News & Events

Rehab Experience A Job Advantage

20 Mar 2017


POSITION VACANT: Must be enthusiastic, demonstrate leadership skills and strong work ethic and be able to work cooperatively in teams. Men and women who have completed rehabilitation for alcohol and other drug addiction are encouraged to apply.

Employment agencies may soon be bypassed in favour of snapping up former Odyssey House residents for jobs at Australian Facilities Group, which provides land management, plumbing, fire protection and sport and recreation services to government and commercial clients in NSW and Victoria.

Six graduates have already proven their worth since mid-2016 and are paving the way for others, in what General Manager-Landscapes Peter Morath calls a ‘match made in heaven’.

“Our relationship with Odyssey House started after I spoke to a counsellor at a Rotary event. I was impressed with the program’s focus on personal growth, how residents take increasing responsibility for running the facilities and managing people as they progress through treatment. They learn property maintenance, painting, gardening, budgeting, office skills, stock management, and so on.

“The counsellor said many clients need jobs after they complete treatment. And I said, well, AFG is always looking for good staff in areas like grounds and garden maintenance, bush management, airfield and sporting field maintenance, general building repairs and pool and gym supervision.

“I didn’t know anyone who’d had an addiction, but I thought: Everyone deserves a second chance; we’re all human beings who could have had the same cards dealt to us. How would we have fared?

“I saw that AFG could help them get back on their feet, give them an opportunity and a sense of security and belonging, and we’d get good workers at the same time. Any qualifications they needed could be provided on the job or through short courses such as workplace health and safety, working at heights, truck and forklift licences and first aid certification.

“I hired our first two Odyssey House graduates in August 2016 after the usual interview process and background check. Within days I saw their leadership skills, enthusiasm and work ethic; they were getting on with everyone, even motivating others.

“It’s up to them what they disclose about their past, but they were proud of their Odyssey House experience and started telling everyone else. I wasn’t sure how their workmates would react to this, but it’s been positive. In fact, there’s some envy of these guys who have dealt with their problems, learned valuable life skills and have a positive outlook on life – their rehab experience is almost an advantage.

“I’m particularly impressed by how Odyssey House people don’t bottle things up – they talk about issues, seek solutions and communicate well. That’s an asset in an industry where guys don’t usually discuss feelings, or don’t know how to deal with conflict constructively.

“AFG’s workplace culture is a significant factor in the success of this initiative. Our progressive management approach and supportive environment is a good fit. We don’t have preconceptions when we recruit – a fair proportion of our workers have chequered backgrounds, and they probably haven’t had the benefit of rehab, although we do have an Employee Assistance Scheme to help staff with personal issues. We actively develop our people, help them fulfil their potential and rise within the organisation if they want, which I think is unusual in our industry.

“Our recruitment relationship with Odyssey House is now providing us with better staff than employment agencies! I’m in regular contact to find out which clients might be looking for jobs when they finish treatment. For organisations that have a culture supportive of people in recovery, I’d absolutely recommend giving Odyssey House clients an opportunity to demonstrate the valuable contribution they can make.”