Proposed Drug and Alcohol Policy Consultation - Next Steps

21 June 2017

The Public Service Association (PSA) thank members in DPTI for their extensive feedback and concerns regarding the proposed Drug and Alcohol Policy provided through engagement at meetings, email and phone calls to the PSA.

The volume of feedback received shows how widely the level of concern regarding this proposal is impacting. The overwhelming consensus among members is that this proposal lacks detail, is draconian and the Department has not communicated sufficiently why DPTI needs this policy. This is particularly when the Department has measures already in place to manage anyone who is under the influence of illicit drugs and posing a risk to staff or under-performing.

Members outright reject that there are problems across DPTI wide enough to cause this blanket zero-tolerance policy and believe the Department needs to deal with performance or safety issues with those concerned. Members also reject the notion put forward that all DPTI staff need to be covered by the same policy as the Rail Safety Workers, prescribed in legislation, and point to other Government Drug and Alcohol Policies that reflect diverse work-groups and the level of risk these work-groups undertake.

Some of the other key themes raised through the consultation include the invasion of privacy relating to prescription medications, ‘over the counter’ medicines, the testing process (including the random method of testing), the disciplinary process under the policy, and the responsibilities of managers under this policy.

Members have also expressed deep disappointment in how the proposals have been communicated by DPTI. This including the emailed message from the Chief Executive, stating the policy was to begin in January, before sufficient consultation took place or the unions were notified. Members are disappointed that Employee Representative Associations had to take DPTI to the Industrial Relations Commission to get the Department to allow for proper consultation to take place. Members feel that both the nature of the proposal and the way in which the proposal has been communicated is a further blow from the Department to employees, at a time when staff morale is already at a low point.

Despite the concerns raised, members will not object to a reasonable, rational policy that has had input from all work-groups and addresses the concerns raised through this process.

Following the PSA’s feedback to DPTI on the policy, the PSA expects that DPTI will respond to the feedback as well as feedback given directly to DPTI. The PSA expects that DPTI will need to make changes to the proposed policy to reflect the feedback given, which will need to go out for a further consultation period. Members have indicated that they will not accept this policy as it currently stands, and look forward to seeing their feedback reflected in a new proposal.

The PSA will continue to keep members updated.