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Earthworks are now underway for a new residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre to be built at Lucknow, east of Bairnsdale.

Heavy machinery has been working at the site of the Hope Restart Centre, preparing an access road, storm water retention dam and consolidating the area for the main building.   Fencing has been erected and the slab has been poured so construction of a shed can begin this week.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester, who secured $3 million to build the centre, gave a progress report in Federal Parliament and commended the local community for achieving the funding required to open its doors.

“The centre is expected to receive its first clients in the second half of the next year,” Mr Chester said.

“We’ll be working with people from across the Gippsland electorate, throughout East Gippsland the Latrobe Valley.  The facility will be operated by Odyssey Victoria, a well-known provider of drug rehabilitation services.

“Progress on this much-needed facility has come about through the vision, hard work, determination and the commitment of several community leaders and volunteers led by Peter and Margaret Down.”

Mr Chester took the opportunity in Federal Parliament to recognise the businesses that have made Hope Restart Centre a reality.

“I’m very proud to say that my community in East Gippsland, particularly around Bairnsdale, has taken action it its own right,” Mr Chester said.

“It’s a great example of the community recognising a problem … and then getting on with the job of addressing what is a significant issue right throughout the region.”

Mr Chester said the quickest way to start saving lives and reducing harm from illicit drugs in Gippsland was to get the Hope Centre built and its doors open.

Hope Restart Centre management board chairman Peter Down said work on the main building was due to begin early next year.

“We are on-track to start construction of the initial stage in February and plan to have it completed in July, ready to open doors to first residents in August,” Mr Down said.

“This stage is now fully-funded. It’s been a huge community effort and we have been overwhelmed by the generosity of locals and businesses, including in-kind donations from local industry professionals.

“The Hope Restart Centre is always looking for additional funding which will add value and enhance the project.  Sporting facilities are high on the list of requirements.”

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