Category: News

No funding for Lookout


The Lookout Rehabilitation Centre has again missed out on State Government funding. WRAD director Geoff Soma said the absence of funding in the State Budget for the Lookout was disappointing and upsetting on many levels.

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New mural arts splash of colour


WRAD’s fourth mural has added a vibrant splash of colour to our walls.

Melbourne-based artist Marco Pennacchia completed the stunning image of a southern right whale and her calf.

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Sliding Doors video


Check out our new video about the Sliding Doors non-residential rehab program

Watch the WRAD AGM livestream


WRAD patrons to deliver messages at AGM


WRAD patrons Uncle Archie Roach and Paul Jennings will deliver messages of hope at this year’s annual general meeting on Monday, November 22.

Mr Roach will provide a video message to the AGM and one of his songs will be played, while Mr Jennings will read one of the winning entries in this year’s WRAD short story competition.

The AGM will be livestreamed from 5.30pm on and YouTube at

Mr Jennings and Mr Roach were earlier this year announced as WRAD’s first patrons.

WRAD Director Geoff Soma said the patrons were helping to promote the organisation’s good work in the community.

“The AGM will celebrate a good year for WRAD across service delivery, quality improvement, partnerships and client engagements and outcomes,” Mr Soma said.

“Our staff continue to support the local community and clients and families with alcohol and other drug issues and those endeavours have been reinforced with the addition of our new patrons who will contribute to the AGM and share their messages of hope.”

Archie Roach, AM, was inducted in the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2020.  He was named as 2020 Victorian Australian of the Year and has been at the heart of Australian music for decades.  His songs go to the heart of people’s struggles and hopes and dreams.

Paul Jennings, AM, is a celebrated author who has written more than 100 stories and sold more than 10 million books.  He was awarded a Life Time Achievement Award from the Children’s Book Council of Australia.

Reflect RAP


WRAD is delighted to be able to participate in the reconciliation program as we seek to promote optimal enjoyment of life for people of all gender, age, race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, ability, cultural or language backgrounds. We acknowledge the importance of creating a safe and welcoming place for all members of our community.

The ‘Reflect’ RAP represents our commitment to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and to develop meaningful and connected partnerships to achieve this. Our plan identifies key strategies and actions designed to achieve these important goals. We could not achieve this without a lot of support from within the community and thank all those that have helped us to start on this journey towards reconciliation.

Booklet highlights roads to recovery


A new booklet published this week highlights the inspirational paths south-west people have taken to recover from addiction.

The booklet includes 10 entries from Western Region Alcohol and Drug Centre (WRAD)’s inaugural short story competition to showcase recovery from addiction, along with three profile stories of successful WRAD program participants.

WRAD Director Geoff Soma said the competition had exceeded all expectations.

“We were delighted with the response and the number of entries and quality of the stories,” Mr Soma said.

“The honesty and passion of the writers shone through, and these stories will provide encouragement for other people embarking on their own recovery story.”

Roads to Recovery: Inspiring Stories of Hope and Strength is now available at the WRAD Centre at 172 Merri Street and at Along with the competition entries, the booklet features three profile stories written by freelance journalist Rick Bayne.

Many of the stories relate first-hand experiences while others offer a fictional look at addiction.

The booklet has been sponsored by WDEA Works. CEO Tom Scarborough said WDEA Works was proud to support the WRAD Centre in printing Roads to Recovery and sharing the short stories of hope, recovery, struggle and triumph.

“It is our hope that the stories in this booklet reach those who need them and are kept in a place of pride by those who’s words and stories live within it,” Mr Scarborough said. “Thank you to the WRAD Centre for all you do for our community and to those who were brave enough to share their stories.” 

Judge Paul Jennings, who writes a foreword in the booklet, said the stories had been extremely moving.

“Judging was an incredibly difficult task because all the entries were fascinating and brave and also a good read,” Mr Jennings said.

The booklet features Shae Husson’s winning entry, Recovery. Ms Husson went from asking a friend for a few joints to help her sleep to an ice addiction before recovering.

She said sharing her story had been eye-opening and rewarding.

“Months on from winning the competition, I still get stopped in the street by people sharing their own experiences and accomplishments with recovery. It’s created a `safe space’ of sorts and I love that I was a part of it. I hope other people may read it and be inspired to start their own recovery.”

WRAD’s new patrons


One of Australia’s most best-known authors and most celebrated singers have come on board to promote the work of the Western Region Alcohol and Drug centre (WRAD).

Children’s author Paul Jennings and singer Uncle Archie Roach have agreed to become WRAD’s new patrons and ambassadors to spread a message of hope for clients and families with complex alcohol and other drug problems.

Mr Jennings and Mr Roach will be involved in activities and promotions to highlight the effective treatment services offered by WRAD.

Archie Roach, AM, was inducted in the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2020.  He was named as 2020 Victorian Australian of the Year and has been at the heart of Australian music for decades.  His songs go to the heart of people’s struggles and hopes and dreams.

“Archie he will be a worthy ambassador for the work that WRAD delivers to clients in south-west Victoria,” WRAD Director Geoff Soma said.

Paul Jennings, AM, is a celebrated author who has written more than 100 stories and sold more than 10 million books.  He was awarded a Life Time Achievement Award from the Children’s Book Council of Australia.

“Paul is passionate about recovery and providing hope for people whose lives are affected by alcohol and other drugs and mental health,” Mr Soma said.

Mr Jennings, who judged WRAD’s Stories of Recovery writing competition earlier this year, said he felt incredibly honoured to be invited to stand with the staff and supporters of WRAD as a patron.

“Most families in our society have been afflicted in some way by the scourge of addiction,” Mr Jennings said. “The Covid crisis has made their problems even worse. The need for a residential recovery facility in Warrnambool is absolutely essential. I heartily endorse the efforts being made to establish one and encourage everyone to support this wonderful work.”

Mr Roach said he was proud to be a patron of WRAD. “Recovering from alcoholism is part of my story,” he said. “It’s so important for people with alcohol and drug problems to have a service like WRAD that they can access for help. Rehab, as well as my music, saved my life.”

Mr Soma said WRAD looked forward to having Archie and Paul as WRAD patrons and being involved in activities and promotions to highlight the important work of providing treatment for clients and their families.

“Archie and Paul are testament to what hard work and commitment and passion can achieve and both are role models in the communities that they live and work in,” he said.

Archie Roach photo by Phil Nitchie

Alcohol No.1 cause for concern


Alcohol is the number one substance use issue for people in south-west Victoria, and the percentage of people experiencing problems is growing.

New figures released by the Western Region Alcohol and Drug Centre (WRAD) show that alcohol is now the primary substance of concern for 50 per cent of clients.

That percentage has gradually increased during 2021 as the pandemic continues to cause concern.

WRAD operations manager Mark Powell said the local figures reflected the broader national situation.

In January, 42 per cent of WRAD clients presented with alcohol as their primary substance of concern. In February that figure grew to 46 per cent, March 48 per cent, April 45 per cent and in May and June it was 50 per cent.

The south-west Victorian figures follow the release of the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services in Australia annual report 2019-20 that shows 139,300 Australians aged 10 and over received treatment for alcohol or other drug use. Nationally, alcohol made up 34 per cent of all treatment episodes, followed by amphetamines 28 per cent and cannabis 18 per cent.

Amphetamines and cannabis are also the second and third most prevalent causes of presentations to WRAD.

However, Mr Powell said there was a silver lining as there is a path to recovery for people facing substance use issues.

“We have very good research in what helps and WRAD has a lot of expertise and experience in helping people who have alcohol use issues,” he said.

“Since COVID, WRAD has become more proficient in using telehealth options to support people who are unable to attend face to face.”

WRAD has also increased services to the Corangamite and Moyne areas with additional funding from the State government under the Alcohol and Other Drugs COVID-19 Workforce Initiative.

The national figures show alcohol was the most common principal drug of concern in older age groups: almost 3 in 5 clients (58%) aged 50–59, and over 7 in 10 clients (74%) aged 60 and over received treatment for alcohol. The majority of clients receiving alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment services were male (64%), and this was the same for those receiving treatment for alcohol use (65% male).

At WRAD, 22 per cent of clients are aged over 50.

Mr Powell said research showed that people often don’t seek help for substance use disorders until the long-term impacts become more severe. “We also know that the earlier someone seeks help for a substance use issue the better their outcomes are in so many areas of life, not just physical health.”

Anyone curious about their level of substance use or want to know more about the programs that WRAD offers can call 1300 00 9723 and ask to speak with a clinician or visit


Need After Hours Help?

Emergency call 000
For medical issues call South West Healthcare 55 631666
For mental health issues call SWH emergency dep't 55 631 666 or 1800 808 284
For drug and alcohol issues call Directline 1800 888 236
For Lifeline call 13 11 14
Or click on the links below for help.