Module 11: young people and drugs - issues for workers: facilitator's guide

4.3 The code of ethics for alcohol and other drug workers

Page last updated: 2004

By the end of the last exercise you should have developed a rough draft of your own code of ethics for your organisation. After discussion with other workers, you have hopefully improved the existing document for your organisation.

The following Code of Ethics for Alcohol and Other Drug Workers is presented as an example. It was developed in 1993 after consultation with a range of treatment agencies and many have adapted it to suit their work and client groups. Note the combined emphasis on the quality and effectiveness of service delivery.

Review and reflection
Overhead transparency
Summary

Review and reflection

Task

Inform learners that people who work in the alcohol and other drugs field come from diverse backgrounds and professions. While individuals bring their own personal and professional ethics to their work, clients have a right to expect high ethical standards which are consistent across different services and workers.

The code of ethics for Alcohol and Other Drug Workers was developed in 1993 after consultation with a range of treatment agencies. Many have adapted it to suit their work and client groups.

The facilitator should read through the code of ethics with learners, noting the combined emphasis on the quality and effectiveness of service delivery.

It has been provided as an example of the way codes are developed to fit with the requirements of a particular field.

Learners should be encouraged to comment on the differences between this document and the one they have created. What did they miss?

What did they include in their code that is missing from this 'official' version?

Do the young people with whom learners work have special needs or issues that have not been addressed by this code of ethics? What are they?

Ask learners to compare this document with the code of ethics they developed and if possible with the code of ethics from their own organisation. Can they come up with a definitive document (i.e. the best possible combination)?
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The code of ethics for alcohol and other drug workers

Equity and access is important in service provision

Clients should have ready access to the services they need and should receive equal treatment for equal need. This is particularly important for people who have dual or multiple problems as they are often referred from one service to another without receiving appropriate treatment.

Services should be responsive to the individual's needs

Services should be relevant and responsive to the individual needs of clients. They should be appropriate for the client's gender, social circumstances, ethnic and cultural background and take into account any other problems or disabilities the person may have (for example: mental illness; intellectual, physical or sensory disability; brain injury or chronic illness). The client's values, expectations and belief systems should be respected.

Services should provide opportunities for clients and ex-clients to participate in the planning, development, management and evaluation of services which will help ensure that services are relevant and responsive to clients.

Services should be effective

Services should deliver a positive outcome for the client. The overall effectiveness of services should be measured from the perspective of the client. Services should hold regular planning and evaluation sessions. Programs that are not effective should be revised and amended so they do provide a positive outcome.

Services should be cost efficient

Services should be efficient and use the available resources to achieve the best possible effect.

Task - writing exercise/group activity

Compare this document to your own draft 'code'. Discuss the following questions with other learners.

Question - Does your document clearly address the realities of working with young people with AOD issues?

Question - Is your document workable? Does it give clear directions about what type of behaviour is expected?

Question - Is it an improvement on your current workplace document? If so, could you present if at a staff meeting?

Overhead transparency

The code of ethics for alcohol and other drug workers includes:
  • Equity and access is important in service provision
  • Services should be responsive to the individual's needs
  • Services should be effective
  • Services should be cost efficient.
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Summary

Overhead transparency

  • A code of conduct deals with general standards of conduct. It acts as a set of guidelines or ground rules.

  • To be effective, a code of conduct needs to address the needs and rights of young people, the needs and rights of workers and the needs and rights of the employer.