The results are in! Insights from Australia’s first AOD workforce survey in over 10 years

August 2020

Over 1500 AOD workers shared their experiences of working in the AOD sector in Australia’s Alcohol and Other Drug Workforce National Survey. Funded by the Australian Government Department of Health, the survey was conducted by NCETA in late 2019/early 2020.

The survey report is available for download from the NCETA website.

There’s a lot to share from the survey findings – here’s some highlights

We have a diverse workforce in many ways. The National Survey sample included more than 30 occupations, with over 90% of workers coming to AOD work from another sector and nearly half of workers employed in their first AOD work role. Balancing this cohort of newer workers to the sector, around 40% of workers have 10+ years’ AOD work experience.

Professional qualifications and development are the norm. Most (67%) AOD workers in client service roles had AOD specialist qualifications or were enrolled in such courses (16%). The majority had access to clinical supervision or practice support (87%) and most (67%) could access professional development. There was a clear call for more training opportunities to respond to clients with complex needs, such as trauma, dual diagnoses and family violence.

AOD workers are engaged and dedicated. The saying that people are your most important asset is very true for the AOD sector. The overwhelming majority (93%) of workers said their work was meaningful and three quarters were often or always enthusiastic about their work. Lived experience may be a potent driver of this dedication – almost two thirds of workers said they had personal, family or other experience of AOD issues.

AOD work is very demanding. Many workers felt the pressure of a heavy workload (58%), with around 40% reporting high or moderate burnout and nearly 60% often or sometimes starting their workday feeling exhausted.

Particular issues need more attention and support. Whilst the overall workforce development profile is very positive for the AOD sector, workers in regional areas highlighted many challenges including limited access to professional development and difficulty in recruiting qualified workers. A range of systemic issues such as funding, cross-sector cooperation, leadership, remuneration and stigma were emphasised by respondents in their open text responses.

But wait, there’s more ….

NCETA has produced a range of user-friendly resources that highlight key findings from the survey and support the use of the survey protocol tool in future AOD workplace and workforce surveys.

Visit the NCETA website to download:

  • The National Report summarising major trends and insights
  • A series of Infographics highlighting key data on the workforce profile, employment conditions and worker wellbeing

A comprehensive User Manual and Survey Protocol including the full survey protocol and comparative data will be available shortly. Check NCETA’s website and social media for updates.

NCETA will be offering other opportunities to engage with the survey findings including:

  • A webinar, featuring Dr Natalie Skinner is scheduled for Wednesday 14 October 2020 at 1-30pm (Adelaide time) – save the date. Registration details will follow
  • A series of peer reviewed publications are currently being developed, offering in-depth analysis of contemporary workforce development issues for the AOD field.

To find out more about NCETA’s workforce development research program including other publications and resources go to the NCETA Website