How to Help: The White Jacket Effect

Published on 25 September 2019

Photo: The White Jacket Effect

Looking for a way to do your bit? Whether it's feeding people in need or fighting food waste, How To Help puts the spotlight on worthwhile causes that you can get behind. This week: The White Jacket Effect.  

Why we started:

“I’m a chef and I trained in fine-dining restaurants including Quay before traveling to the UK to work in Michelin-starred restaurants,” says founder Amber Kaba. “I fell in love with the fast pace and perfectionism of the kitchen but developed a coping mechanism of drinking alcohol to deal with the work pressures of the hospitality industry. After many years, I managed to quit drinking. It wasn’t easy. And one of the hardest parts was telling my friends and work colleagues about it. They all asked why, and going out with them wasn’t the same anymore, when I just wanted to be treated as normal and have my decision to stop drinking be accepted.

“My best friend and mentor, Richard, was one person who accepted my choice. He continued his drinking, however, and one day he asked my advice on how to give up. He said he wanted to stop drinking but just couldn’t make it last more than a day. I suggested some help, but the next thing I knew, he had decided to end his life. Seeing the impact of drugs and alcohol first-hand and having a personal understanding of how difficult it can be to discuss these deeper issues with colleagues and even friends brought home for me how much this is damaging a beautiful industry, and how unsustainable our current model is. The White Jacket Effect was born.”

What we do:

“The White Jacket Effect is an organisation dedicated to lifting the mental health and well-being of the hospitality industry. We have developed a course that specialises in dealing with the issues surrounding mental health, with structures and processes for hospitality organisations to implement.  We've held events around the country recently to raise awareness about the deeper issues around topics like bullying, harassment, lack of support, poor communication, drinking, drugs, stress, anxiety and time-management. We’re very grateful to the likes of Andrew McConnell and Cumulus Inc, Peter Gilmore and the Fink Group in Sydney, James Souter and John Leverink from The Boathouse in Canberra, Craig Fox from Wine & Dine'm in Brisbane, Danielle Gjestland and the Wasabi team in Noosa for opening their doors to us and for helping spread the word.

“It’s our intention to create safe spaces to open up the conversation about what's really going on and to address the deeper causes of the issues. Chefs, restaurant owners, business advisors and passionate members of the industry are assisting us to build our business so we can expand globally.”

What success looks like for us:

“Success for The White Jacket Effect is when we have the data to prove that we’ve improved the mental health of an organisation and all staff members are feeling empowered and supported and are flourishing. Our vision is to make this happen in Australia and then take it overseas.” 

How you can help:

Get involved with White Jacket Effect by doing any or all of the following

- Liking us on Facebook, or joining our mailing list.

- Holding an event to raise awareness about mental health in the hospitality industry (contact for support in doing this)

- Supporting our Go Fund Me page

- Registering your interest to participate in our course by emailing