Smeaton slams rehab

FACING OPPOSITION: Stuart Fenton is hoping to build a drug and alcohol rehabilition centre in Smeaton. Picture: Kate Healy
FACING OPPOSITION: Stuart Fenton is hoping to build a drug and alcohol rehabilition centre in Smeaton. Picture: Kate Healy

An application to build a drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic in Smeaton has faced intense backlash from the local community.

The Meadows Therapeutic Community (TC) was originally set to open at the beginning of 2016, however local objections from the community have left a question mark hanging over the start date for the project.

At least 10 objections have been made against the application which was lodged with the Hepburn Shire Council at the beginning of the year. Co-founder of Meadows TC Stuart Fenton said they had not expected the objections from the community.

“We are working with council to try and finalise these practical concerns,” he said. 

Unlike some other rehabilitation clinics, TC’s only deal with clients who have already gone through a detox period of at least five days. Mr Fenton, who works as a psychotherapist and counsellor at a number of hospitals including Malvern Private Hospital in Melbourne, said a number of the concerns about the clinic stemmed from a lack of understanding.

“This is a place where people have already detoxed from drugs or alcohol, and (clients) come in to the community ready to start working on themselves,” he said. 

Mr Fenton said he and his business partners planned on holding a community meeting after they had sorted through planning issues with the council.

“Before we had that community meeting we wanted to have all the information to give to them instead of saying we haven’t sorted some things out yet.”

In its first year the facility would provide services for between eight and 10 clients at any time.

Mr Fenton has since distributed a flier to local Smeaton residents, which outlines the aims of the centre and aims to dispel some possible concerns. Smeaton local Will Elsworth was one of those who submitted an objection, saying the facility had been poorly thought out.

“(The facility is) so far from emergency services, what if something untoward happens?” The site on Creswick-Newstead Road is two kilometres from Smeaton, with the closest medical facilities in Creswick and Daylesford.

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