• Tammy

Why local jobs matter

Updated: Apr 22, 2019

Employment is one of the best tools to assist people with their recovery. That's why we've been looking at ways to help local businesses engage with current or prospective employees who have used or may currently be using problematic drugs.

There are many misconceptions concerning those who struggle with addiction. Many people are struggling with addiction; however, only some of them are receiving treatment. A major reason for this is stigma and the shame it engenders.

We are not degenerates, we are your daughter, friend, co-worker, school teacher, influential person or a part of society” according to Chelsea, from

This sentiment is reiterated by Toll employee Michael In Australia, leading businessman and ex-Bomber’s chairman, Paul Little, is shocked by big business’s reluctance to get behind workplace drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs. He has worked to help former addicts through national transport company Toll Holdings.

"It's about restoring people's belief in themselves … that they can do something with their lives. And guess what? They become outstanding employees" - Paul Little AO told The Age newspaper in 2016

Bibron, who says the program helped him turn his life around after a history of addiction, jail-time and reoffending.

"It blows my mind the opportunity I've been given... You get the trust of your family back because you're working. You get your responsibility back. You get a bit of your self-esteem back" - Bibron told The Age newspaper in 2016

Tim Stoddart runs a successful marketing agency. He says his success comes from learning things the hard way. He describes it thus:

"It is my opinion that recovered addicts make the best entrepreneurs. Life has already given you all you need. You have a high pain tolerance, you have experience with hardship and you have great problem-solving abilities. The rest you can be taught, but the most important lessons come from life" - he told

His is not an isolated opinion. Here you can read about three companies that make a point of hiring recovering addicts. What all three companies have in common is their business models are based on encouraging temporary employment and helping people move on to the next step in their career. At the same time they understand the addict experience and offer employment and training.

"That’s important…”, says SRO prints co-founder, Sara Swinehart, “…because many addicts commit crimes to support their addiction, and it’s very difficult for convicted felons to get jobs." She went on to say "Most clients aren’t concerned with having recovering addicts do their (graphic) design work—as long as it’s quality. More often, they are enthusiastic and excited to be part of the company’s mission."

Here in Wangaratta we have a handful of local companies that see through the stigma. Clyde Hawkins of Fitweld Engineering makes a valid point when he says

“…I have six grandkids now, so I guess you could say I am hyper aware of drugs. If I’ve got a job open and someone’s got the right skills and a willingness to work then more often than not I’ll give them a go …over the years we've given a few people a second chance and they've been outstanding employees" - Clyde Hawkins, Fitweld Engineering Wangaratta to the Wangaratta Chronicle in 2017.

Food for thought, perhaps?

We encourage you to read the links we've supplied and to ask yourself, can your company contribute? At least to our ongoing discussion and awareness campaign?


Since 2015 the Wangaratta Local Drug Action Team has been working with its community to improve awareness of the facts and issues surrounding drug use.

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