Our Story

Odyssey House in New South Wales was founded in 1977 by Sydney businessman, Walter McGrath, following the death of his son from a heroin overdose. As a testament to his son, Mr McGrath committed himself to finding a program to help other people who suffered from problems with drug dependence.

Mr McGrath brought the Odyssey House concept of long term residential rehabilitation from the United States of America to Australia. He opened Odyssey House in Sydney on 30 October 1977. From humble beginnings, the program has expanded to be one of the largest and most successful alcohol and other drug rehabilitation services in Australia. More than 35,000 people have been assisted over the past 40 years.

Today, providing a diverse range of services from The Withdrawal Unit, Parents and Children’s Program, MERIT (Magistrates Early Referrals Into Treatment program), residential rehabilitation, numeracy and literacy education and community based services.

Our program aims to build safe and healthy communities by minimising the harmful effects of alcohol and other drugs on the person’s health and by extension our society. We have a holistic treatment model that focuses on the person and helping them develop skills to cope with the underlying reasons they resorted to alcohol and other drug use. This often involves changing the habits of a lifetime and teaching self-awareness, responsibility, self-care to practical skills that have been missed due to addiction such as numeracy and literacy, life skills such as cooking and eating healthy food, budgeting and parenting.

Odyssey House complements the direction of the National Drug Strategy (NDS) and aligns with the health and community goals of the NSW Government’s NSW 2021 plan. The organisation is closely linked to the Network of Alcohol and Other Drugs Agencies (NADA), and the Australian Therapeutic Communities Association (ATCA).