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The Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has welcomed news a local builder will construct the first stage of a residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre near Bairnsdale.

Mr Chester, who secured $3 million of Federal Government money to build the centre, said he was pleased Brooker Builders, an award-winning firm in Bairnsdale, had won the tender for stage one of the Hope Restart Centre at Lucknow.

“The Hope Centre is a great local project that is going to save lives in our community,” Mr Chester said.

“I’m pleased the Hope Restart board has appointed a local builder, Bairnsdale’s Brooker Builders, to get the job done.

“I think it is important to involve local businesses and other organisations in this project wherever possible. While the Hope Centre is there for those who desperately seeking professional help for addiction, it will also be able to help support local jobs and businesses.”

Construction is expected to begin next month. The centre is due to receive its first clients in the second half of this year and will be operated by Odyssey House Victoria.

An access road, large shed and a storm water retention dam have been built on the 20 acre site near the Princes Highway.

Mr Chester said progress on this much-needed facility was testament to the hard work and commitment of local community volunteers.

“The Hope Centre board, including Peter and Marg Down, and the many others who have given their time, expertise or money to support this project have brought this ambitious project to fruition, driven simply by their desire to help others and make a positive difference in our community,” Mr Chester said.

“Many people in Gippsland would have a friend, family member, or know someone who has been impacted by drug and alcohol addiction.

“The quickest way to start saving lives and reducing harm from illicit drugs in Gippsland is to get the Hope Centre built and its doors open.”

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