South-west residents are divided about the proposed The Lookout residential rehabilitation facility.
Some Dennington residents are opposed to the 20-bed facility operating from an Atkinsons Lane site, while others have thrown their support behind the proposal Dennington residents raised their concerns about safety, security, amenities and services at a public forum on Thursday evening at the Emmanuel Centre.
They said they were distressed and worried about the facility and what may happen in the town if the proposed plan goes ahead.
Odyssey House chief executive officer Dr Stefan Gruenert explained to the concerned residents that when the organisation’s Lower Plenty and Benalla residential rehabilitation facilities were established there had been strong opposition from the community.
He said the communities of both areas now supported the facilities, and engaged with residents, including at Christmas time. Dr Gruenert said the original Odyssey House at Lower Plenty had been operating for 40 years, and the Benalla site had been open for 12.
The Lookout steering committee upped the planned number of overnight staff members from one to two amid resident’s safety concerns for the 20-bed facility.
People coming into The Lookout facility will be drug-free on admission, usually following a structured detoxification program. Previous drug history, motivation and a range of risk related screens are required before admission to the program.
A structured program will be available to assist clients to overcome emotional, psychological and issues associated with problematic alcohol and other drug use.
Dr Gruenert said Odyssey House had 140 residents, and there was only one staff member who worked overnight. He said there had been no issues, and noted in its 40-year history police had never been called to the site.
Readers took to The Standard’s Facebook page, saying it was a much-needed facility. Bronwyn Moore asked if it mattered where the facility was. “As long as there’s a service to those in need,” she said. “You don’t always know who your neighbour is and what their problems are. Do you tell them to move? No.”
Rae Currie said: “The problem is already in our backyard, the help for it needs to be in our backyard also.”
Article courtesy of the Warrnambool Standard. Saturday June 22nd 2018