Letter to the editor

May 18, 2018

Denise Crawford, Trish Bryant and Monsignor Peter Jeffrey gathered for The Cottage open day held in April.

Cottage vital to ease malaise in society

Monsignor Peter Jeffrey Parish Priest, Mooroopna, Chairman SHADAC Inc

Dear fellow residents,

There have been some misconceptions and concerns raised about The Cottage residential housing in St Andrews Rd, Shepparton, that I would like to address.

1. The Cottage is not a drug and alcohol rehab. It is a safe secure alcohol and drug free residence for people wanting to learn to live an empowered life.

2. SHADAC Inc that operates as The Cottage is a not-for-profit incorporated association registered by The Australian Charities and Not for profit Commission (ACNC). It is a sustainable charity without government funding.

3. The Cottage residences operate as a microcosm of a well-functioning family supporting each other. Operating since June 1, last year, now as three residences with five to eight residents per house, the residents have not caused any disturbance in that time and as they are alcohol and drug free it is unlikely that they will.

Should any neighbours in the area have any concern about the behaviour of any resident of The Cottage the board would appreciate being informed, so they may take appropriate action.

There are strict guidelines about entry into our residences.

Residents, men and women must be ‘‘in recovery’’, which means that they must totally abstain from all intoxicants and must demonstrate that they are willing to change thinking patterns by participating in future-based conversations and external training programs.

The people accepted into residence have to fulfil strict criteria including finding considerable financial support to cover all living expenses and external training participation.

The purpose of the Cottage is ‘‘We commit to building a transformational model, healing the challenges of disconnection.

‘‘We encourage self-leadership, empowering people to experience freedom from addiction.’’

The philanthropic families who have contributed time and money in providing the facilities have been very generous in their pursuit of the purpose of The Cottage.

I believe most residents in the Shepparton/Mooroopna area are naturally concerned by the number of people seen in our streets who are perhaps homeless or distressed and often causing harm to themselves and their families as a result of their addictions.

Sadly, this is a current malaise of our society that many would wish did not exist.

The Cottage has taken more than 65 people in since June last year with remarkable results of family reunification and societal reintegration being demonstrated.

You may have heard of the famous Cardinal Joseph Cardijn, founder of the Young Christian Workers Movement, with its SEE, JUDGE, and ACT approach to social issues.

It prompts awareness of social issues (SEE).

It then JUDGES them in the light of the Gospel, and finally, it ACTS to foster a better society.

That is precisely why I am so committed to the work of The Cottage.

My intent is also to alleviate any concern about the location of the intoxicant-free residence in St Andrews Rd.

I know that the owners of the properties have been exceptionally generous in making the properties suitable for the residents.

I am inspired by their largesse and commitment.

They are supporting people who have detoxed satisfactorily and are willing to strengthen their muscle in abstinence.

At our regular board meetings we ensure that those entering the residences meet the strict criteria for entry.

I was advised as board chairman that there were similar residential housing situations in White Horse and Knox City, and the basis on which these properties were to operate did not require a planning permit.

We are now informed by council that the crisis/shared accommodation exemption does not apply based on legal advice they received.

Therefore SHADAC Inc has applied for a planning permit as requested by council.

The board and I are committed to being socially responsible members of our community. We would be happy to meet with any members of the community onsite or at a suitable site to discuss any ongoing concerns that you may have.

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