A world of difference

  • Transcript

    Craig: If you really want to make a difference in someone's life you cannot find a better sector than the alcohol and other drugs sector.

    Meg: It's so phenomenally rewarding and I found it the most rewarding place to work because of the smallest changes can make such a huge impact on someone.

    Crystal: There's such a variety of roles and diversity of roles that are available so that you can be part of the greater sector but be doing things that reflect the skills that you have and the passion that you have.

    Nolene: When you get asked, what do you do and you say drug and alcohol, they say, oh that must be hard. And my answer is it's not really. They're actually really good people.

    Donna: I have a history of substance abuse myself and decided that I wanted to help others that had been through similar things that I have.

    Tom: I came from a relatively sheltered background that I thought I couldn't do the job, but my colleague convinced me to apply and I've stayed in the field ever since.

    Peter: Probably my biggest tools in this job are my ears and listening to what people have to say. You have to think on your feet a lot.

    Meg: I think you have to be a little bit quirky and a little bit left of center. We work with people who often push it to the edges of society and so they really struggle to find connections with people and so coming at it with a really nonjudgmental, compassionate and empathetic approach is essential to the sort of work we do.

    Donna: You need to have a thick skin because you're going to encounter things that are quite challenging.

    Craig: You have to build up a trust with a person. If you've got the trust and you can maintain that, I think you can achieve some amazing outcomes.

    Nolene: To have the support of your colleagues is huge and you get that. We even have psychologists that we can go and see if something happens, because, hey, we can be at risk.

    Meg: I guess the biggest thing I learned early on in my career is that you can't judge a book by its cover. We often find ourselves stereotyping these people, but really, I see people who are homeless and living in squats, but then I also see very successful businessmen who have managed to, unfortunately, pick up a methamphetamine addiction.

    Tim: No two days are the same. You're not quite sure what you're going to get. Some days it's unbelievable stories of recovery and hope and sometimes it's a little more difficult because they don't like the choices that you want them to make, but you can't control people and it's still about connecting with them and supporting.

    Peter: It's not about the drugs or the alcohol, it's actually all the reasons around why they use alcohol and drugs and those reasons are as individual as each one of us and I think that's what continues to fascinate me about working interest the field.

    Donna: The most fulfilling thing about my job is after you work with a young person and a couple months later you get a phone call saying, "Hey, just wanted to ring you and let you know that I'm doing really well and thank you for everything that you've done for me."  You can't describe the feeling you get when you get that phone call.

    Tom: Having clients call you back 12 months down the track and say, "I've got my daughter back. I've got my son back. My family have opened up their home and I'm living back at home with my parents." Having someone feel like a human being rather than a disease, that's some of the rewards.

    Crystal: The most fulfilling part of my role is to be part of making a difference in the world, I suppose.

    Tim: Jump in. It's an amazing experience and if you enjoy connecting with people in a real and meaningful way, you will find yourself in drug and alcohol. It's incredible.


Working together to help people recover from substance use issues can be a challenging but rewarding experience.

If you believe that change is possible and enjoy connecting with people in a real and meaningful way, this may be the career you’re looking for. 

Man smiling and sitting on milk crate in alley 

Once you’re in the sector, you can develop your career across a range of settings and roles. Alcohol and other drug (AOD) workers are employed in a variety of settings including residential, rehabilitation, withdrawal and community programs.

If you’re interested in getting involved, jump in. 

You may be ready for a job that’s available or looking to become qualified to work in this sector. 

There are job opportunities, career pathways, post-graduate scholarships, education and training programs to help turn your passion for making a difference into something you can do every day.

Young woman with glasses sitting down with hands clasped on her knees.