Mr CHESTER (Gippsland) (13:50): All of us have been touched by the scourge of ice and other illicit substances and the impact they have had on our communities. I think the regional members of parliament, in particular, are well aware of the shortage of rehabilitation facilities and the lack of available beds when people are ready to seek help. Today I want to pay tribute to my community, the Bairnsdale and district community, and a couple, Peter and Margaret Down, who have worked to establish a community group and have developed a plan to build the Hope Restart Centre for rehabilitation in Bairnsdale. This is a grassroots community group, and they have made some major steps forward. They have secured land for the site and a planning permit, and now they have a building permit to get work underway to build a rehabilitation facility which would service not just East Gippsland, but the broader Gippsland region.
I’m pleased to announce that the federal government has come on board with a $3 million commitment to the project. Now we are seeking at least matching funds from the state government and philanthropic sources. I understand my colleague Tim Bull, the member for Gippsland East, has been having discussions with the state minister responsible, along with some discussions with potential philanthropic organisations. I appeal to the state government and people interested in helping young people, in particular, get over their addiction to illicit substances to consider helping fund this grassroots community group in their efforts to develop a project which I think will make an enormous difference and will save lives in my community.