Drug testing steps up

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Ben Willee (author)

Topic(s): Establishments, Bases and Headquarters, Recruitment, Ships, Boats and Submarines, Health, Fitness and Wellbeing

Chief Petty Officer Naval Police Coxswain Peter Hilton instructs Warrant Officer Boatswain Phillip Durnan on the correct use of the Royal Australian Navy breathalyser. (photo: Unknown)
Chief Petty Officer Naval Police Coxswain Peter Hilton instructs Warrant Officer Boatswain Phillip Durnan on the correct use of the Royal Australian Navy breathalyser.

Keeping Navy workplaces drug-free is not only a priority for health and well-being, and a safety issue, but also the core business of a team of dedicated professionals.
The team delivering Navy’s Prohibited Substances Testing Program is currently on track to better the Australian Defence Force requirement to test 25 per cent of all members in a financial year. 
Deputy Chief of Navy Rear Admiral Michael Noonan has directed that Navy will increase the testing requirement to 35 percent of the total workforce and the team is working hard to achieve the increased requirement.
Director of Navy Alcohol and Other Drugs Program Lieutenant Commander Kate Nash said that delivering a drug aware and safe workplace for Navy people required a whole-of-service approach. 
"To achieve maximum effectiveness as a disincentive to drug use, testing within Navy must be conducted as a rolling program, throughout the year across all Commands and locations," she said.

“To be truly effective and provide maximum deterrence against members using or becoming involved with prohibited substances, testing must be done at high risk times and in varied locations.

"Consequently, personnel should expect to be tested at any time and at any reasonable location. 

"It is encouraging to see Commands are endeavouring wherever possible to increase the creativity and unpredictability of their testing patterns and thereby increasing the value of the program within Navy,” Lieutenant Commander Nash said.  

To support this objective Navy is committed to training a broader group of personnel to support the Naval Police Coxswains branch who are the key drivers of the testing regime.
Navy tests for a broad range of illicit drugs including (but not limited to) cocaine, cannabis, opiates (heroin, codeine, and morphine), methamphetamine (ICE), MDMA (ecstasy), MDA, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, anabolic agents (steroids) and synthetic cannabis.  

The Program also supports the detection of prohibited substance use resulting from the misuse of over the counter and prescription medication.

Urinalysis has been used by Defence as the sole means of testing for prohibited substances since June 2005 and remains an effective tool to both deter members from using prohibited substances and detect the use in those who do so. 

Defence is also currently progressing policy to enable a trial of alternate testing methods to be used alongside urinalysis, and the trial is currently scheduled to commence in within the year. 

Navy is committed to supporting the trial which allow hair and saliva samples to be analysed. 

The trial will not only gauge the efficacy of alternate testing methods within the Defence context but also provide additional tools to deter members from being involved with illicit substances. 

Setting the target higher is all part of educating members that a drug-free workplace is safer for all.

“Navy has historically always achieved the required target of 25 per cent and is on track to beat the 35 per cent testing rate,” Lieutenant Commander Nash said.

Navy also continues to test all members undergoing initial training at HMA Ships Creswell and Cerberus within weeks of their courses commencing.