PHILLIP Island has been left without a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre that would process up to 58 patients at any one time.
The development, proposed for the old Warley Hospital site, was voted down 5-4 on Wednesday night by councillors.
The proposal had the tick of approval by council officers and would have assisted those with anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol dependency and drug addictions.
While the application by the Hader Group received six objections, Cr Fullarton said it had been a “contentious” issue on Phillip Island.
“It’s looked as a dependency problem, for me it’s a health problem, a community health problem and it’s an issue which we have to address,” Cr Fullarton said.
Speaking to health professionals, he said the majority wanted to see the rehabilitation centre approved.
The Island Ward councillor added he would have been the first to object if it posed a risk to the community.
Labelling the old Warley Hospital a “derelict” site in a state of “disrepair”, he said there had been no offers to purchase the building.
Cr Larke backed the comments by his colleague and in speaking as a seconder to the motion, emphasised the distinction between acute and non-acute hospitals.
The rehabilitation centre would be classified as non-acute.
“An acute facility is somewhere you go to detox or you’re an ice addict and you’re out of control.
“Non-acute is the follow-up to the original work that’s done with the patient to get strategies and tactics together to manage a proactive life, a productive life.”
He said there was an opportunity for Bass Coast residents to take advantage of the facility.
Most of the comments to follow speaking against the proposal focussed around the rehabilitation centre being in the middle of a popular tourist destination.
Deputy Mayor Cr Brett Tessari slammed the proposal and couldn’t believe council were even considering the rehabilitation centre.
He said more than one million people visit Phillip Island annually.
“And we’re looking at putting a drug centre just off the main street of Cowes.
“There’s no doubt that these facilities are needed and they’re needed throughout Australia, but right in the heart of our tourist centre, I don’t think we need to be facilitating this sort of thing.”
Acknowledging it was a derelict building, Cr Tessari said it would restrict the site’s future use.
At the rehabilitation centre, it would have cost $288 per night or $2016 per week, per patient.
The fees are not covered by the public health care system, but for some with specialist private health care, it can be fully covered.
Cr Michael Whelan maintained he wasn’t against the facility, just its location.
He said the plans for the GP service hadn’t been “spelled out” whether it would be 24/7 or if bulk-billing would be available.
At a public meeting earlier this year, Hader Group general manager Jackson Oppy said the rehabilitation centre was going to make a minimum of two bulk-billing GPs available to the public, seven days a week, until late.
He also said they only accept people who genuinely want to get better.
Cr Whelan said it was “nonsense” that council officers couldn’t consider the changes to the Cowes Activity Centre Plan that council decided to prepare at an August meeting.
Included in the changes was a Development Plan Overlay for the old Warley Hospital.
“That is crazy. We’ve gone to extensive consultation, extensive work to develop these papers,” Cr Whelan said.
“The agenda paper argues that the planning scheme says that this is an area identified for medical and hospital purposes.
“It’s that far out of date the Cowes Activity Centre Plan states that in fact the health facility will be moving from that area and that it will lose that designation and in fact it will move to the centre of town, something that’s already occurring,” he said in reference to the construction of the Phillip Island Health and Medical Hub.
Cr Geoff Ellis said there was a need for the facility, but it would be better suited in a rural area.
“I’m not basing this on a ‘not in my backyard’ idea because I live in Krowera and they tried to establish a place in Loch along these lines and I wish they would have kept going with that.”
Cr Julian Brown said council regularly hears Phillip Island wants more medical facilities. He added there would be “significant” employment opportunities once it’s built.
The centre would have needed a workforce of up to 40 people.
In ending discussions, Cr Fullarton said the community was “crying out” for a facility like the one proposed.
While Mayor Cr Pamela Rothfield didn’t speak to the motion, she voted against it.
After the motion was lost, Cr Whelan successfully passed an amendment which refused the application because of the “undue detrimental impact” on the amenity of the area, amongst other reasons.
Island rehab centre canned