Resort for change

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By Brooke Haffenden

COMMUNITY reactions have been mixed following the announcement that a planning permit application has been lodged to transform Trawool Valley Resort into a Respite and Recovery Centre.

The application before council by EACH Social and Community Health proposes to use the facility as a voluntary residential program for men and women with drug and alcohol problems who have already participated in the rehabilitation process.

The permit before council seeks to accommodate a maximum of 40 clients in a 24-hour staffed home. Initially, the facility will house 20 clients and work up to 40 clients over two years.

The programs run between three to four months depending on the personal circumstances of the client.

The application, which was lodged in late 2017, is open to public consultation until Friday, April 6.

The Seymour We Want group posted an announcement on its Facebook page last week, only to be met with mixed reactions from the community.

Many residents such as Elyse Perry were “outraged” with a Respite and Recovery Centre adjoining properties where children reside.

“The community need to look at the bigger picture here, it’s not just a rehab centre; it adjoins properties in which children reside, its location is too close to a town that already has a drug problem,” Ms Perry said.

Other community members such as Natasha Monaghan supported the application and said they hoped the facility will make more of a “positive change”.

The North Central Review can also reveal that Trawool has been targeted over the application, with one man defacing property and attending at the resort, yelling at diners and causing a disturbance.

CEO of EACH Peter Ruzyla told the North Central Review that EACH has provided an integrated range of health, disability, counselling, community mental health and social housing services across eastern Australia for more than 40 years.

Mr Ruzyla explained the ‘Resi Rehab’ is for people who are clean and fully detoxed, and need some time to get their lives back on track.

“We see this as a really important opportunity for people to turn their life around,” he said.
“Being in a rural environment is definitely regarded as therapeutic. The combination of therapy, meaningful occupation and social support, as we provide in other such settings, produces life-changing results.”

Addressing the community’s concerns, Mr Ruzyla said EACH is “not naïve” and is “very vigilant” in managing adherence to the rules, including a one strike policy.

“We need to remember also that people with addictions come from all walks of life and from metropolitan and rural areas – no-one and no family is immune,” Mr Ruzyla said.

“I hope that the local community will be generous and open minded about the needs for such a facility (since Victoria has the lowest number of beds per population) and recognise that these are well managed and do not pose a threat; in fact, they are more likely to become a community asset as they become known as a centre for recovery.”

Mitchell Shire Council Acting CEO Mary Agostino said council will consider the application and “make a decision based on its planning merits”.

For more information on how to make a submission to council regarding the application visit the Mitchell Shire website.