Home' South Gippsland Sentinel-Times : November 21 2017 Contents THE SOUTH GIPPSLAND SENTINEL-TIMES, TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2017 - PAGE 5
PHILLIP Island has been left with-
out a drug and alcohol rehabilitation
centre that would process up to 58
patients at any one time.
The development, proposed for the
old Warley Hospital site, was voted
down 5-4 on Wednesday night by
The proposal had the tick of ap-
proval by council officers and would
have assisted those with anxiety, de-
pression, post-traumatic stress dis-
order, alcohol dependency and drug
While the application by the Hader
Group received six objections, Cr
Fullarton said it had been a “conten-
tious” issue on Phillip Island.
“It’s looked as a dependency prob-
lem, for me it’s a health problem, a
community health problem and it’s
an issue which we have to address,”
Cr Fullarton said.
Speaking to health professionals,
he said the majority wanted to see
the rehabilitation centre approved.
The Island Ward councillor added
he would have been the first to object
if it posed a risk to the community.
Labelling the old Warley Hospital a
“derelict” site in a state of “disrepair”,
he said there had been no offers to
purchase the building.
Cr Larke backed the comments by
his colleague and in speaking as a
seconder to the motion, emphasised
the distinction between acute and
The rehabilitation centre would be
classified as non-acute.
“An acute facility is somewhere you
go to detox or you’re an ice addict
and you’re out of control.
“Non-acute is the follow-up to the
original work that’s done with the
patient to get strategies and tactics
together to manage a proactive life, a
He said there was an opportunity
for Bass Coast residents to take ad-
vantage of the facility.
Most of the comments to follow
speaking against the proposal fo-
cussed around the rehabilitation cen-
tre being in the middle of a popular
Deputy Mayor Cr Brett Tessari
slammed the proposal and couldn’t
believe council were even considering
the rehabilitation centre.
He said more than one million peo-
ple visit Phillip Island annually.
“And we’re looking at putting a
drug centre just off the main street
“There’s no doubt that these facili-
ties are needed and they’re needed
throughout Australia, but right in
the heart of our tourist centre, I don’t
think we need to be facilitating this
sort of thing.”
Acknowledging it was a derelict
building, Cr Tessari said it would re-
strict the site’s future use.
At the rehabilitation centre, it
would have cost $288 per night or
$2016 per week, per patient.
The fees are not covered by the
public health care system, but for
some with specialist private health
care, it can be fully covered.
Cr Michael Whelan maintained he
wasn’t against the facility, just its lo-
He said the plans for the GP service
hadn’t been “spelled out” whether it
would be 24/7 or if bulk-billing would
At a public meeting earlier this year,
Hader Group general manager Jack-
son Oppy said the rehabilitation cen-
tre was going to make a minimum of
two bulk-billing GPs available to the
public, seven days a week, until late.
He also said they only accept peo-
ple who genuinely want to get better.
Cr Whelan said it was “nonsense”
that council officers couldn’t consid-
er the changes to the Cowes Activity
Centre Plan that council decided to
prepare at an August meeting.
Included in the changes was a De-
velopment Plan Overlay for the old
“That is crazy. We’ve gone to ex-
tensive consultation, extensive work
to develop these papers,” Cr Whelan
“The agenda paper argues that the
planning scheme says that this is an
area identified for medical and hospi-
“It’s that far out of date the Cowes
Activity Centre Plan states that in fact
the health facility will be moving from
that area and that it will lose that
designation and in fact it will move to
the centre of town, something that’s
already occurring,” he said in refer-
ence to the construction of the Phillip
Island Health and Medical Hub.
Cr Geoff Ellis said there was a need
for the facility, but it would be better
suited in a rural area.
“I’m not basing this on a ‘not in
my backyard’ idea because I live in
Krowera and they tried to establish a
place in Loch along these lines and I
wish they would have kept going with
Cr Julian Brown said council regu-
larly hears Phillip Island wants more
medical facilities. He added there
would be “significant” employment
opportunities once it’s built.
The centre would have needed a
workforce of up to 40 people.
In ending discussions, Cr Fullarton
said the community was “crying out”
for a facility like the one proposed.
While Mayor Cr Pamela Rothfield
didn’t speak to the motion, she voted
After the motion was lost, Cr Whel-
an successfully passed an amend-
ment which refused the application
because of the “undue detrimental
impact” on the amenity of the area,
amongst other reasons.
BASS Coast’s 2016 Young Citizen of the Year
Rebecca Slavin has responded to Bass Coast
Shire Council’s rejection of a planning pro -
posal for a 58-bed drug rehabilitation centre
at Cowes, calling the decision last week “very
disappointing” and “upsetting”.
“Our community needs to wake up and see
there is an issue and it’s serious. It’s people’s
lives,” says Rebecca, an Inverloch resident with
first-hand experience of drug addiction and re-
“People will die from addiction because of a
lack of support services,” she says. “They’re dy-
ing right now. And it’s about time we wake up
and be there to help.”
A 15-month stay in a Western Australian facil-
ity helped Rebecca overcome a four-year addic-
tion to the drug ice, and since completing treat-
ment in 2015, she’s been a passionate advocate
for improving services closer to home.
“Health services on the Island are really
poor,” she says. “Things need to be moving for-
ward and growing.
“When an addict asks for help, they need that
help straight away. In my case, I was very sui-
cidal. But I couldn’t find a rehab in the local
area, and there was over a year wait to get in in
Rebecca receives regular invitations to share
her story with school and community groups,
and says people struggling with addiction con-
tact her on a daily basis.
“I receive messages all the time from parents
and families who don’t know where to go for
help. And I don’t know where to send them. A
lot of people can’t afford to travel like I did.
“Every time I speak at a school, I hear about
students who’ve been affected by drug abuse,
whether it’s the students themselves or some-
one close to them.
“There’s no doubt about it, the need’s there.
And if it were any other illness, the care would
be there too.”
Rebecca puts community opposition to the
proposed Cowes facility down to fear of the un-
known and lack of understanding.
“Drugs have a bad stigma but people can fall
into addiction for all sorts of reasons,” she says.
“[Addicts are] people’s kids, brothers, sis-
ters... They make a bad decision and get stuck.
It [using drugs] is a choice but it’s really hard
to get out of.
“I was 17, I was in a vulnerable state at a
party, drinking, and I was offered ice and I said
yes. And then I was stuck in addiction for four
She says having a safe place that helps people
get free from drugs would only benefit the com-
“These centres are actually life transforma-
tion centres. They provide the support for
people to be guided back to the life they were
meant to have.
“People say things like ‘we don’t want drug
addicts in our town’ but we can’t deny they’re
already there. There are already people doing
“The people that would be in that facility
would be there because they want help. They’re
not going to be running amok committing
crimes. The people I met in rehab are some of
the nicest, most beautiful people I’ve ever met.
They’re just people that are hurting because
they’ve made a bad choice.”
Rebecca says the rehab centre that helped her
turn her life around - Teen Challenge at Esper-
ance - faced similar opposition before it first
opened, but that over time, the community has
“The community didn’t want it [the centre].
But while I was there we actually did a lot of
work in the community, and now it’s a really
positive relationship. If certain people want
nothing to do with it, then they have nothing to
do with it. But at least the people that want to
help are able to help.”
If you or someone you know is experienc-
ing difficulties, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14
or go to www.beyondblue.org.au
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Inverloch resident and Bass Coast’s 2016
Young Citizen of the Year Rebecca Slavin has
first-hand experience of drug addiction and
rehabilitation, and says rehab facilities are
“desperately” needed in Bass Coast.
Bass Coast ‘needs to wake up’ to drug problem
Island rehab centre canned
Plans to turn the old Warley Hospital (outlined in red) into a drug
and alcohol rehabilitation centre were knocked back by council on
Cr Michael Whelan wasn’t keen
on the rehabilitation centre’s pro-
posed site at the old Warley Hospi-
tal, stressing he wasn’t against the
facility – just its location. He said it
would “tie up” any valuable devel-
opment proposed for the site in the
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