Karobran rehabilitation centre's uncertain future

KAROBRAN New Life Centre is in danger of closing.

The residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility has been operating just out of Naracoorte for more than 30 years but owners say it is struggling to survive due to rising costs and staff shortages.

Managing director Pastor Dean Childs and his wife, Jenene, took over the centre in 1986 and turned it into a viable business venture which would help those in need.

However, lately they have had to put measures in place to ensure it stays afloat.

The female program was closed two years ago and Karingal - a 100 acre property owned by Karobran - has been for sale for about a month.

There are 20 male students undergoing rehabilitation with another six or seven on the waiting list.

"Over the past three years we have accumulated a debt of $100,000 each year," Pastor Childs said.

"We have a one-year plan negotiated with the bank. This means less cash flow for us each week so we are looking for volunteer staff at the moment, although we haven't advertised it yet.

"We're looking to streamline the amount we owe."

Students hand over 90 per cent of their Centrelink payments to do the program but Pastor Childs said that only covered one-quarter to one-third of the total running cost.

Karobran New Life Centre managing director Pastor Dean Childs fears for the future of the SE's only drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility because of increasing financial demands and staffing shortages.

Karobran New Life Centre managing director Pastor Dean Childs fears for the future of the SE's only drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility because of increasing financial demands and staffing shortages.

He said it was tough times for rehabilitation clinics across the State with two closing in Adelaide in the past 18 months.

"Unfortunately now everyone thinks it is the Government's responsibility (to look after rehabilitation clinics)," he said.

"I've always thought it's the responsibility of the churches and other organisations to help people change their lives.

"A lot (of rehabilitation centres) that I know of have gone under because they have relied on Government funding... you can't be controlled by one money source."

Karobran receives no Government funding and relies on the community, corporate bodies and sponsors to keep it going.

It recently acquired four new housing blocks which will cater for 16 extra students - taking the total to 35 and making the facility more viable, as long as an adequate number of staff can be hired.

"That's the greatest challenge we now face - getting a consistent flow of qualified staff and counsellors," Pastor Childs said.

For the past 18 months South African couple James and Jenny Arnott had helped to run Karobran but recently decided it wasn't for them.

Nobody else has come forward to take their place, forcing the centre to look all over Australia and overseas for suitable replacements.

"There's a board of management which looks over the property, vision and goals...but we're really looking for people to run Karobran," he said.

"In the past I've been in charge of the church, the teaching, everything really... I've just moved into Naracoorte and I'm thinking it's time I pass on the role to someone else.

"The one pre-requisite for the person wanting to work at Karobran is that they must have a desire for people and have their own life in control.

"They shouldn't want to be a rescuer but should be a person who can set an example."

Karobran New Life Centre focuses on a holistic approach to recovery and is faith-based through the Australian Christian Churches. All participants work, doing everything from pruning vineyards to doing maintenance jobs, as well as attend classes and counselling sessions.

The compulsory study curriculum includes options such as dealing with failure, pillars of wisdom, overcoming temptation, self-acceptance and specific steps to recovery.

"It can go for 12 months but very few people last the whole time," Pastor Childs said.

"We do a lot of training of the mind... it takes quite a while to change patterns of thinking."

Karobran is the only facility of its kind in the SE and also offers annual Dual Diagnosis Training for people wanting to study drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

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