ReGen welcomes funding for ‘Mother & Baby’ withdrawal service (28/04/14)

Melbourne, VIC, 28th April 2014 – UnitingCare ReGen, the lead alcohol and other drug treatment and education agency of UnitingCare Victoria & Tasmania, today welcomed the announcement of $4 million new funding from the Victorian Department of Health for a ‘Mother and Baby’ residential withdrawal service.

In announcing the funding for a four-bed unit, to be co-located with ReGen’s existing adult residential withdrawal service in Ivanhoe, Minister Mary Wooldridge recognised the importance of removing potential barriers to alcohol and other drug treatment for mothers with young children:

Getting new mothers off drugs is critical for themselves, their babies, their families and the community. This new drug treatment facility for new mothers and their babies will fill a critical service gap and build on reforms underway in the specialist drug and alcohol treatment system.

ReGen CEO Laurence Alvis said:

This is a tremendous step forward for alcohol and other drug treatment in Victoria.

We know that the difficulties of arranging appropriate alternative care for babies and young children is a significant obstacle for mothers who want to cease or reduce their alcohol or other drug use.  The responsibilities of parenthood can be a great motivator for mothers to make sustainable changes to their substance use, but they can also be a cause of great additional stress during an already very challenging process.

Until now, we have seen the impact of withdrawal services that are unable to meet the needs of mothers with young children.  We have seen women unable to complete residential withdrawal because of the stress of being separated from their children and we know that there are many women, for whom the prospect of placing their baby or young children in the care of another person for seven-to-ten days is an insurmountable barrier.

We know, through our own work with young families and through the examples of other family inclusive services like Odyssey House Victoria’s Mother and Baby residential rehabilitation program, that including young children within therapeutic program settings is a powerful enabler of treatment accessibility and effectiveness, not just for parents but all family members. 

We have seen the impact that addressing the needs of all family members within alcohol and other drug treatment can have on both parents’ capacity to manage their own behaviour and meet the emotional, social and developmental needs of their children.  Strengthening mothers’ skills and confidence as parents (and their recognition of the benefits for their children) is a powerful enabler of successful treatment outcomes.  But none of this can be done if treatment services are inaccessible or unable to respond to families’ needs.

For many people, residential withdrawal is a necessary first step towards a longer term engagement with treatment services and sustainable change.  This new Mother and Baby unit (which will commence operation in 2016) fills a clear gap in Victoria’s current alcohol and other drug treatment system and will significantly increase the system’s capacity to engage vulnerable families and work together with them (and other specialist services) to support parents, prevent harm to children and enable long-term reductions in risks to individuals, families and the wider community.


For further information or comment please contact Laurence Alvis on (03) 9384 8880 or 0421 811 707 or Media Contact Paul Aiken (0435 875 818).

Background about ReGen:  UnitingCare ReGen is the lead alcohol and other drugs treatment and education agency of UnitingCare Victoria & Tasmania. We have been promoting health and reducing alcohol and other drug related harm since 1970.  We support social justice and sustainable change at an individual, community and systemic level.