Alcohol and Other Drugs

  1. Background
  2. Policy Statement
  3. Policy Purpose
  4. Application of Policy
    4.1 Responsibilities
    4.2 Drugs
    4.3 Staff Impaired by Alcohol or Other Drugs
  5. Approvals
  6. Procedures
  7. Policy Review
  8. Further Assistance
  9. Appendices

1. Background

The University will contribute to the provision of a healthy and safe environment in relation to alcohol and drugs by:

  • Encouraging a moderate and responsible approach towards the serving and consumption of alcohol, and the development of workplace cultures which support health and safety.
  • Promoting an inclusive environment for staff and students who choose not to consume alcohol.
  • Promoting awareness of personal safety, security and health.
  • Providing support to staff and students who wish to address their patterns of alcohol or drug use in a manner that is fair, consistent, and respects the individual’s privacy and dignity.

The University does not condone or support the use, possession, cultivation or trafficking of illicit drugs or the misuse and abuse of prescription or other medication.

2. Policy Statement

This Policy is designed to provide guidance so that the University, its staff and students:

  • Maintain a safe and healthy work and study environment;
  • Minimise alcohol and other drug-related harm to individuals, property and the reputation of the University;
  • Encourage moderation and a responsible attitude towards the consumption of alcohol;
  • Assist the University to meet its legal compliance responsibilities.

The University believes that:

  • Comprehensive alcohol and drug policies and procedures address the reality of drug use and associated problems in the community generally and reflect a commitment to the health, safety and welfare of the University community
  • Members of the University community should not be adversely affected by alcohol or other drugs whilst engaged in University business
  • Members of the University community should observe local, state and federal laws in relation to using, possessing, giving or selling alcohol or drugs
  • Alcohol and drug abuse is a social and health problem, which is responsive to preventative strategies and appropriate diagnosis and treatment
  • The inappropriate, irresponsible and unlawful use of alcohol or drugs can adversely affect university work and study performance, health, safety and personal relationships and can result in damage to property, and can potentially affect the rights and enjoyment of others.
  • All members of the University community share responsibility for the University environment by demonstrating high standards of professional and personal conduct.
  • The University has a legitimate interest in taking appropriate action if alcohol or drug use is adversely affecting the health, safety or performance of an individual or group within the University, and/or where such use could bring the University into disrepute.

This Policy should be read in conjunction with the ACU Smoke-Free Workplace Policy and ACU Staff and Student Codes of Conduct.

3. Policy Purpose

The purpose of the ACU Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy is to provide guidelines for the management of the use of alcohol and drugs within the University community.

4. Application of Policy

The Alcohol and other Drugs Policy applies to all members of the University community and to all activities undertaken on University sites. This includes:

  • All enrolled students.
  • All Academic, Professional continuing and fixed term staff, Religious Members of the University and teaching staff in Centres (including casuals and sessionals) whilst they are working for, or representing the University in any capacity.
  • Contractors, honoraries, visiting fellows and visitors to the University.
  • Activities on University campuses, student accommodation (Ballarat) and teaching sites.

4.1 Responsibilities

4.1.1 Responsibilities of Staff

Staff members must not attend the University if adversely affected by alcohol or drugs.

Staff members who are taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs that have specific warnings on use that are relevant for their workplace duties must bring the matter to the attention of their nominated supervisor prior to commencing work.

Staff in charge of University vehicles and machinery, handling hazardous chemicals or undertaking hazardous activities must not be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and must at all times comply with the laws of the relevant state or territory.

Staff are to immediately consult with their manager, nominated supervisor or representative if they have concerns about working with another staff member because of possible increased risk to health or safety from the use of drugs or alcohol consumption.

Academic Staff are responsible for ensuring acceptable behaviour and addressing inappropriate behaviour in students. Where the behaviour of a student appears to have been influenced by alcohol and other drug use and this behaviour is inappropriate, unsafe or constitutes a risk to themselves or others, this issue must be addressed immediately. Teaching staff are to avoid acting in a manner that may itself be unsafe or aggravate the situation, and must bring the matter to the attention of their immediate nominated supervisor or National Head of School or if necessary Campus Security. Refer to Appendix 6 for more information.

Academic Staff are not expected to assess or counsel students who appear to be misusing alcohol and / or other drugs. However, they do have responsibility, where appropriate, to confidentially encourage students to seek assistance if they believe misuse of alcohol or drugs is occurring.

Any student who is known to be using or distributing illegal drugs must be reported to a Member of the Senior Executive or Campus Dean responsible for the campus, who will inform the Police.

4.1.2 Responsibilities of managers and nominated supervisors

It is the responsibility of managers and nominated supervisors in so far as they have direct control, to prevent and manage work-related incidents due to alcohol and drug use in an appropriate manner. (Appendix 2 refers to a suggest approach for early intervention). Please also refer to Appendix 1, “Information for Supervisors: Managing Drug and Alcohol-related Impairment at Work” for further information.

4.1.3 Responsibilities of Students

Students must not attend the University if adversely affected by alcohol or drugs.

Students are encouraged to seek assistance if they require support in dealing with an alcohol or drug problem. Confidential help is available through the University Counselling Services. Appendix 5 provides contact details for organisations who are able provide assistance in dealing with drug and alcohol-related issues.

Where a student fails to seek assistance for an alcohol or other drug problem and her/his behaviour is improper, unsafe or impacts upon the wellbeing or enjoyment of others, disciplinary action or other University procedures may be instituted.

4.1.4 Responsibilities of Event Managers

If alcohol is to be served at a University function, a suitable person must be nominated as the Event Manager to coordinate the planning and management of the event.

Event Managers are responsible for the safe conduct of the event. They must do everything that is reasonable and practicable to reduce or eliminate risk and minimise any harmful consequences arising from the conduct of the event. This includes ensuring that the event is held in accordance with relevant federal and state laws and University Policies and Guidelines.

Event Managers must ensure that the consumption of alcohol is a social adjunct to, and not the purpose of, the event. They should ensure that the event is fully inclusive and welcoming of staff and students who are not of legal drinking age or who choose not to drink. Adequate quantities of fresh and interesting foods should always be made available at functions where alcohol is served.

In particular, Event Managers should ensure that the event complies with University Guidelines for Events, especially including the Responsible Service of Alcohol.

4.2 Drugs

4.2.1 Prescription and over-the-counter drugs

While encouraging the adoption of a healthy lifestyle and natural methods to ease pain and discomfort, the University accepts that there is a place for the appropriate use of medicines.

The possession and/or use of medications, including prescribed and over-the-counter drugs, is prohibited except when prescribed for the individual by their medical practitioner or permitted by law.

4.2.2 Illicit drugs

The presence of illicit drugs on the University campus has the potential to cause harm to the health and future personal, professional and academic prospects of individuals involved. There are potentially severe legal penalties which can have serious and unanticipated implications for the person's future career. Illicit drug use can impact adversely on the reputation of the University.

No member of the University community, or visitor, shall unlawfully possess, use, sell, or distribute drugs while engaged in University business or on University premises. When a drug offence results in a criminal charge, the University may also initiate actions to protect or preserve the safety and welfare of the University community or the reputation of the institution, including disciplinary actions if appropriate.

Individuals who are aware of persons on University premises who are engaged in unlawful drug-related activities, or drug-related activities that have the potential to cause harm to those involved for the University, should advise Campus Security who will determine whether the police need to be advised.

Under the relevant state legislation, police will be informed if illicit substances are identified or suspected or are known to be in possession.

4.3 Staff Impaired by Alcohol or Other Drugs

Staff members working alongside colleagues whose well-being or job performance they perceive to be adversely affected by alcohol or drug use are encouraged to support the staff concerned to seek appropriate assistance.

Any staff member should request the assistance of University First Aid Officers who may call an ambulance if urgent medical attention is required for a person whose observed behaviour and work performance appears to be adversely affected by alcohol or other drugs.

Managers and supervisors have the initial responsibility to deal with situations in which the performance and conduct of an employee appears to be affected by the misuse of alcohol and other drugs. No person should be asked to assess whether another is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, merely to make a decision on whether the person is capable at that time, of performing their work in a safe manner. Please refer to Appendix 2 for a suggested course of action.

This responsibility includes:

  • Identification of staff whose performance is impaired by alcohol or other drugs Making a decision on the staff member’s ability to work in a safe manner
  • If necessary, asking the impaired staff member to leave the work area if health and safety is being put at risk. Suitable arrangements to ensure the person gets home safely (e.g. by calling a taxi) should be made.
  • Making a record of the incident in accordance with the University’s Occupational Health and Safety Policies and procedures
  • Providing assistance to staff members whose performance has been impaired by alcohol or drug use by:
    1. Providing support for the staff member to address their alcohol or drug use (for example, referring the staff member to the University’s Employee Assistance Program for counselling or other treatment options)
    2. Addressing any ongoing work performance issues utilising the University’s “Guidelines on Managing Staff Performance”

Please refer to Appendix 1, “Information for Supervisors: Managing Drug and Alcohol-Related Impairment at Work” for further information.

Where a staff member has been encouraged to seek assistance for an alcohol or other drug problem but fails to do so and his or her actions affect the safety of the individual, other staff or students, disciplinary action may be instituted.

5. Approvals

All approvals of decisions made in relation to the serving of alcohol at University events must be in accordance with the relevant University Delegations.

6. Procedures

The University will manage risk through this Policy and procedures that will:

  • Outline the responsibilities of staff, students and Event Managers
  • Specify emergency and security procedures to be followed in the event of an adverse alcohol or drug-related incident
  • Specify event management procedures where alcohol is being provided.

7. Policy Review

The University may make changes to this policy and procedures from time to time. In this regard, any staff member who wishes to make any comments about this Policy may forward their suggestions to the Human Resources Advisory Service.

8. Further Assistance

Staff

Any staff member who requires assistance in understanding the Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy should first consult their nominated supervisor. Should further advice be required, staff should contact the Human Resources Advisory Service, HR@acu.edu.au or extension 4222.

Students

Any student who requires assistance in understanding the Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy should first consult their National Head of School. Students seeking further advice should contact the ACU Student Counselling Services Office responsible for their campus.

9. Appendices

Appendix 1: Information for Supervisors: Managing Drug and Alcohol Impairment at Work
Appendix 2: Early Intervention Flowchart – Drug & Alcohol Impairment at Work
Appendix 3: Guidelines for University Events at Which Alcohol Will Be Served
Appendix 4: Australian Alcohol Guidelines - Risk levels for patterns of drinking.
Appendix 5: Resources - Obtaining Help and Information.
Appendix 6: Information for Teaching Staff: Managing Drug and Alcohol Impairment in a Learning Environment

Appendix 1: Information for Supervisors: Managing Drug and Alcohol Impairment at Work

As a nominated supervisor, the key things to remember are the importance of:

  • the safety of the affected person and other people
  • fair and reasonable treatment of the affected person with respect for privacy, dignity and confidentiality
  • follow-up support and referral for counselling and/or treatment for the affected person as required.

Identifying intoxicated or drug-impaired persons

It is important to make sure that the person is actually impaired by alcohol or other drugs as the person may be affected by stress, fatigue, or illness, for example. Observing the person for typical signs of intoxication may help to make that judgement.

Typical signs of alcohol or drug intoxication include:

  • speaking too loudly or too softly
  • slurred speech
  • bloodshot eyes
  • lack of alertness, for example, responding slowly to questions  poor motor control (stumbling, bumping into others, difficulty picking things up, etc.)
  • drowsiness
  • scent of alcohol on breath or person
  • rude or aggressive behaviour.

Ongoing alcohol and drug consumption work performance issues

However, workplace intoxication or drinking and drug-taking at work is relatively infrequent. The following behaviours may indicate that ongoing drug and alcohol use could be a problem:

Behaviours/Indicators Examples
1. Absenteeism
  • Multiple instances of unauthorised leave
  • Excessive sick leave
  • Frequent Monday and/or Friday absences
  • Excessive tardiness
  • Leaving work early/arriving late
  • Peculiar and increasingly improbable excuses for absences
  • Higher absenteeism rates than other staff members for colds, flu, gastritis etc.
2. “On-the-Job” Absenteeism
  • Continued absences from position more than the job requires while on duty
3. High Accident Rate
  • Accidents on the job or accidents on the job affecting job attendance or performance
4. Difficulty in Concentration
  • Work requires greater effort and/or job takes more time
5. Confusion
  • Difficulty in recalling instructions, details etc
  • Increasing difficulty in recalling instructions, details etc
  • Difficulty in recalling own mistakes
6. Spasmodic Work Patterns
  • Alternate periods of high and low productivity
7. General Lowered Job Efficiency
  • Missed deadlines
  • Mistakes due to non-attention or poor judgement
  • Making bad decisions
  • Complains about work performance and/or improbable excuses for poor job performance
8. Poor Relationships on the Job
  • Over-reaction to real or imagined criticism and/or unreasonable resentments
  • Wide swings in morale
  • Repeated borrowing of money from co-workers
  • Complaints from co-workers
  • Avoidance of associates

Appendix 2: Early Intervention Flowchart – Drug & Alcohol Impairment at Work

This is an image of the Early Intervention Flowchart – Drug & Alcohol Impairment at Work.

Appendix 3: Guidelines for University Events at Which Alcohol Will Be Served Procedures

Guidelines for Responsible Service of Alcohol

  • actively promote responsible drinking;
  • try to make sure that people being served alcohol do not become intoxicated;
  • provide and suggest alternative drinks to alcohol;
  • check I.D. for proof of age as appropriate;
  • refuse to serve alcohol to people who are intoxicated or underage;
  • look for ways to reduce possible causes of harm in the setting; and
  • closely supervise or monitor young people.

Liquor Licensing

  • observe state and territory liquor licensing laws.

Security

  • The University Security Manager should be consulted for advice and guidance on security measures to be taken for all functions and events where alcohol is served.

First aid and emergency assistance

  • check availability of first aid kit
  • check availability of a first aid officer if the function will have a large number of attendees
  • ensure fire extinguishers/hydrant(s) are serviceable and unencumbered
  • ensure emergency numbers are readily available

Appendix 4: Australian Alcohol Guidelines

Risk levels for the following patterns of drinking are as follows*:

For risk of harm in the short-term:

Low risk (standard drinks) Risky (standard drinks) High risk (standard drinks)
MALES
On any one day Up to 6
On any one day, no more than 3 days per week
7 to 10
on any one day
11or more
on any one day
FEMALES
On any one day Up to 4
On any one day, no more than 3 days per week
5 to 6
on any one day
7 or more
on any one day
For risk of harm in the long-term:

Low risk (standard drinks) Risky (standard drinks) High risk (standard drinks)
MALES
On an average day Up to 4
per day
5 to 6
per day
7 or more
per day
Overall weekly level Up to 28
per week
29 to 42
per week
43 or more
per week
FEMALE
On an average day Up to 2
per day
3 to 4
per day
5 or more
per day
Overall weekly level Up to 14
per week
15 to 28
per week
29 or more
per week

* Note:

  1. It is assumed that the drinks are consumed at a moderate rate to minimise intoxication, e.g. for men no more than 2 drinks in the first hour and 1 per hour thereafter, and for women, no more than 1 drink per hour.
  2. These guidelines apply to persons of average or larger size, i.e. above about 60 kg for men and 50kg for women. Persons of smaller than average body size should consume less alcohol.

(Table based on International Guide for Monitoring Alcohol Consumption and Related Harm, WHO, Geneva, 2000)

Appendix 5: Resources - Obtaining Help and Information

Alcohol and drug related problems can be complex and if employees, students and managers require assistance, a number of bodies/organisations are available to provide help (the list below is not exhaustive):

ACU Employee Assistance Program

Access Programs Australian 1800 81 87 28

ACU Students

ACU Student Councelling Services
Brisbane (07) 3623 7377
North Sydney (02) 9739 2390
Strathfield (02) 9701 4165
Canberra (02) 6209 1176
Ballarat (03) 5336 5403
Melbourne (03) 9953 3080

Alcohol and Drug Information Services in each State/Territory:

ACT (02) 6205 4545
NSW (02) 9361 8000 (Sydney)
1800 422 599 (NSW country)
VIC 1800 888 236
QLD (07) 3236 2414 (Brisbane)
1800 177 833 (QLD country)

Alcohol & Other Drugs Council of Australia

ACT (02) 6207 9977
NSW (02) 8382 2111 (metropolitan)

1800 422 599 (other areas)
QLD (07) 3236 2414 (Brisbane)

1800 177 833 (remainder of QLD)
VIC 1800 888 236 (statewide freecall)
1800 653 203 (statewide freecall)
Family Drug Support 1300 368 186
Lifeline 13 11 14
WorkCover NSW 131 050
Centre for Education and Information on Drugs and Alcohol (CEIDA) (02) 9818 0444
Narcotics Anonymous (02) 9212 3444

Websites

Appendix 6: Information for Teaching Staff: Managing Drug and Alcohol Impairment in a Learning Environment

Academic Staff may form the opinion that a student is under the influence of drugs or alcohol where the student is exhibiting typical signs of alcohol or drug intoxication such as:

  • speaking too loudly or too softly
  • slurred speech
  • bloodshot eyes
  • lack of alertness, for example, responding slowly to questions
  • poor motor control (stumbling, bumping into others, difficulty picking things up, etc.)
  • drowsiness
  • scent of alcohol on breath or person
  • rude or aggressive behaviour.

If a student appears to have an impaired capacity to function effectively or safely, the lecturer or relevant staff member has the responsibility to ensure the safety of the student, other students and staff.

A Suggested Response to Students Believed to be under the influence of Alcohol or Drugs:
  1. Do not accuse the student of drug taking or being drunk. The student could be tired, unwell or have a medical condition (e.g. diabetes) that presents symptoms that may lead people to suspect drug or alcohol use.
  2. The student’s impaired capacity to function effectively and safely is the issue and this should be the focus of any discussion or report on the incident.
  3. Approach the student calmly and quietly. Talk with the student and assess if the student is capable of working effectively or safely.
  4. If the student is assessed as incapable of working effectively, being unsafe or a risk to others, the lecturer and other staff member may:
    1. Disallow participation in class activities until the student is capable of working effectively.
    2. Quietly and respectfully remove or refuse admission to the classroom or workshop until the student is safe to return.
    3. Escort the student to the first aid room (where available) – ensuring supervision and attention of the first aid officer or/and suggest to the student that they may choose to “go home sick”.
  5. Discourage the student from driving. Allow the student to arrange alternative transport (e.g. telephoning to arrange for their collection) or alternatively send the student home by taxi, ensuring that there is someone to receive them.
  6. In an emergency situation contact the next of kin, as recorded on the student’s enrolment records. When talking to the next of kin, state the student is unwell, rather than suggesting alcohol or other drug use.

Any behaviour that may have been influenced by a student’s mental state or use of alcohol or other drugs does not in any way limit the responsibility of the student for the consequence of his or her actions. Students who are suspected of being under the influence of a substance are to be managed in the same way that any other student who is assessed as being unwell or unsafe would be managed.

Where the behaviour of a student appears to have been influenced by alcohol and other drug use and this behaviour is inappropriate, unsafe or constitutes a risk to themselves or others, this issue must be addressed immediately. Lecturers are to avoid acting in a manner that may itself be unsafe or aggravate the situation, and must bring the matter to the attention of their immediate nominated supervisor or National Head of School.

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