Western Victorian philanthropist Geoff Handbury has paid tribute to the Western Region Alcohol and Drug Centre (WRAD) during its renaming in his honour.
Dr Handbury said WRAD was one of the organisations he supported that remained close to his heart.
“Without an organisation like WRAD we’d have a lot more problems,” he said.
The centre at 172 Merri Street in Warrnambool was re-launched today as the Handbury Medical Suites, named in honour of Dr Geoff Handbury, AO PhD (h.c).
Dr Handbury is WRAD’s most charitable benefactor and one of Western Victoria’s most generous philanthropists. He has donated $700,000 to WRAD over the past seven years.
He said it was a privilege to be involved with WRAD and that the community would face more problems if such organisations didn’t exist.
“WRAD is one of the most worthwhile things that I’m involved in,” Dr Handbury said. “It’s been great to work with Director Geoff Soma and I think the expansion into the medical suites will be great assistance to further the wonderful work you already do,” he said.
Dr Handbury admitted members of his broader family had not escaped the problem of addiction and he urged people to support those facing addictions.
“One thing we can do is to keep loving them. They have to still feel wanted,” he said.
Dr Handbury added that while there was a lot of publicity about the impact of various drugs, the harm caused by alcohol was often overlooked.
“There’s not enough publicity about the dangers of alcohol. It’s all about other drugs but we have to warn the younger generation that alcohol does cause terrible problems,” he said.
WRAD is being renamed to honour Dr Handbury and to reflect its growing range of medical services.
Director Geoff Soma said it was fitting that the centre recognised the tremendous support of Dr Handbury. “The support of Geoff Handbury has been greatly appreciated and has been instrumental in helping WRAD to develop its medical services,” he said.
The renaming reflects the development of general practice services from the centre. The Handbury Medical Suites are also home to psychology and drug and alcohol intake and assessment services and WRAD counselling and care recovery and coordination services.
The centre will now be known as the Handbury Medical Suites incorporating WRAD services, psychology services and Australian Community Support Organisation (ACSO) services. It will soon have four GPs providing bulk billing services for the general community.
The Geoff and Helen Handbury Foundation has left its positive stamp on countless community organisations and worthwhile causes across the region. These include funding for a wing of Western District Health Service hospital in Hamilton, seed funding for the National Centre for Farmer Health, and numerous sport and art donations to the community.
Mrs Handbury died in 2004. In 1999 both Geoff and Helen received Order of Australia medals for services to regional communities.