News & Events

Leading rehab Odyssey House expands into community services to treat addiction and mental illness across central, inner west and eastern Sydney

in News
7 Jul 2017

Residents across Sydney’s central, inner west and eastern suburbs impacted by alcohol and other drug addiction and mental illness will benefit from free community-based treatment with the launch today of Odyssey House Community Services Central & Eastern Sydney, an extension of the organisation’s renowned residential rehabilitation services.

Funded by an $868,000 two-year grant through Central and Eastern Sydney Primary Health Network (CESPHN), Odyssey House will help people overcome drug dependence, manage their mental illness, prevent relapse and access support while going about their daily lives in the community.

Odyssey House is one of four leading service providers, including ACON, Community Restorative Centre and WHOS, to share in $2.4 million of CESPHN grants to improve local addiction treatment services, awarded as part of the federal government’s response to the National Ice Taskforce Report.

Odyssey House Community Services Central & Eastern Sydney offers a range of services:

Individual and group psychosocial counselling for people seeking to overcome alcohol/drug dependence, including those who also have mental illness
Aftercare sessions providing support and teaching skills to help people who are in recovery avoid or manage relapse and rebuild their lives
Care coordination and referrals to other healthcare providers and social and welfare services to ensure integrated, holistic care and support
These services are free to the 1.5 million residents of the Local Government Areas/councils of Bayside, Burwood, Canada Bay, Canterbury, Bankstown, City of Sydney, Inner West, Georges River, Randwick, Strathfield, Sutherland, Waverley and Woollhara.

Services are provided at the Odyssey House hub in Redfern and a new outreach site in Canterbury, with plans to expand down into Botany, Mascot and across to La Perouse and the Eastgardens areas.

Call 1800 397 739 or visit for support and assessment from Odyssey House Community Services–Central & Eastern Sydney. Referrals are welcome, but not necessary.

According to Network of Alcohol and other Drugs Agencies figures[*], across the area there are at least 132,570 people with alcohol use disorder; 9690 with methamphetamine use disorder (including ice, speed, ecstasy); 34,500 with cannabis use disorder; 11,895 with non-medical opiate use disorder (including heroin); and 6975 people with benzodiazepine (sedative) use disorder.

With the latest AIHW report[†] showing more Australians are seeking treatment for addiction (1 in 180 in 2015-16, an 11% rise on 2013-14), particularly for methamphetamine/ice dependence, Odyssey House CEO Julie Babineau said the organisation’s expansion into community services was timely.

“Helping people overcome drug dependence has been our expertise and our passion for forty years, primarily through our residential withdrawal and rehabilitation programs,” Ms Babineau said.

“Treating and supporting people in community settings is a natural extension of what Odyssey House does best. This welcome government funding means many more people struggling with drug problems can access our services for expert, evidence-based help without ‘going into rehab’.

“Day-based therapies may better suit people who are working, caring for family or studying; who need early intervention so serious addiction or mental illness doesn’t set in; or who need support or relapse prevention after treatment or a custodial sentence. It’s also an accessible option for clients under Community Corrections orders or the Magistrates Early Referral Into Treatment program.

“By providing integrated, stepped care targeted to clients’ needs – and treating drug dependence and mental illness at the same time – Odyssey House Community Services is reducing barriers to treatment, making the system easier to navigate, increasing the likelihood people will continue with treatment, and ultimately improving outcomes for individuals and families affected by drug problems.

“Odyssey House Community Services Central & Eastern Sydney is a vital part of our 2017 rollout of non-residential local services across greater Sydney, funded by $3.5 million in federal government grants through four Primary Health Networks,” Ms Babineau said.

CESPHN CEO Dr Michael Moore said: “We are confident these new services will address key service gaps identified through our needs assessment to build the foundations for a sustainable local drug and alcohol treatment system within our primary health network.”

For people seeking to overcome addiction, Odyssey House Community Services provides weekly individual and group psychosocial counselling and rehabilitation sessions, helping clients deal with underlying personal issues, learn coping strategies and life skills, prevent relapse and access support. Clients who also have mental health problems can attend a dedicated support group.

People who need assistance to withdraw from alcohol and other drugs can be referred to appropriate GPs, clinics or hospitals, or be admitted to the Odyssey House Withdrawal Unit in south-western Sydney if residential care is the best option.

For people needing aftercare services, Odyssey House Community Services provides relapse prevention, harm minimisation training, educational sessions and counselling to people in recovery from alcohol/other drug dependence, often with co-occurring mental illness. Staff provide two days of face-to-face support at the outreach centre each week, with telephone access five days a week.

Individual counselling is complemented by weekly group meetings, assisting clients to build recovery-based lifestyles by covering: relapse prevention; relationships; parenting; anger and conflict management; stress management; communication; relaxation techniques; and money management.

Odyssey House Community Services also helps clients find employment, educational courses and housing, and access information, resources and other community and health services. An Odyssey House in-reach officer links clients with services across the region, such as referring them to a SMART Recovery peer support program, consulting with a local GP to develop a managed care plan, or making contact with Centrelink or housing providers. Support is also offered to families and carers.

Ms Babineau said Odyssey House Community Services assists people dependent on all types of drugs and from all walks of life, with a particular focus on under-serviced or vulnerable groups: pregnant women or with children, people transitioning from prison or homelessness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, other culturally and linguistically diverse groups and LGBTIQ people.

“We’re about making a measurable improvement to people’s lives and their communities, empowering them to overcome personal issues and build their resilience to deal with life, free of drugs,” she said.

“A great example is ‘Trudy’, who came to our residential rehabilitation program five years ago.

“Low self-esteem, a need to belong and a desire to fit in and have fun with her friends led Trudy to experiment with amphetamines at 18: ecstasy, then speed and later ice. Trudy withdrew from her family and friends and eventually lost her job. The turning point came when she ended up in jail, but was allowed to enter residential rehabilitation. Trudy found her journey at Odyssey House difficult at times, particularly the first six months when she suffered depression due to amphetamine withdrawal.

“After 15 months, Trudy completed treatment and decided to help others, working at Odyssey House Parents’ and Children’s Program before joining a community services organisation. She’s a real role model for others and an excellent example of who we want working in our new Community Services.”

For media information or interviews with Odyssey House CEO Julie Babineau or a client, contact:

Carol Moore, Moore Public Relations: 02 9560 2826; 0402 382 363;

[*] For every 100,000 people, NADA Planning Tool for D&A Services (based on AusBoD data) predicts: 8,838 have an alcohol use disorder; 646 – methamphetamine misuse disorder; 465 – benzodiazepine misuse disorder; 2,300 – cannabis misuse disorder; 793 – non-medical opiate misuse disorder.

[†] Australian Institute of Health & Welfare 2017. Alcohol & other drug treatment services in Australia 2015–16. Drug treatment series no.29. HSE 187