
separate from mainstream services. These specific services are tailored to the
needs of Aboriginal people, which are integrated and linked with both urban and
rural‑remote communities. Indigenous people in WA are also able to access mainstream services.
The AHCWA called for funding to be directed to the underlying factors
that contribute to AOD dependency in Indigenous communities, and the
development of community-led, holistic strategies that target AOD use. Further, it was proposed that these services must be culturally appropriate and
enhance the capacity of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health
Organisations (ACCHOs). AHCWA endorsed:
...increasing support for community-based and community-led
services which will reduce the long-term cost and greatly benefit individuals,
families, and communities impacted by methamphetamine use, thus delivering
better, healthier communities.
Despite existing investment in AOD treatments for Indigenous communities,
the AHCWA was of the view that:
...the primary focus of government responses relate to
investment in law and other mechanisms, the cost of which is significant, and
which do little to address the causal factors of alcohol and drug use. From our
experience and perspective, this approach is consistent across both state and
Commonwealth government investment in our services with regard to A&D
services and programs. AHCWA, whilst supporting the need for law and order
intervention, particularly for those involved in trafficking and large-scale drug
supplies, propose a marked shift in the approach to methamphetamine use in the
The benefits of prioritising health focused investments, rather than law
enforcement measures was discussed in chapter 2. As noted, research by the
Australian National Council on Drugs showed that for Indigenous Australians,
there is a saving of $111 458 per offender if a person is dealt with in a
residential rehabilitation facility compared to imprisonment. A further saving of $92 759 is made when accounting for improved health-related
quality of life and lower mortality rates.
The AHCWA pointed out that since 2015, it has not seen a 'marked shift
towards investment for community interventions'. Whilst Commonwealth and state strategies aimed at early intervention,
prevention, treatment and support services are encouraging, AHCWA expressed
frustration because it is 'yet to really see that trust and faith provided by
commissioning bodies to our sector'.
When asked what the biggest challenge is for delivering culturally
relevant services to Aboriginal communities, the AHCWA responded that one of the
barriers had been its ability to provide:
...sustained investment resources for us to deliver on-ground
programs that are going to provide full complementary social determinant
programs, and to have them tailor made to fit the individual. We already know
the history of the family dynamics. Our particular sector has delivered more
than six intergenerations of care to a particular family group, which no other
service provider is able to perform. We meet the outcomes, and, importantly,
the number of service activities that we deliver goes above and beyond what we
get resourced to do; it exceeds the quality performance around ensuring that we
make a positive change within our individuals. We are constantly confronted
with some of our barriers, but one of our biggest barriers is not having
culturally appropriate resources in some of the regions at a localised level,
as opposed to some of our Aboriginal community members coming down to access
these major facilities in some of the regional towns or in urban towns in
The AHCWA described the Narrogin region of WA, a township 192 kilometres
southeast of Perth. AHCWA advised that a number of recorded drug users in that region
were travelling to Broome to access the only Aboriginal community controlled
rehabilitation centre in WA. The AHCWA added that this highlights the difficulty for Aboriginal people
accessing appropriate, quality care:
...of the differences within the cultural delivery of those
models of programs and...that family is returning back into the same environment.
It will enable them to have a sustainable revitalised change in life. Having
that treatment away from country does not have the same impact on them returning
back to their country.
The NDRI identified two issues faced by the Indigenous AOD treatment
sector. The first is paucity of data on the use of amphetamines in Indigenous
communities. Although research into amphetamine use is conducted, it is understood
that the results are under-estimated and are not representative. The second
issue is that many Indigenous service providers 'are skilled in treating
alcohol related problems, fewer have the skills to address the issues arising
from illicit drug use'.
Both the NIT and the NIAS considered the unique challenges faced by
Indigenous communities in Australia and ways to address AOD use. The NIAS
specified actions that included:
- increased investment in Indigenous-specific AOD services;
investment in remote Indigenous sporting clubs, as part of the
Good Sports Programme; and
- research into methamphetamine use in Indigenous communities.
$78.6 million of NIAS funding was allocated to Indigenous-specific
services, which was informed by the DoH's engagement with local Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander communities, through the PHNs, and by using population figures derived from the 2013 Estimated Residential
Population. Culturally appropriate mainstream treatment services are also available to Indigenous
Australians. Performance reporting requires PHNs to provide evidence to the DoH
that culturally appropriate services for Indigenous Australians are provided
under the Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program.
Since the release of the NIAS, the Commonwealth government has made a
number of investments in Indigenous-related AOD treatment services. Some of the
most recent initiatives include:
- on 4 September 2017, $1 million of Commonwealth funding was
invested in a Kimberley post-residential rehabilitation program, to support
individuals transitioning out of residential rehabilitation and back into their
- from 2016–17, an investment of $9.1 million targeting crystal
methamphetamine dependency, mental health, suicide prevention and chronic
disease will be made available through the North Coast Primary Health Network; and
- on 15 December 2017, it was announced that a further 14 NT
Aboriginal health services staff would undertake specialised leadership and
management training (at a total cost of $715 535) and that this new funding
would be shared amongst four NT Indigenous health services.
Indigenous communities in Australia face heightened risk of people
developing problematic amphetamine use. To address AOD use in these
communities, it is vital that AOD treatment services are culturally and
linguistically appropriate and are provided in partnership with communities.
The committee supports the work of Commonwealth, state and territory governments
in developing and investing in culturally appropriate AOD treatment services for
Indigenous communities. The NIAS, in particular, dedicated funds and
implemented measures that ensure PHNs allocate funding and services to
Although there is recognition, support of and investment in culturally
appropriate and co-designed AOD treatment services, the AHCWA's evidence
indicates that demand for culturally appropriate and locally available
treatment services remains. For this reason, the committee recommends
Australian governments continue to develop culturally and linguistically
appropriate AOD treatment services, in partnership with Indigenous communities
and Indigenous health experts.
The committee recommends that Australian governments continue to advance
collaboration with Indigenous communities and Indigenous health experts to
provide culturally and linguistically appropriate alcohol and other drug
Treatment and support services for people with children
A number of submitters and witnesses discussed treatment and support
services for people with children, especially women.
Professor Allsop and Mr Craig Cumming identified people with young
children, particularly women, as a vulnerable group. Mr Cumming explained that parents,
primarily women with children, often have privacy concerns when accessing AOD treatment
services, and fear losing custody of their children if they access these services.
Professor Allsop spoke of parents' fears for their children; that is, if
they access treatment services, do they risk losing their children, or what
happens if a drug user attends a residential or day treatment service? He added that some services have specifically designed programs to provide care
facilities for children 'to enhance access to treatment for young families'. One example of this type of treatment service in WA is Cyrenian, which
according to Professor Allsop 'has a facility specifically for women with young
children. I think it is a very good example of how the sector can and does
respond to these challenges'.
More broadly, the committee heard that there is a lack of support for
families that are dealing with a family member using crystal methamphetamine. For
example, the Palmerston Association noted that there was 'very little for
families' and that '[w]e need to look at the culture and the attitudes that
exist to enable families to seek support'. Problems of stigma and discrimination have meant that families 'mostly suffer
in silence'. Often families do not raise their issue with a professional service:
...because they think their son or daughter might be whisked
off by the police and put into prison. They do not want that; they just want to
get their son or daughter back. That is how families see it: they have lost
their child to this drug. So we need to create an environment where people can
actually come and seek support.
No, there is not enough focus on families. Families suffer in
silence. They either suffer in silence or they suffer in violence when their
son, daughter, family member, husband or partner is having a psychotic episode.
We need to provide more information, better ways of communicating and
understanding and the skills to actually say: 'No. I love you dearly, but can't
give you any more money. I can't take out another mortgage on this house.' That
is the reality for many families.
Professor Allsop spoke of the need to enhance the 'access of support for
families and others affected by an individual's drug use', and although there
has been a 'significant increase in the investment in treatment services...we
also need to recognise the needs of other people who are affected by a person's
The committee asked the Department of Health (DoH) about the NIAS's
consideration of family-friendly and youth-friendly treatment services. In
response, the DoH advised that it is the responsibility of each PHN to
undertake a needs assessment for its region and as part of that process:
...look at existing services in their geographic area, both
Commonwealth and state funded, work with peak bodies and others within their
PHN to determine where the gaps were, and then commission accordingly. It is a
question of whether youth services or family-friendly services came up as a gap
in the planning. I am not sure if it did. That would be the part of the process
where those issues need to be raised.
The NIAS includes actions such as the Positive Choices online AOD
information portal, and a national phone line for AOD information, counselling
and other support services. Other phone support services for families and their children are listed on the
Alcohol and Drug Foundation's website, which includes a number of organisations
that specialise in youth and family support (such as the Parent and Family Drug
Support Line, Ted Noffs Foundation helpline, Headspace, Kids Help Line, Family
Drug Support and Family Drug Help).
It is vital that families are adequately and appropriately supported in
circumstances where a parent or child is dealing with a methamphetamine
dependency issue. Failure to do so has adverse outcomes for the drug user and
The committee is particularly concerned about reports that parents, in
particular women with young children, are opting not to undergo treatment out
of fear of losing their children. The committee is, however, encouraged that specialised
AOD treatment services are available to people with young children and that
this issue appears to be getting more explicit consideration in some states and
territories. The committee supports these types of AOD treatment facilities and
recommends Australian governments ensure such services are provided in all
The committee recommends Australian governments ensure specialised
alcohol and other drug treatment services are available to people with young
children in all jurisdictions.
During the course of the inquiry the committee heard that there are some
workplaces more at risk of employees using crystal methamphetamine. For this
reason, some submitters and witnesses advocated for drug testing to occur in
these at-risk workplaces.
Holyoake Tasmania referred to the use of crystal methamphetamine in the
hospitality industry. Anecdotally, Holyoake Tasmania has found that there is a
high rate of use in Hobart's hospitality industry due to long working hours:
...we are finding quite a few people who are working in pubs
and clubs, that type of thing, who are having long or late shifts, are using
ice and it is becoming problematic. They were using speed but they cannot get
speed now so they are using ice.
Fly-in fly-out workers were also identified as a group with a slightly greater
risk of being exposed to, and using crystal methamphetamine.
The Penington Institute described some of the drivers behind crystal
methamphetamine use in some industries, such as the perception that it increases
productivity and alleviates boredom, and the culture of some workplaces:
People think that they can do more work, work longer, work
harder, especially if they are piece workers. Fruit pickers et cetera think
that they can pick more fruit if they are on ice. They make a flawed assumption
around the mathematics, which is that they will use ice in order to generate
more income. What ends up happening is that they develop an addiction, lose
whatever income, lose their tolerance et cetera. It is a false equation, but,
nonetheless, some people use it to increase their productivity. Some people use
it to address boredom in their work role, and some people use it because it is
part of the culture of their workplace—for example in the hospitality industry,
where people are working night shifts until 3 am or whatever and their
customers are quite possibly using the same substances, there is a culture that
develops. So it is absolutely not just about the trades or the building
industry—even though that is a very high profile issue—or the trucking industry.
The Penington Institute cautioned against the assumption that only
"blue-collar" workers are using crystal methamphetamine:
It is people on the land, on the farming lands, as much as it
is people in factories et cetera. I should say that it is also an issue on
Collins Street as well. I have heard lots of stories from people that work in
the corporate sector around ice use in the business community. It is absolutely
not just blue-collar workers.
In 2015, the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) called for workplace AOD
testing as a means to address the safety issues caused by illicit drug use in
workplaces. It recommended that crystal methamphetamine use can be tackled by:
...firstly, recognising that drug and alcohol testing at the
workplace is a key action that employers can take to protect the safety of
employees and the community; secondly, conducting work health and safety
campaigns aimed at educating the community about the risks created by ice use,
particularly in operating machinery and vehicles; thirdly, encouraging law
enforcement agencies to provide liaison services and dedicated hotlines for not
only employees but employers impacted by ice, including, of course, regional
and remote locations; and, fourthly, developing education resources to assist
employers to deal with the impacts of ice in their workplaces.
The Ai Group's 2016 submission repeated calls for drug testing in
workplaces. It claimed that the NIT and the NIAS are inadequate responses to
drug use in the workplace, stating that neither adequately deals with the
impact of crystal methamphetamine or other drugs on workplaces, and the
'strict statutory obligations employers have to provide healthy and safe
workplaces'. The Ai Group recommended the following amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth):
- section 194 'so that enterprise agreements cannot contain terms
that restrict drug and alcohol testing at the workplaces';
- subdivision D of Division 3, Part 2–3 'to prevent modern awards
including terms dealing with drug and alcohol testing' to prevent limitations
or restrictions on AOD testing; and
- other amendments that ensure 'procedural errors by an employer
would not result in reinstatement or compensation for a former employee if
there is a valid substantive reason for dismissal' to 'prevent a dismissal of
an employee for a serious breach of work health and safety requirements from
being overturned due to procedural deficiencies'.
Professor Nadine Ezard, St Vincent's Hospital, raised concerns about workplace
testing because it 'encourages subversion of the system if there is going to be
a punitive response to the work-based testing'. Rather than a punitive response, Professor Ezard suggested that the most
effective model is:
...where the health system is separate from employment such
that people are directed to the health system but the results from the health
system are not sent back to the employer. That is a very useful way of
detecting people's use and responding early.
Professor Ezard added that there should be trained health professionals permitted
to engage with high-risk workplaces, such as mining and commercial driving, to
provide health-focused interventions.
The NIT considered ways to address illicit drug use in at-risk
industries. It found that there is a lack of evidence 'regarding the
effectiveness of workplace prevention activities' due to 'challenges associated
with conducting controlled outcome and effectiveness evaluations in the
The NIT argued that despite this lack of evidence, preventative activities
should not be overlooked and workplaces are an effective setting for
preventative and intervention strategies. The NIT was in favour of a pilot program partnership between the Commonwealth,
state and territory governments and industry groups designed for high-risk
industries. According to the NIT, this program should:
- be developed in consultation with AOD experts;
- be rolled out across high-risk industries and for an appropriate
length of time to monitor its outcomes; and
incorporate a robust evaluation of the methodology used to inform
future workplace AOD prevention strategies.
The use of drug testing in workplaces was briefly considered by the NIT,
which recognised that this:
...is a sensitive and complex issue, which should be
underpinned by a clearly defined and agreed rationale, developed in
consultation with the workforce. Identifying lower-cost drug testing options
would enhance the usefulness of drug testing as a tool in a range of contexts,
particularly for roadside drug testing.
In response to the NIT's recommendations, the NIAS noted that
preventative AOD programs in workplaces are already run by employers and state
and territory governments. It also acknowledged that government needs to expand efforts 'in high‑risk
workplaces so they are better able to prevent ice use and respond to ice when
it emerges as an issue'. An action under the NIAS is to '[d]evelop strategies to increase prevention and
education about ice in high-risk industries such as mining, construction and
however, the NIAS did not address the role of drug testing in workplaces.
A range of industries, both "blue-collar" and
"white-collar", are susceptible to problematic AOD use. Crystal
methamphetamine use has been specifically identified in hospitality, transport,
agriculture, construction and mining, as well as corporate environments, for
reasons such as perceived increases in productivity and alertness.
A gap in the nation's response to AOD use in these industries is the
development of evidence-based workplace preventative activities. The NIT
recognised this need and recommended the development of a pilot program that
develops a workplace preventative strategy to be implemented across high-risk
industries. The NIT emphasised that this program must be thoroughly evaluated
to inform future workplace prevention activities.
In response to this recommendation, the NIAS called for the development
of strategies aimed at education about and prevention of crystal
methamphetamine use in high-risk industries.
The committee is supportive of the measures outlined by the NIT and in
the NIAS, and is of the view that governments and industry should implement
strategies to address AOD use in at-risk workplaces.
The committee can see the appeal of drug testing in the workplace;
however, such an approach must be given careful consideration in consultation
with employees so that consequences both intended and unintended are identified
and resolved, taking into account the rights and responsibilities of employers
and employees alike. The committee has a preference for the development and
implementation of preventative strategies in at-risk workplaces so that employees
with AOD use issues are directed to treatment and support services in the first