Two Eurobodalla mum’s whose lives and families have been shaped by drug addiction have welcomed news that a drug and alcohol rehab centre is planned for Batemans Bay.
In the Morrison Government’s freshly minted budget, $9 million has been set aside for Mission Australia to develop a 10 bed, 12-week holistic rehabilitation program in the local area.
The three-year funding package is geared towards a program similar to that offered at Triple Care Farm in Robertson on the Southern Highlands.
Narooma’s Michelle Preston and Dalmeny’s Donna Falconer come from the school of ‘tough love treatment’ and will be holding education and support sessions this week for Eurobodalla families.
“The rehab centre is wonderful news, it’s important that we get to our young people early and get their lives back on track,” Donna says.
Having a range of treatment options and styles for people to access is important to these happy but sad ladies. The support group they formed is bringing a powerful speaker on drug and alcohol addiction to Moruya and Batemans Bay this Wednesday (April 3) and Thursday (April 4).
Peter Lyndon-James, a former West Australian of the Year, will share his raw experience working with addicts at Shalom House in Perth.
The subject of an Australian Story on ABC TV in 2017, Mr Lyndon-James is a former ice addict with a criminal history, he is said to run the strictest drug rehabilitation centre in the country.
“We’ve been following him for about three years now, his template for rehab is really strict but he gets the results, within a year he has an 80% success rate,” Donna says.
“People come out clean, with family relationships restored, fines paid off, with a job, somewhere to live and a car.
“He doesn’t take any bullshit.
“We are going to have a good talk to him about rolling out his style of rehab here.”
It’s the lived experience that Mr Lyndon-James comes with that seems to be where his strength and power comes from, the same could be said to Donna and Michelle.
The pair first met sitting on the courthouse steps at Narooma.
“Of the 16 people appearing in court that day, 13 were there for offences relating to Ice use,” Michelle told Region Media in April 2018.
“I’ve had ten years of this in my family and my son will never be the same again.
“Nothing I can do as a mum, and god knows I have tried, is going to stop him until he is ready.”
Donna’s story is similar but different and starts in 2014.
“My grandkids had just been taken into care, six police officers and two FACS (NSW Family and Community Services) workers had removed one of my grandchildren from school – how traumatising for a seven and a half-year-old.
“Mrs Falconer, we have your grandchildren here what would you like us to do? They said to me.”
At 54 years old, with her son in jail, and having already lost one young grandchild to drugs, Donna is now caring for three of her grandchildren, including a newborn.
“He was a little ice addict baby, there is nothing more horrific than watching a little baby come down off Ice,” Donna says.
Both Michelle and Donna are all too familiar with the shame, embarrassment, and isolation that comes with having an addict in the family, their support group “Ice – Turning Family Pain into Power” has become their bedrock and a safety net for others.
The two ‘Tough Love Seminars’ this week featuring Peter Lyndon-James are being supported by Hope House at Batemans Bay.
Donna says the whole community is invited, “We’d love to see the families and friends of substance abusers, support service workers, police, ambos, anyone that has dealings with addicts.”
“And we’ll have people there to help if addicts themselves turn up.”
The free ‘Tough Love Seminars’ will be held from 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm, Wednesday, April 3 at Batemans Bay Soldiers Club, and from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm on Thursday, April 4 at Moruya RSL Hall. Everyone is welcome.
With the NSW Election out of the way, Donna and Michelle are hoping to address the Berijiklian Government’s Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’.
“We will travel to Nowra and shout it loud,” Donna says.
This pair of determined mums, who live with Post Traumatic Stress are lobbying, Member for Bega Andrew Constance for a hearing in the Eurobodalla.
Meantime they continue to manage the impacts of Ice on their family’s. Michelle’s son is not well and homeless, bush camping mostly, “I feel like he is fading away, it’s hard yakker at the moment.”
Donna continues to care for her grandkids, “I am a soccer coach now for the under sevens,” Donna chuckles masking her sadness.
Peter Lyndon-James’ memoir is called ‘Tough Love’ and will be available at his Batemans Bay and Moruya seminars this week or online anytime.