Interview with Dr Stefan Gruenert - Odyssey HouseDecember 6th 2019
00:00 / 09:11

Articles courtesy of the Warrnambool Standard.


November 27



Director Geoff Soma said that although the Lookout Residential Rehabilitation Centre was not included in this State Budget, WRAD remained confident the project would go ahead.

"We acknowledge the ongoing discussions with the Department on this important project and we are hopeful of ongoing support from the Government," Mr Soma said.

"We also acknowledge the terrific ongoing support of the local community who have committed their passion and their donations to making this project become a reality."




APRIL 2, 2020

A VCAT decision to amend prescribed staffing levels for the Lookout Residential Rehabilitation Centre has been welcomed by the WRAD Committee of Management.

A VCAT hearing on February 25-26 was told that the prescribed staffing levels far exceeded similar residential rehabilitation centres across Victoria.

The amended staffing levels for the Lookout will provide clinical oversight and are in line with the tried and proven therapeutic community model of treatment.

WRAD’s appeal against the condition was supported by Warrnambool City Council and WRAD will now work hard to bring this important project to fruition.

“The need for this service has been well established and this decision will support clients and families who are adversely affected by alcohol and other drug problems,” WRAD Director Geoff Soma said.

“The WRAD Committee takes this opportunity to acknowledge the significant general community support for this project,” Mr Soma said.

“An overwhelming number of community organisations, service clubs as well as philanthropic trusts have got behind the Lookout and their support is appreciated"

“Our local addiction issue is a community problem and requires a community response.

"Together, the community and WRAD will forge relationships that will benefit all local residents, the facility and lead to a better outcome for us all.”

WRAD will now work with the Department of Health and Human Services and look at ways to fund the completion of this important project.

FEBRUARY 27, 2020


A VCAT hearing into WRAD’s application to amend prescribed staffing levels for the Lookout Residential Rehabilitation Centre was held in Melbourne on February 25-26.

WRAD Director Geoff Soma said he was pleased with the hearing and he believed WRAD had presented a very sound case.

Warrnambool City Council supported WRAD’s position in this case.

VCAT is expected to announce its decision in about two months.

VCAT had previously approved WRAD’s application for the Lookout Rehabilitation Centre but WRAD believed its decision to prescribe staffing numbers had an unintended consequence and would make the project unviable.



SEPTEMBER 13, 2019

WRAD is seeking to have a condition imposed on The Lookout Residential Rehabilitation Centre amended.
Centre director Geoff Soma said the condition it was contesting with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal related to required staff numbers at the facility.
"The staff numbers prescribed by the condition are vastly different to similar-sized residential rehabilitation centres operating safely and effectively across Victoria," Mr Soma said.
"Because of this difference WRAD has decided to make an application under Section 87A of the Planning and Environment Act to amend this condition to reduce the required staff numbers to a level more commensurate with similar facilities."
Mr Soma said the goal to operate the residential rehabilitation centre was very much alive and the facility had considerable support from the community.
"WRAD will continue to progress this project over the next 12 months," he said.
"As part of this process WRAD will continue to seek support from the broader community."
VCAT recently granted a planning permit for the facility to be located and operated at 43 Atkinsons Lane in Dennington.
It announced its decision in August.
VCAT's report said it acknowledged there would be different opinions about what represented a net community benefit.
"We consider that on balance, there is such a benefit in approving a residential alcohol and drug rehabilitation centre on the review site," the report said.
Objectors had concerns about safety and security for community groups and Dennington residents which were raised at the hearing.
Warrnambool City councillors voted against the proposal 4-2 in April.
The Lookout is a 20-bed medical facility which will assist people recovering from health issues related to drug and alcohol use.


August 15, 2019

WRAD is delighted with the decision of VCAT to grant a permit for the Lookout Residential Rehabilitation Centre.

WRAD can now make the centre a reality for clients and their families in the Great South Coast.

“WRAD is dedicated to making this project work efficiently and effectively to provide a quality service for clients experiencing significant alcohol and other drug problems in their local community,” Director Geoff Soma said.

“The planning approval process has been difficult for all involved, but WRAD believes The Lookout remains a much-needed service for our community.

“Our site selection of Atkinson's Lane was subjected to forensic examination during the VCAT process. We are convinced the site is suitable and are pleased that the independent VCAT system has given it the tick of approval. Our community needs a locally-based residential rehabilitation facility. We now have a community response to a community problem.”

Mr Soma said the money already donated to establishing the Lookout is secure, untouched by the VCAT and planning process. “WRAD was able to fund the planning permit process using consolidated funds with some amazing support from Taits Legal, Myers Planning Group, O2 media our local media the Standard and Ace Radio who have kept the community connected with this project.”

“Moving forward, WRAD will work with the community to make the Lookout a reality and to make a difference to the lives of clients and families struggling with addiction.

“We understand that there is rarely change without controversy and we will work through any issues that arise.”

WRAD intends to form a community consultation committee to be the conduit between the community and the service providers.

Updates on the development of the Lookout project will be posted on the WRAD website and

“WRAD would like to thank the local community and philanthropic trusts and the many organisations that have supported the Lookout project to date,” Mr Soma added.