SALE will have residential alcohol and drug rehabilitation facilities either side of it — near Bairnsdale and in the Latrobe Valley — if a Liberal Nationals announcement on Monday comes to fruition.
With work already underway on the Hope Restart Centre at Lucknow, the state opposition this week announced its plan for another residential rehabilitation facility, this one in the Latrobe Valley.
In Traralgon on Monday, shadow mental health minister Emma Kealy, Nationals candidate for Morwell Sheridan Bond and Liberal candidate for Morwell Dale Harriman announced a plan for a new $7 million, 18 to 20-bed facility to address the critical need for residential rehabilitation services in the Latrobe Valley.
“When people decide they need to break the cycle of addiction, we need to make sure the supports are there to help them regain their life,” Ms Kealy said.
“Waiting lists for residential rehabilitation have blown out in Victoria under Labor, with some people being told they have to wait up to a year, and that’s just not good enough.
“A Liberal Nationals government will make sure that when people in the Latrobe Valley are struggling and need help for drug and alcohol addiction, residential rehabilitation services will be there for them and their families.”
Figures from the Coroner’s Court released earlier this year showed the Latrobe Valley had the second highest rate of fatal drug overdoses in regional Victoria.
Ms Bond said there was a clear need for local residential rehabilitation services.
“I’ve been working closely with local groups, like LV Family Drug Support, who are determined to see a local residential rehabilitation centre to make sure people seeking help for addiction can get that help locally, close to family and friends, and other people in their support network,” Ms Bond said.
Victoria currently has about a quarter of the number of residential rehab beds of New South Wales, which has more than 800.
But new drug and alcohol rehabilitation services for regional Victoria will result in up to 60 new beds delivered across three new residential rehabilitation centres in regional Victoria under a Liberal Nationals government — in the Latrobe Valley, Mildura and Warrnambool.
Meanwhile, Gippsland’s new residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre at Lucknow, an hour from Sale, is on track to open to residents in August next year.
Earthworks are underway and heavy machinery has been working at the site of the Hope Restart Centre, preparing an access road, storm water retention dam and consolidating the area for the main building.
Fencing is up and the slab has been poured to enable construction of a shed to begin.
Gippsland MHR Darren Chester, who secured $3 million to build the centre, gave a progress report in parliament and commended the local community for achieving the funding required to open its doors.
“The centre is expected to receive its first clients in the second half of the next year,” Mr Chester said.
“We’ll be working with people from across the Gippsland electorate, throughout east Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley.
The facility will be operated by Odyssey Victoria, a well-known provider of drug rehabilitation services.
Mr Chester said the quickest way to begin saving lives and reducing harm from illicit drugs in Gippsland was to get the Hope Centre built and its doors open.
Hope Restart Centre management board chairman Peter Down said work on the main building was due to begin early next year.
“We are on-track to start construction of the initial stage in February and plan to have it completed in July, ready to open doors to first residents in August,” Mr Down said.
“This stage is now fully-funded.
“It’s been a huge community effort and we have been overwhelmed by the generosity of locals and businesses, including in-kind donations from local industry professionals.
“The Hope Restart Centre is always looking for additional funding which will add value and enhance the project.
“Sporting facilities are high on the list of requirements.”