News & Events

Thank you for my life

2 Jun 2018

“Thank you, Mum!! I love you.”

It was this simple statement that finally brought guest speaker Sophia* to tears… along with many in the audience at the 2018 Odyssey House Business Women’s Lunch. Publicly acknowledging her family’s turmoil and their support was a pinnacle in Sophia’s emotion-charged speech about her four-year ice addiction and eventual recovery. The applause was rousing, particularly for Sophia’s proud mother and guest of honour, Olivia*.

While hearing from leading business women is a key drawcard to the annual Sydney event, it’s the graduate’s story – the James McGrath Oration in memory of Odyssey House founder Walter McGrath’s son – that tugs the heartstrings and reinforces to guests why they support Odyssey House.

More than 300 men and women packed the Ivy Ballroom on 30 May for lunch, networking, fundraising and a panel discussion led by senior Australian Financial Review journalist Jennifer Hewitt. Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle, Carnival Australian Chairman Ann Sherry and former Jobs for NSW CEO Karen Borg shared their experiences and advice on earning respect and maintaining integrity in the workforce.

Odyssey House CEO Julie Babineau said she was delighted with another inspirational Business Women’s lunch and thanked donors, sponsors, volunteers, staff, board members and guests for their support.

“Generosity like yours helps us provide our residential rehabilitation program, as well as our 12 community services programs launched across Sydney in 2017, our 40th year,” Julie said.

“Our expansion means people get assistance suited to their needs: from early intervention and short-term counselling through to medically supervised withdrawal and our intensive long-term rehabilitation program, which Sophia completed in 2011.

“We’re delighted Sophia is one of our many staff with a lived experience of addiction and recovery; it helps in connecting with clients and it’s also reassuring for family members to meet someone who has overcome similar issues to their loved ones,” she said.

Sophia admits she didn’t realise the effect her addiction was having on other people at the time.

“My mum tells me I was emotionally unstable, argumentative, irrational and impulsive, made poor choices and didn’t really consider the consequences of my actions. I was unreliable and I didn’t follow through,” she told guests.

“It’s a huge regret for me that I wasn’t there for mum when she was going through her own turmoil of splitting up from dad and keeping her life together. I know now she struggled to go to work because I was out there, using ice. She cried herself to sleep at night, but had to get up for my brother and sister.  I certainly wasn’t a good role model for them.

“I am so grateful my family stood by me, even when I was at my lowest ebb – spending my 22nd birthday in prison after being refused bail for drugs charges.

“I remember the magistrate’s words: ‘You will be going to jail today, but I will give you an opportunity to get into a residential rehabilitation program and change your life so I don’t see you back here with more charges and problems in years to come’.

“It was a big, scary wake-up call and a challenging pathway to recovery, but I’m so glad I made the decision to get professional help.

“Odyssey House gave me my life and independence back. I will be forever grateful and thankful, particularly because after 15 months of rehab my family was able to welcome back the Sophia they had known years before.

“I’m so happy my mum is here with me today and we can acknowledge her publicly! Thank you mum! I love you!”