PARENTS spoke out passionately against a proposed rehabilitation centre opposite Lake Albert Public School during an information session on Wednesday night.
Emotions ran high at the two-hour meeting, which proponents – local business owners, Debbie and Garry Cox and The Sanctuary Byron Bay – staged to address concerns prior to even lodging a development application (DA).
Former Riverina MP Kay Hull, who is now chairwoman of the National Advisory Council on Alcohol and Drugs, was the independent chair of the meeting, which drew close to 200 people.
Mrs Hull said parents and community members voiced strong opposition to the proposed 15-bed private rehabilitation centre because they feared “the worst case scenario”.
She also believed consideration must be given to whether proponents wanted to forge ahead with the proposal if those admitted into the facility would be made to feel unwelcome by nearby residents, potentially threatening their road to recovery.
“Is that an appropriate environment for someone trying to take back their life?” she questioned.
“If you’re (made to feel unwelcome), it is probably not conducive to a good outcome.
“The environment needs to be inviting.”
Earlier this month, Mrs Hull told The Advertiser such a facility was long overdue as “there is a shortage of targeted treatment options across the nation”.
But it is the location of the proposed site, directly opposite a primary school and in a highly residential area, that has the public burred up.
Lake Albert Public School Parents and Citizens Association called an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday night ahead of the public information session on Wednesday.
“It was a very emotional meeting understandably,” Mrs Hull said.
“Some people are concerned. The main concern is the proximity of the school.”
Mrs Hull praised the proponents for staging the information session.
“What has to be recognised is there is no DA,” she said.
“It was an information exercise. They said we want to have a meeting to share any information. Before a DA has even been lodged or any real plans sought, they have shared information. I commend the process.”
While Calvary currently offers a drug and alcohol rehab facility, this will be the first centre in Wagga for those who have detoxed and are wanting to learn to “live well”.
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