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Go to - FDNC NEWS FORUMS > WA > Rehab Centre Wins Battle With Council

Posted by: Charles May 29 2018, 09:33 AM
Drug rehab centre Shalom House triumphs in lengthy court battle with City of Swan

By Charlotte Hamlyn

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Photo: Peter Lyndon-James hopes the findings will help forge a way forward with the council. (Australian Story: Marcus Alborn)

A Perth drug rehabilitation centre, once described as the "strictest" in Australia will keep its doors open after winning a three-year legal battle over its zoning classification.

Shalom House is a not-for-profit facility in Henley Brook in the Swan Valley, which houses up to 35 men with serious drug or other addictions.

As part of an uncompromising "cold-turkey" program, they are required to reside at the house for several weeks.

They are not allowed to swear, smoke or have visitors, and the slightest indiscretion can see them kicked out of the centre immediately.

The program is run by former drug dealer and ice addict Peter Lyndon-James.

He does not receive government funding for his program, insisting residents pay for their own rehabilitation at a cost of $300 a week until Shalom House organises a job for them.

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Photo: One of the Swan Valley homes used by Shalom House. (Facebook: Shalom House WA)

Mr Lyndon-James has been tied up in the legal dispute with the City of Swan since 2015 when the city ordered the facility be shut down because it did not meet residential zoning requirements.

Shalom House had applied to authorise the site for the rehabilitation program on the basis that it was a "community purpose" building, rather than a residential dwelling.

But the city rejected its application.

The matter went to the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT), then on to the Supreme Court, before returning to the SAT last September.

The tribunal has now ruled Shalom House is properly classified as "community purpose" and the council should reconsider its original decision to refuse the development.

"After three years and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by the City of Swan ratepayers' funds over a zoning issue, Shalom House have finally won the case," Mr Lyndon-James posted on Facebook.

'Blokes keep coming my way'

He provided evidence to the tribunal, describing the centre's rapid expansion and his battle to keep up with demand.

"I didn't ask to start a rehab," Mr Lyndon-James told the tribunal.

"Just blokes keep coming my way, but I can't turn a person away.

"And so when a person comes to me and every rehabilitation centre in Perth is full with a three- to six-month waiting list and he says, 'Please, Pete, I will do whatever it takes to change my life', I take that person in and I put him in the lounge room.

"I try to get the attention of the powers that be, but they just keep quoting policies and procedures, acts, rules and guidelines and that's why I have the problem that I have."

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Photo: Peter Lyndon-James with his wife Amanda. (Supplied: Shalom House)

He now hopes the SAT finding will lead to better communication between the two parties to determine a way forward.

"We don't want arguments, conflict or anything like that," he said on Facebook.

"What we are wanting is to just focus on restoring the lives of men and families in our community.

"Civil, respectful, polite communication can bring about a great outcome for us all."

City of Swan chief executive Mike Foley released a brief statement.

"The city is in the process of reviewing the decision handed down by SAT over the weekend," Mr Foley said.

"The city will be invited to reconsider the matter on its merits and it will be presented to council for a decision in due course."

Addictions are one of the main reasons behind a lot of criminal activity. This former addict is helping others who cry out for help to break the cycle. If that isn't a "community purpose" then I don't know what is.

Were the actions of the council inspired by petty bureaucracy or were they acting on the complaints of nearby residents?

Without knowing the full details it is difficult to comment but, on the surface it appears that Peter-Lyndon James deserves council support - not obstruction.

Posted by: Alicia May 29 2018, 09:45 AM
I would agree with you Charles. It sounds as if the very strict regime of rules and regulations during rehab would keep those living there from causing any trouble to surrounding people. Could be that the men are getting the discipline that they missed out on during their childhood. IMHO.

Posted by: charka May 29 2018, 10:43 AM
Bet the ambulance chasers got a good cut Money the could be spent on programs

Posted by: lee May 29 2018, 03:55 PM
As the Council is reviewing the decision; I wouldn't call the case settled.

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