Letter to the editor

June 08, 2018

People from different community groups celebrate the April opening of The Cottage on St Andrews Rd, Shepparton.

We support The Cottage program

- Dallas Terlich, Pastor South Shepparton Church

I am writing on behalf of the South Shepparton Community Church to support The Cottage as a program and ask that it remains in the current location with the Greater Shepparton City Council support.

South Shepparton Community Church owns and operates out of the buildings at 15a St Andrews Rd. We have regular contact with the residents and support staff of The Cottage and are fully supportive of the work they do.

It has been reported recently that the council is requiring The Cottage to obtain a permit to operate as a Drug Rehabilitation Centre.

I understand there are some complexities surrounding this request including an appropriate definition of The Cottage program.

I have worked in the welfare field in Shepparton for most of my life and have had regular reason to refer clients to drug rehabilitation.

I, therefore, have attended many drug rehabilitation centres.

The Cottage appears to have some significant differences to these programs.

For example, the voluntary status of all residents and it is my understanding that there is no requirement to be drug addicted to reside there.

South Shepparton Community Church, therefore, asks the council to reconsider the need for the above-mentioned permit.

Having said that, we still support The Cottage regardless of the decision of this program definition.

South Shepparton Community Church would also like to offer the buildings at 15a St Andrews Road for use by The Cottage.

It may be that some of the activities currently taking place at The Cottage could operate out of the church buildings.

This may mitigate the need for a permit or a notice to ‘‘cease and desist’’.

We, therefore, would ask the council to consider how our buildings could be used, if required, to ensure The Cottage has no interruption to the good work they are undertaking.

In conclusion, we ask the council to show compassion to those who are currently living at The Cottage.

I am sure you are aware of how difficult it is to secure accommodation in Shepparton.

To put in place any order that would jeopardise the security these people now enjoy would be heartless.

We therefore ask the council to work with the The Cottage board to ensure secure housing remains in place for these vulnerable people.

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