The News introduced the Shepparton community to drug rehabilitation facility The Cottage in mid-2017.
The facility had been established eight months after a public meeting chaired by Monsignor Peter Jeffrey in March, 2016, when 350 concerned citizens came together with the aim to do something about the drug/alcohol problem in the region.
The model saw two separate residential houses become available for men and women, welcoming clients who were willing to go to any lengths to transform their lives and become free from addiction.
With the land being purchased by local business-people and leased to The Cottage, there has been little to no opposition expressed by residents of the area. Last year The News reported on non-profit organisation ACSO engaging in a legal battle with Moira Shire Council about its proposed Brookfield rehabilitation centre.
The council’s decision to block the proposal was taken to VCAT and ultimately the tribunal voted in favour but there is still a long road ahead for the facility to get off the ground.
But during the same time, with little noise or opposition, The Cottage began its operation — now having had 50 clients pass through the program.
Program participant Tye Atkinson said one of its major benefits was the fact participants were counselled by those who had suffered from addiction in some way themselves.
It is clear the participants can relate to those who are trying to help them and this model has had incredibly positive results.
Another benefit of the program is the fact both men and women participate and live close to one another which has also seen attitudes towards gender change for the better among some clients.
With the construction of a third facility on the block in St Andrews Rd, Shepparton, The Cottage will soon be able to take its capacity to 23 beds in total.
The Cottage is opening its doors to support services and the public this month and it is a brave thing for a drug and alcohol facility to do. But it is clear it is focused on promoting conversations within the community and reducing the stigma attached to drug addiction, and its decision to open its doors will make incredible inroads towards achieving this.