Drug rehabilitation centre Fresh Hope, after 19 years of helping mothers beat addiction, has sadly closed.
Founders John and Karen Bartlett have helped almost 400 women in the 19 years since they quit their jobs and began their rehab clinic which allowed mothers recovering from addiction to live with their children
Member for Toowoomba South David Janetzki said Fresh Hope kept children out of foster care as it was the only centre in Queensland which kept mothers and their children together during their 12-month rehabilitation program.
“Many mothers who sought help at Fresh Hope came from a long line of addicts who grew up in foster care themselves and then lost their own children because of their drug or alcohol addiction,” Mr Janetzki said.
“Through Fresh Hope, John and Karen were breaking the generational cycle of addition by empowering mothers to develop a drug-free, healthy lifestyle for their families,” he said. “Services like this are what make our community great and we need to do what we can to support them in the future.”
Mr Bartlett said Fresh Hope lost its $300,000-a-year federal funding to pay staff in 2016 because of disagreements over how to run the program.
“We were given our new contract at 3pm on the Thursday and told if it was not signed and sent back by noon Friday and the federal election was called, we would lose our funding,” Mr Bartlett said.
“I didn’t have time to present it to our Board, or a solicitor, or negotiate and sure enough the election was called that weekend. We discovered that all other drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres had received their new contracts one month before,” he said.
Since June 2016, Fresh Hope had been running on a volunteer basis using dwindling donations. Mr Bartlett has appealed to both State and Federal Governments for funding.
Mr and Mrs Bartlett have shed a lot of tears since the Board decided to close the doors at Fresh Hope on February 28. “This was our life 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said. “Since mid-December I have had over 70 phone calls from mothers wanting to access our facility and we’ve had to say no.”
Tamara, 26, was the last mother to finish the Fresh Hope program in December and said it saved her life “Before I came to Fresh Hope my life was messed up,” she said.“I lost my kids and my life was all about drugs, violence and crime.”
Tamara’s two daughters Dekota Rose, 4, and Deliha Rayan, 2, had been in foster care for 18 months before she began rehabilitation at Fresh Hope in March last year.
Tamara’s life of addiction began when she left home in her early teens. “First I was a paint sniffer, then a drinker and then I started using drugs,” she said. “I was on drugs for 12 years – heroin, methamphetamine, speed, cocaine, ecstasy, pot – I was on it all and having cocktails of it”.
“But then at Fresh Hope I started detoxing from all the drugs, I got my kids back and I became me again.”
Tamara and the other women were taught about parenting, cooking, cleaning, how to budget, how to rent property, and develop a network of friends who will help them stay sober after they leave.
“It was challenging because they change your thinking,” Tamara said. “They get you out of the justifying and the self-pity and the ‘why me’ thoughts and brought out the woman in me,” she said.
Mrs Bartlett, a former social worker, said it was commonly understood that whatever age a young person began substance abuse was the age at which they stopped developing emotionally. “We could be teaching basic care and parenting stills to a mother who might have been 30 but emotionally was only 15,” she said.
Tamara is now living in her own home with her children who think of Mr and Mrs Bartlett as grandparents “Everything John and Karen do is from the heart,” she said. “Fresh Hope was amazing and I am just so happy – it brings peace to my heart to have my children at home with me.”
Office of David Janetzki MP
Member for Toowoomba South
Shadow Attorney-General and Shadow Minister for Justice