Wangaratta’s Drug Rehab Centre

Local people are spearheading the development of Wangaratta’s new drug and alcohol residential rehabilitation service to make sure it meets the needs of its future residents and our community.

There has been a lot of support for this facility in Wangaratta and much lobbying behind the scenes. When it was finally announced in last year’s State budget, the Local Drug Action Team was rapt.

The thirty-bed rehab centre will be located at the former Ovens College site in Greta Road and will be run by a partnership between local community health service, Gateway Health, and alcohol and other drug treatment, training and support specialist, Odyssey House Victoria. Both have deep ties with our community.

Gateway Health has been delivering community and health services for a number of years. Odyssey House currently run the Circuit Breaker Residential Rehabilitation program near Benalla, and with the addition of the Wangaratta facility, both services are committed to ensuring we provide complementary services for residents across the Hume region.

Maryanne Donnellan, Program Manager AOD from Gateway Health:

We know that people with a serious addiction recover faster when they can access treatment in their community. Once built, our new Wangaratta residential rehabilitation facility will offer a safe, structured and therapeutic environment for people to address their alcohol and other drug issues.

It’ll be an alternative model with a longer duration than that at Molyullah. Here in Wangaratta, we’re creating a three to six-month program for people who’ve taken a tougher road. There’s plenty of research behind our approach, and we know that the average stay of about three months in this type of residential treatment is most effective.

Sure, it’s a health facility, but because addiction is about so much more than just drugs or alcohol, we’ll also be providing support to address other underlying factors. It’s called a therapeutic community model of treatment. Residents will learn about themselves, gain self-esteem, develop self-respect, learn about others, and foster mutuality and respect for others.

For residents, most of their day will be spent in group or individual therapy or working in the centre. Residential rehab is a good option for people who don’t have a stable home, or as a next step when other treatments have not been effective.

Plans are on track to start construction later this year, and the rehab facility is planned to be complete and ready to open doors to first residents in 2021.

We’re pretty confident that once it’s built, apart from some minor signage, the facility won’t stand out as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility. The building will have a professional and discrete look about it. It certainly won’t change the character of the neighbourhood, and in other locations in Victoria that have residential rehabilitation services, the operation of the facility has not been problematic, and residents can become actively engaged in the community.

It’s important to note that this will be a voluntary service. Its residents will be people who have to acknowledge their drug and alcohol dependency and who have decided to seek help. To be accepted into the program they will have completed withdrawal and no longer be using alcohol and drugs. They’ll be subject to regular screening to make sure this is happening.

The residential rehabilitation service will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If anyone has any concerns about the service, they will be able to call staff at any time.

Wangaratta’s rehab facility is funded by the Victorian Government. In the long run it’s a great deal for our community because for every dollar invested in services like these, there’s a huge saving down the track through reduced Police costs, fewer ambulance call outs and a decrease in hospital visits.


This story appeared in the Wangaratta Chronicle - we thank them for supporting our initiative.