CAN THE WORKPLACE BE PART OF THE SOLUTION to the misuse of alcohol and drugs?

Seafood restaurant chain Hunky Dory Managing Director and Founder, Greg Robotis, believes it can. And an Australian Government report produced by the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA, Flinders University, 2009), would agree.

The Flinders University report recognised that workplaces were “largely overlooked” as places to influence behaviours and to effect cultural change around the misuse of alcohol (and drugs).

“With Australia placed as worst in the world for amphetamine use, and among the worst for alcohol abuse and for a host of other drugs, it is a problem we all own as a community, and one we all have a role in addressing,” ADA Director Anthony Pettiona said.

Hunky Dory is rising to that challenge. It has this week engaged ADA Australia to train ‘Team Hunky Dory’ on the workplace hazards associated with the misuse of drugs and alcohol, and the risks these substances pose to good health and wellbeing.

For Mr Robotis, this is more than just a commitment to safer workplace practices, it’s also about the welfare of Hunky Dory staff.

“We’re a family business, so everyone at Hunky Dory is part of the family,” he said.

“And we want our Hunky Dory family to be resilient. If they feel happy and supported at work, and if they know the dangers that ‘ice’ and other illicit drugs pose, then we think they will be more likely to make healthy choices, as well as supporting those around them to do the same,” he said.

Currently operating eight fish and chip restaurants across Melbourne, and with more on the way, Hunky Dory recognises that education and training is the key to minimising risk and to helping its people make the right life choices .

“As many of our restaurants are licensed we’ve trained our team members in the responsible serving of alcohol to our customers. And we know that under our safe work obligations we can’t have any team members at work affected by drugs or alcohol.  But we want to take it further than just complying with legal obligations,” Mr. Robotis said.

“We want our entire team, everyone in our Hunky Dory family, to be healthy and safe outside of work, just as much as they are at work,” he said.

The alcohol and drug awareness workshops provided by ADA Australia will be run across all Hunky Dory businesses this month.

Uniquely, all ADA Australia trainers have been down the long road of addiction and, with the right help and support, have found the way back.

ADA trainer Ella Mano said, “Through this training, we can help others avoid the path we took. We hope our stories can encourage them to examine their behaviours around drugs and alcohol, and think twice before experimenting with these substances.

“We want to make a difference, one business at a time,” she said.

For Mr. Robotis, this initiative is also good for business. “You can’t build a successful business without the support of your team, without them feeling happy about their work, feeling supported, and feeling that they’re a key part of that success.

“That’s why we’ve chosen to do this. Sure, drug and alcohol testing can play a part, and we’d always reserve that option. But training, talking, fostering a supportive culture and making people aware, this is what changes culture, and we feel this is a far more effective strategy in the long term.

“It’s better for our team, and it’s better for us,” Mr. Robotis said.

ENDS.

Tim O’Brien
(Photos: Mark Avellino)