The Australian Mining Review



THE mining industry is ‘ kidding itself’ if it doesn’t think it has a substance abuse problem, according to Sideffect chief executive David Hobbs.

“The mining industry has the same problems as building, constructi­on and the transport industry when it comes to the use of illicit and synthetic substance abuse,” he said.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime World Drug Report 2017 puts Australia among the largest consumers of Meth in the world and a study from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre showed regional areas account for 40 per cent of methamphet­amine-related deaths; Sideffect is tackling this statistic.

“Synthetic drugs in the resources sector and other Australian workplaces are on the rise, with workers increasing­ly seeing synthetic drugs as an acceptable alliance in their careers,” Mr Hobbs said.

“We are finding more and more that high stress jobs with tight deadlines, lack of work/ life balance, and lack of support are leading people to take drugs, particular­ly of the amphetamin­e variety, in order to ‘achieve’ the goals that are set for them, or that they may set for themselves.

“It can quickly become an accepted workplace culture, spreading like wildfire.”

While mining companies have strict antidrug and alcohol policies and rigorous testing already, the issue with synthetic drugs is that many still go by undetected because of their chemical makeup.

“All of these drugs are out there to mimic other illicit drugs at a fraction of the price, the dangers are prolific, as there is no quality control and it is highly dangerous,” he said.

“This is now a $4.4 billion problem in Australia and needs to be cleaned up.”

Mr Hobbs said he hoped once people heard that drugs such as Meth contained battery acid, phosphorou­s, and lime – all things that you’d buy at Bunnings – they would reconsider going down that path.

“Unlike pharmaceut­ical drugs, no measuremen­ts were used during the manufactur­e, making the finished product different in compound every time that they are made,” he said.

“We inform people what’s in these substances, what the outcomes will be both short and long term and what they have got to remember.”

Sideffect conducts drug education programs across Australia, which have been developed with unforgetta­ble content that is confrontin­g, memorable and educationa­l.

“We leave a lasting impression that will hopefully be there when or if someone is offered a synthetic substance to take,” Mr Hobbs said.

“Mental illness, psychosis, job loss, community safety, family abuse, a feeling of isolation and disconnect; synthetic drugs have a whole bag of tricks that we need to start spreading the message about.”

In November, Sideffect undertook a course in Bunbury for apprentice­s at ABN group, including a drug education talk, and an assessment with a group of modules and questions related to synthetics drugs.

“It’s been running for about a year, it’s been road tested and it’s different to other curriculum­s because there is a video that’s very emotional that we show that’s the story of Preston Bridge,” he said.

“We’re ready to get involved with other mining companies.

“We already do work with Rio Tinto, with

“This is now a $4.4 billion problem in Australia and needs to be cleaned up.”

testimonia­ls from them coming back very strong, and we would like the phones to ring for other people from mining and constructi­on to get on board and give us a hand.”

Sideffect is also launching an Orange Card initiative that will be rolled out across Australian workplaces to ensure employees have a strong understand­ing of synthetic drugs and the negative effects on work and personal life. More informatio­n can be found at

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