The Western Regional Alcohol and Drug Centre (WRAD) is stepping up its campaign to get a residential rehabilitation centre in south-west Victoria for people with drug and alcohol problems.
WRAD is promoting its bid for a 20-25 bed centre where clients can stay for three months or longer. Residential treatment is seen as an important part of a continuum of services including early intervention, outpatient and day treatment to address clients individual needs.
WRAD is approaching government bodies and decision makers to lobby for the new centre and has formed a sub-committee comprising WRAD director Geoff Soma, management committee members Glenys Phillpot and Tracey Kol, former AFL player John Rantall of Noorat, Matt Stewart from the Standing Tall mentoring program, Warrnambool Cr Sue Cassidy and Dr Lynda Berends.
Mr Soma said WRAD treated more than 600 people for drug and alcohol problems in 2015-2016.
However, there are no residential rehabilitation beds in the south-west for people who have not been able to address their substance abuse through other longer treatment options.
While the number of people being treated had not risen greatly, WRAD is seeing more people using the high-impact drug ice, which is heavily related to crime.
“People’s behaviour is affected badly by their use of ice,” Mr Soma said. “People get addicted quickly.”
A common trend among people treated at WRAD for drug abuse was the use not only of ice but also a variety of other drugs such as alcohol which is still the most problematic drug along with cannabis, Mr Soma said.
Mr Soma said there were good reasons for a residential rehab centre in the region.
“Residential rehab makes good sense,” he said. “It is cost effective – less than half what it costs to keep someone in prison – and it results in reduced crime, increased employability and clients and its addresses key issues including mental health.”
Mr Soma said many people with abuse issues often had additional issues such as mental health problems.
The planned centre will provide 24-hour care that addresses clients’ drug dependence and help them develop skills to improve their life skills and employment options as well as focus on mental health issues.
WRAD estimates it would cost about $3,650,000 to establish the centre and between $1.2 million-$1.5 million each year to run it. It hopes to get funds in the 2018-2019 state and federal budgets, and funding will be sought from local philanthropic trusts and the community.

If the centre goes ahead, it will cover the entire Great South Coast region.

The partners will be the agencies involved in the Great South Coast Consortium which has WRAD as the lead agency. The other partners are Portland District Health, South West Healthcare, and Brophy Family and Youth Services.