Jan McKinnon knows the grief of families struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.
“I had two daughters and a son, I lost the son and the youngest daughter to drugs 26 and 25 years ago,” she said.
“And about 10 years ago I lost a granddaughter to drugs.”
Through her family’s experiences, Ms McKinnon said she saw gaps in rehabilitation services, especially for women.
This is what prompted her to participate in the creation of a rehabilitation center for women in New South Wales.
“If I can save a family from going through the same grief and pain, then it’s worth it.”
Now, in the land of Darkinjung on the central coast of New South Wales, that dream is coming true.
This week, the first women-only Indigenous community rehabilitation center began receiving applications.
‘The Glen for Women’ is the result of years of campaigning by Ms McKinnon and several other strong women who sit on the board of The Glen, which has run a successful men’s rehabilitation center since 1994.
“It all started while serving on the board of The Glen for Men,” Ms. McKinnon said.
“Council members decided it was time we gave the women a chance, as they are the usual carers.
“There was a lot of traveling to Canberra and talking to state and federal politicians. It took quite a bit of time.”
In 2019, The Glen for Men’s Board of Directors secured a $19 million grant from the federal government to open a women-only service.
Construction on the new facility began last year, and last month council members were able to tour the new women’s facility.
After the visit, President Coral Hennessy, whose late brother Cyril created The Glen for Men, was emotional as she spoke of the long-standing need for the women’s facility.
“You wouldn’t believe how it feels to be able to see this happen,” she said.
“It means the world to me.”
Another board member, Cheryl Bailey, said she cried when she saw the center completed.
She has battled addiction before, and the center has been one of the ways she has been helping others since she got sober at the age of 38.
“When we first got here and saw the rooms the way we wanted them I just cried…it’s just mind blowing to us that this is even happening and it’s done and we’re going to open,” she said.
“We just feel joy in our hearts.”
The women’s center will be modeled after the men’s Glen.
The Glen for Women’s chief operating officer, Kylie Cassidy, said the 20-bed facility will run a 90-day “holistic” rehabilitation program.
“We’re really looking to unpack those traumas that led to this addiction and really help people overcome that and know their triggers,” she said.
“But also fostering healthy, happy habits and new ways of living once back in the community.”
The center is accepting applications from women across Australia and is expected to open its doors to its first clients this month.
Ms. Cassidy expects the center to make a significant difference in the lives of many women and their families.
“We know that Indigenous women are heavily represented in the detention system, so I think having this healing and therapeutic space, which feels like home and really helps people come back to life, is going to make a big difference in breaking this cycle.
Ms Cassidy said the center would also accept applications from non-Indigenous women.
Board members hope to see other centers like The Glen for Women open in other parts of Australia.