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The lease agreement for the Home of Hope Women and Children’s Centre in Meander has been signed at a meeting held at the Meander Valley Council Offices this week.  With contract details now finalised, Teen Challenge Tasmania (TCT) and their supporters are keen to begin the next phase towards helping women, and women with children, break free from the chains of addiction and other life controlling issues.

TCT Executive Director, Tanya Cavanagh said she was “thrilled to finally have the keys” enabling staff and volunteers to commence the cleanup of the site in readiness for the proposed fit-out of the buildings.  She said “There is a lot of work to be done but we have a team of qualified ‘tradies’, benefactors and volunteers who are ready, willing and’ itching’ to pitch in. Already, we have many community members asking how they can help to bring their school back to life.”

Mrs. Cavanagh commented that the greatest reward however, will be in “seeing the lives of women and children transformed as they progress through the faith based program and gain the practical skills and knowledge they need to live a life of freedom, significance and success”.  She stated that Home of Hope is an affiliate member of the Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association (ATCA) and currently working towards full membership.  The women will be immersed in a caring and supportive therapeutic community and over time will learn what it means to give back, beyond themselves and into the lives of others.  Through education and practical application, they will develop confidence and self-control and will progressively mature in their emotional intelligence (EQ). “This strengthens their resilience and ability to endure life’s stresses when they move beyond the safety and nurturing nature of the program and substantially reduces the risk of relapse”.

In addition, the mothers will gain parenting skills, enabling them to become the parent that they never thought possible.  This not only benefits their own children, but also breaks many of the destructive patterns of behaviour that are often passed down through generations.  Most importantly, these women will dare to dream once more, realising hope for a future that was once beyond their grasp. 

According to Mrs. Cavanagh, the term ‘rehabilitation’ does not adequately describe what takes place at Home of Hope. She said, “Rehabilitation, by definition, implies a return to the ‘previous state’ and for many of these women, the previous state was nothing short of despair and brokenness.  We believe that ‘life transformation’ is a far better description, because the women are empowered to move beyond their ‘previous state’ with new hope, new direction and from a position of strength and wholeness.”

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) ‘World Drug Report 2015’ exposes that whilst 1 in 3 drug users are women, they represent only 1 in 5 accessing rehabilitation. It suggests that this gender disparity is associated with “limited availability of services tailored to meet the specific needs of women” and goes on to say that “Women encounter significant systemic, structural, social, cultural and personal barriers in accessing substance abuse treatment”. These barriers include: lack of childcare; punitive attitudes to parenting and; pregnancy.  Notably, the report quotes that “fear of having to relinquish them (their children) as a condition of treatment” can deter them from seeking treatment in a residential setting.

Disturbingly, the ‘National Drug Strategy Household Survey Report’ revealed that Tasmania is now the second largest consumer of methamphetamines, the second largest consumer of cannabis and the equal third largest consumer of ecstasy in Australia.  The figures cannot be ignored, nor can the impact that this kind of drug use has on Tasmanian families, both now and into the future.

Teen Challenge has a documented success rate of between 70-86% for those that complete the program and has been validated by the ‘US Governments National Institute on Drug Abuse’. The faith based program was established in New York in 1958 by Reverend David Wilkerson and has been operating within Australia, since 1971.  Mrs. Cavanagh commented that “the success lies in the fact that it (the program) actually works and this is further evidenced in the lives of thousands of men, women and adolescents who have graduated and continue to live free from the bondages of addiction”.

She expressed her appreciation to the members of the Meander Community for their ongoing support and commented, “We are really looking forward to working alongside the community to create a warm and inviting environment into which women can come and find healing and hope they never thought possible.”

More detailed information on the proposed Home of Hope Centre can be viewed at the following links:

Teen Challenge Website –
http://www.teenchallengetasmania.org

Home of Hope Video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYZJ5099qC0

References:
• ‘National Drug Strategy Household Survey Report 2013’
• United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) ‘World Drug Report 2015’