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Iwi Initiates Random Drug Testing For Staff

June 1, 2005

Iwi Initiates Random Drug Testing For Staff

Mount Maunganui-based Ngaiterangi iwi has adopted a random drug testing policy for its public health employees and is urging other organisations working within the drug and alcohol field to do the same.

Ngaiterangi Iwi Runanga manager Paul Stanley says the idea of randomly testing public health staff is to put them "beyond question".

"Our public health team initiated the 'Tuturu Programme' to show their commitment to professionalism. Our role in the community is one of leadership and we are keen to show we practice what we preach."

Ngaiterangi's public health team and other contracted staff work on various health projects in the community, including raising awareness about drugs, particularly methamphetamine.

"It doesn't work to be promoting a drug-free lifestyle if you're using drugs yourself. We are out there telling people to stay clean so it's important the people we are talking to know our staff are beyond question, otherwise we have no creditability," Stanley says.

"Drug testing is being widely debated in industry as a means of improving safety. Our focus is to raise awareness and demonstrate commitment."

The first random drug tests were taken last week and results have just arrived back.

"Obviously there is a strict confidentiality clause in the Tuturu programme including no discussion at all about the tests regardless, but I will say I'm happy with the results," Stanley says.

The random drug tests are conducted by an external agency and involve staff providing a urine sample. Five drugs are tested for, including methamphetamine and cannabis. Ngaiterangi CEO Brian Dickson determines when the tests will be taken, because Stanley himself has requested to be tested with his staff.

If a staff member failed a test they would be required to refund the $60 failed test cost and would be stood down from any drug education duties for at least a month with strict provisions.

"A positive drug test wouldn't necessarily mean a staff member would be dismissed, as long as they were co-operative in entering treatment or rehabilitation for drugs. However if the employee failed a second drug test within two years they would lose their job," Stanley says.

Ngaiterangi are urging other government and non-government organisations working in the drug and alcohol field to consider drug testing their staff.

"The tests themselves are financially viable and non-intrusive. It's vital to 'walk the talk'," Stanley says.

"We are extremely proud of our Ngaiterangi public health team, because they have raised the bar of accountability in the alcohol and drug field.


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