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NSW Addiction Retreat helps reduce wait times for Australia’s most densely populated region

Today marks the opening of the Southern Highlands Addiction Retreat, providing 24, private, quality rehabilitation beds for Australia’s most populous corridor from and addressing the critical demand for these essential services.

The Southern Highlands Addiction Retreat is situated in Canyonleigh, approximately 1.5 hours from Sydney, Wollongong, and Canberra.

Managing Director Warwick Parer has been working tirelessly to open his second addiction rehab centre after observing growing demand and waitlists for services. “Australia has grappled with a shortage of rehabilitation services for decades, a situation that has worsened post-2020 with many facilities now stretched thin. The resulting long wait times can lead to a deterioration in participants’ conditions, which in turn has a detrimental effect on the wider community,” said Mr. Parer.

Robert Stirling, CEO of NADA, NSW’s peak organisation for non-government alcohol and other drug services paints a grim picture on wait times to access AOD treatment services. 

“Like other jurisdictions across Australia, NSW communities face lengthy wait times to access treatment. This is particularly difficult for people from regional and rural areas who often must travel significant distances to access treatment. It is not uncommon for people to be on the wait list of a number of residential services in NSW in hope of being able to access treatment when they really need it.” Mr Stirling commented today.

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Founded by Warwick Parer and his wife Dr. Jennifer Parer, this centre is an expansion of their Northern NSW rehabilitation centre Gunnebah, which has been operating commendably since 2017.  The Southern Highlands Addiction Retreat and its team of expert doctors and therapists will apply the same methodology across both centres.

Mr Parer is also a former member of the Australian Defence Force, observed the growing need for more accessible addiction services for the residents of residing between Sydney and Canberra, which led to the establishment of this new facility. His strong connection with Veterans has been instrumental in shaping the retreat’s services, which are expected to cater to Australian Military Veterans, along with private and NDIS participants.

The Southern Highlands Addiction Retreat will provide private room accommodation for 24 participants, to relieve the growing demand for rehabilitation, including services for private and NDIS participants.

Set in a semi-secluded location, on 100 acres and surrounded by national park forest, the Centre features high-quality sporting facilities, including a private gym, swimming pool, sauna, tennis and basketball courts and access to the neighbouring equestrian centre. Its location balances the seclusion necessary for recovery with proximity to essential services, fostering an optimal environment for healing and rehabilitation.

Dr. Gregory Smith OAM, from Southern Cross University, underwent a profound transformation after a more than decade of homelessness and living in a forest to becoming a renowned Professor of Sociology and author. Using his own hardships as a catalyst for advocacy in recovery and personal achievement, Dr. Smith has collaborated with the Gunnebah team for more than five years. He underscores the importance of varied, reliable rehabilitation services.

“Australians need access to trusted, diversified rehab options. The Southern Highlands Addiction Retreat offers critical care and personalised treatments. People suffering trauma need help to see clearly; private facilities help reduce waiting periods and offer participants a pause for clarity. They provide an opportunity for individuals to exit detrimental circumstances, change their social dynamics, and receive care tailored to their needs,” Dr. Smith stated.

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