The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says State Government funding for a 30-bed residential drug rehabilitation treatment facility for Gippsland should go to the Hope Restart Centre near Bairnsdale.
Gippsland was one of three regions named in yesterday’s State Budget to share a total of $40.6 million for new treatment facilities to reduce waiting times and help more people recover from addiction.
Mr Chester, who secured $3 million in Federal Government funding for the $7.5 million Hope Restart Centre, said the State Government money should go to the Lucknow centre, which is ready to begin construction and would be operated by Odyssey House Victoria.
“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 to those in need,” Mr Chester said.
“Most people in Gippsland would have a friend, family member, or know someone who has been impacted by drug and alcohol addiction.
“People want all levels of government to take action. By working in a bi-partisan manner, we can address the increasing problems being seen in our communities as a result of drug and alcohol addictions.
“The Hope Centre already has Federal Government funding and planning and building approval from East Gippsland Shire Council. The centre could receive its first clients within 12 months with support from the State Government.
“Like many Gippslanders, I hope we can all work together to work to meet the desperate need in our region, including the Latrobe Valley, for residential rehabilitation beds.”
Mr Chester said progress on this much-needed facility was testament to the hard work and commitment of the community volunteers from Bairnsdale who were behind the Hope Centre.
“Bairnsdale is the ideal location for a facility of this type, as it is centrally located in Gippsland and has strong health, education and service sectors that can work with the centre. The rural environment will help clients to recover and re-group before reconnecting with the community,” Mr Chester said.
The Hope Restart Centre will be built on 20 acres of land near the Princes Highway at Lucknow.