Established in 1979, Odyssey House Victoria offers 10 different types of treatment interventions across Victoria to assist individuals and families reduce their use of alcohol and other drugs and lead healthier lives.
Over the last decade the organisation has evolved to provide a holistic approach to treatment in recognition of the often inter-related factors affecting addiction – mental health, gambling, family violence, childhood trauma and more. A key part of this is a focus on breaking cycles, building parental skills, addressing multi generational neglect that also impacts education and employment opportunities.
Over the last six years, the organisation has tripled their overall budget and the number of clients they support. Odyssey House Victoria has two residential rehabilitation centres – one in Melbourne at Lower Plenty and one in Benalla – however it is their community service programs that have grown the most.
Two out of five clients being treated through Odyssey House are methamphetamine – ice users – leading to increased investments in such treatment programs.
According to Odyssey House CEO, Dr. Stefan Gruenert, the number of people using all types of drugs is reducing, however the harms caused by those using problematically seem to be increasing. Despite the organisation’s growth, our capacity to meet the need was still relatively low, he said.
While Odyssey House works with young people from 10 or 12 years old, the majority of clients are adults aged 18-65 years, with the average age being people in their 30s. “Our clients encompass a range of cultural and social backgrounds,” said Stefan. “Ten per cent are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, 10-15% are from other ethnic groups, and two-thirds are male.”
The average length of stay at Odyssey House’s residential programs is around four months. On top of this, the organisation runs programs for young, at-risk families and schools, trying to develop responsible parenting skills, and supporting young people to stay at school.