Funding for drug rehab centre

A DRUG and alcohol rehabilitation centre, set to be built on around 20 acres of farmland adjoining the Princes Highway at Lucknow, has secured $3 million of federal government funding.

The Hope Restart Centre will provide for 112 residential rehabilitation clients for treatment of alcohol and drug addiction, as well as assistance for families in Gippsland, when fully operational.

The centre means people from across Gippsland seeking residential rehabilitation will no longer have to travel to Canberra or Melbourne for treatment.

Undertaken in partnership with alcohol and drug training and support organisation Odyssey House, which will provide therapeutic services, the project is being driven by a passionate group of east Gippsland locals.

The success of the project relies heavily on community contributions, as well as lobbying of different levels of government for funding.

Gippsland MHR Darren Chester said he was proud to announce a $3 million contribution on behalf of the federal government.

“This community-driven project will help to meet a desperate need in Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley for residential rehabilitation beds,” Mr Chester said. 

“The scourge of drugs like ice is having a major impact on our region and there is a shortage of readily available help for those affected.

“Most people in Gippsland would have a friend, family member, or know someone who has been impacted by drug and alcohol addiction.

“This centre will be a place where people can seek help in peaceful surroundings and remain within reach of family and friends. 

“The rural environment will help clients to recover and re-group before reconnecting with the community.”

Mr Chester congratulated the community group that had driven the project thus far, and said he would support their efforts to secure matching funding from the state government.

With East Gippsland Shire Council granting a planning permit for the construction of the centre last month, the federal funding announcement means the group now has almost half of the money it needs to complete stage one, which will provide 34 beds.

Brainchild of Bairnsdale’s Peter and Margaret Down, the project became a reality in May 2016 when the pair met with Odyssey House.

“It’s really unbelievable that we have come to this stage as quickly as we have,” Ms Down said.

“Nearly everyone you talk to knows someone who has been impacted by drug or alcohol abuse and it’s something we need to tackle as a community.”

Mr Down said the success of the project to date was due to the support they’ve received from the community.

“I’ve always said that it’s the community that will make this project happen,” Mr Down said. 

“The project has a high level of support and that has made the difference. 

“People are willing to be involved and they are making this happen. We are just the facilitators.”

Each resident will go through a proven individual assessment of their needs and a program to rehabilitation over four levels of treatment carefully mapped out by Odyssey. 

A resident may stay for three months, or to up to three years, determined by a client’s individually designed Odyssey program, with ‘graduates’ of the program having access to accommodation, training and post residential backup services.

The project is predicted to create 32 new direct professional jobs through Odyssey, growing to 50 or more after a year. 

In addition, Federation Training and Gippsland Lakes Community Health will add staff in their programs, and expect other existing services to expand. 

According to the ABS, for every $1 of wages, a minimum of $5 of economic activity is added in the region.