July 6, 2021
WRAD has lost one of the driving forces behind its formation.
In the 1980s John McGrath was a foundation member of the Western Regional Association for Drug and Alcohol Dependence, which would later become the Western Regional Alcohol and Drug Centre (WRAD). He went on to become one of the longest serving WRAD committee members and was chairman from 1986 to 2000.
WRAD Committee of Management Chair Helen Taylor says John was always a committed community and family man.
“Within his parliamentary career, John always found time for local issues.
He had a deep understanding of community needs and listened to people’s stories and wanted to help people suffering from addiction illnesses.
“John was at the forefront in the establishment and growth of WRAD from its inception. He became the Chairperson of the WRAD Committee of Management and was a strong advocate.
“As Chairperson he operated a positive and constructive board. His desire was to begin and grow meaningful programs for addiction recovery and support.
“After his retirement, John moved to South Australia and remained in touch with WRAD. He continued to receive the WRAD newsletter and was a strong supporter of the Look Out Residential Rehabilitation plan.
“John had been unwell for some time but he continued to be proactive on many community issues. His wisdom and expertise will be greatly missed.
Our condolences go out to his family.”
In 2011, John reflected on his connection with WRAD fo0r a booklet commemorating the organisation’s 25th anniversary.
The following is an extract from the booklet:
Former Warrnambool MLA John McGrath clearly recalled the significance of the day he took a friend to Melbourne to attend an alcohol and drug detoxification program. John collected the man about 5am and then dropped
him at the rehabilitation centre in the north-eastern suburbs.
At the time John was still a tyre dealer and had yet to enter the world of politics. He went off for his day of meetings with others in the tyre industry before driving home only to find the man sitting in his lounge room back in Warrnambool. “He had escaped and caught the train to come home to Warrnambool. He just couldn’t face up to being away in Melbourne doing this program,” John recalled. That was the day that John realised Warrnambool needed to have its own drug and alcohol service.
John had been through his own experiences with a drinking problem and had found help.
Now he was determined to help others. He was involved in the Warrnambool Drug Education Committee and soon became a foundation member of the Western Regional Association for Drug and Alcohol Dependence, which would later become the Western Regional Alcohol and Drug Centre (WRAD). “I had been interested in alcohol
counselling and had a longstanding interest in supporting people with alcohol and drug problems so I became involved,” John said. He went on to become one of the longest serving WRAD committee members and served as chairman from 1986 to 2000. He remained with WRAD after becoming the State Member for Warrnambool for the National Party in 1985, a position he held until retiring in 1999. “I had to leave some boards but WRAD was totally voluntary so there was no conflict. I stayed on the Board until 2000 when we
moved to Melbourne. I stayed because I fiercely believed in WRAD and what it does…I still do.” John remains in contact with WRAD leaders and was actively involved in the fund-raising campaign for establishing the WRAD Centre in Merri Street.
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The WRAD Centre’s vision is to advance the health and wellbeing of those in the South Western Region of Victoria affected by Addictive behaviours and to promote optimal enjoyment of life.
The WRAD Centre seeks to provide comprehensive, holistic support and treatment to individuals and others affected by addictive behaviors and associated issues.
The philosophy of harm minimisation underpins the delivery of all programs offered by WRAD. This principle recognises that people in our society use both licit and illicit drugs, and that drugs can be used in ways that are more or less harmful to individuals, families and society. Harm minimisation offers a number of options designed to reduce the harm of drug use to the user and society.
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