RESEARCH: Agents using drugs LESS Frequently than other Australians

By March 13, 2022 No Comments

An article was published on the weekend in Australia’s mainstream media claiming that up to half of Australia’s real estate agents were using illicit drugs. It is a claim that potentially undermined some of the other aspects of the article which focus on legitimate issues affecting the people in our industry – things like the personal safety of property managers and high-risk factors associated with mental health. 

Sarah Bell is a Director of Australia’s only mental health and wellness charity for real estate agents and their families, The Rise Initiative, and she is also the Principal Investigator of the Revive Project, a longitudinal study of the health and wellness of Australia’s real estate industry, research that is now in its seventh year. 

“According to direct research and the extant literature, the real estate industry’s use of illicit drugs is below the rate of the general population of Australia,” says Ms Bell.

“Data from our most recent anonymous self-report survey with a sample of 933 respondents (due for publication in May 2022,) shows that 6.85% of respondents had used illicit drugs at least once in the previous 12 months, which is consistent with previous cycles of the research. This rate is LESS THAN HALF the level of Australians overall, which the Australian Institute of Health and Wellness places at 16.4%. ”

“Without minimising the significance of either of those statistics in their own context, when it comes to representing our industry to the public we need to take care to be as factual and accurate as possible. The article we are discussing is the combination of a statement and a forum that can impact lives and livelihoods.” 

“Everyone makes mistakes, and so it important that we correct information rather than cancel people,” said Ms Bell.

“The article from the weekend provides yet another far too common example of where the real estate industry prove to be the perfect villains for sensationalisation by outsiders – when the reality is that there are real health issues affecting the hard-working people of our industry, the majority of whom are not flashing $100,000 watches around but are mums and dads, paying off their own mortgages and missing out on their kids Saturday morning sport to do open homes in order to achieve that,” said Ms Bell. 

Notwithstanding the inflammatory and unverified report regarding drug use, there remain unique stressors to a career in real estate that can not be denied and are quantifiable by the streams of research that have arisen from government, private and not-for-profit sectors. 

The most confronting of which is the Victorian Coroner’s assessment on the risk of mental health-related morbidity (death) as 13 in 100,000 annually which places real estate in a higher risk category, even than policing. 

“If you add that to a four to six month wait time for new patients to see a psychologist in Australia, we have a recipe for inspiring people to recognise and seek access to mental health resources only to discover that they are not available. It is why The Rise Initiative took it upon ourselves to not only lead the conversation that is specific to our industry BUT to develop tooling to begin to alleviate some of those access issues,” said Ms Bell.

Primarily, access is through the Realcare App and through a web of other initiatives, including events and content aimed at education and outreach.

Launched in 2020 by The Rise Initiative in conjunction with the experts at Utility Creative and endorsed by Jeff Kennet, Realcare is a fully-funded and 100% confidential app available for download on all smartphones from the Google Play and Apple App Stores.

“With misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the people in our industry so prolific, we wanted the Realcare App to be a tool developed by our people, with our people, for our people with a simple remit to improve lives and save lives.”

You can download the app here:

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