The Hope Restart Centre that will be built just out of Bairnsdale.

A VISION to help those affected by substance use in Gippsland is now closer to becoming a reality.
Peter Down is the chair of the Hope Restart Centre to be built near Bairnsdale.
He was involved in the formation of a committee that has used a successful Melbourne model to form the basis of a successful Federal Government funding submission.
“During a visit to Odyssey House Victoria at Lower Plenty in May 2016, it was evident that their therapeutic community based rehabilitation program was very effective, and that the clients and families there were making great progress,” Mr Down said.
An executive of local Bairnsdale people was formed and became Hope Restart Centre Inc. Inverloch’s Rebecca Slavin is working with the committee on this project.
“A partnership was formed with Odyssey House, who will operate the program once it is established,” Mr Down said.
“Alliances with Bairnsdale Regional Health, Gippsland Lakes Community Health, Central Gippsland Health, Police and other community services have also been established.
“Public meetings, open days and personal presentations have been carried out to inform the community. As a result public interest and support has been overwhelmingly positive.
“As a result, we have gained our Town Planning Permit for a facility of up to 112 beds.
“We are now in the process of finalising our Building Permit, and we have a commitment from the Federal Government for $3 million towards construction of Stage 1.
“We remain hopeful for a similar commitment from the State Government.”
The facility will have 34 beds in Stage 1, with the ability to expand to 58 beds with relative ease.
In Stage 2, family units, a children’s daycare centre, additional bedrooms and meeting rooms would be added.
The Centre is to be located 4.5km east of Bairnsdale, which is the geographic centre of Gippsland.
“It will serve the whole of the greater Gippsland area and all Gippsland shires have expressed their support for this project,” Mr Down said.
“Access for family and visitors will typically occur on weekends, meaning that travel from any part of Gippsland will be possible.”
Mr Down said the centre aims to integrate the program with other health, training, support and employment services right across Gippsland and it will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“We have already had a strong interest from people hoping to be employed in the new centre, including professionals and from those with their own lived experience of addiction and recovery.
“Odyssey has successfully established a program in another regional area, as well as in metropolitan Melbourne.
“It is typical for people to require multiple episodes of treatment before achieving sustainable recovery, and no single treatment program will provide all the answers to Gippsland’s drug and alcohol problems. “However, the Odyssey model has achieved success with thousands of people in the past, and is likely to make a difference to your neighbours, your family or friends, and your work colleagues or their children currently struggling to get help.
“This centre will provide hope to communities across Gippsland, and may be just the thing that helps turn their life around.
“People may require the ongoing support of local peer groups and their family to sustain the positive changes they make.
“If State Government funding were to be made available in the near future the Hope Restart Centre program could be up and running in the second half of 2018.
“We are not aware of any other proposals in Gippsland that are as far advanced as this one.
“There are many myths and much stigma attached to issues surrounding drug use and treatment, and we welcome the opportunity to discuss any issues or concerns directly with community members.”
For those who would like to help or find out more about the project, email Peter Down, chair, Hope Restart Centre Inc at mpdown35@gmail.com