SHALOM House is continuing to expand its residential rehabilitation service, with plans to house a further 46 men at a resort along a major tourist trail in the Swan Valley.
Owner Peter Lyndon-James, who is locked in a Supreme Court battle with the City of Swan over planning issues, said he was renting Swan Valley Oasis Resort on West Swan Road to cope with the overwhelming demand for his services.
”Currently I have 85 men in my program and we are about to go to 131 men,” he said.
“Both my phones continue to ring with families needing help, with men close to the point of suicide and wanting to change their life but with no place to go to do it.
“I respect and obey the rules of our land to the best of my ability, but what do I do when all of my houses are full and every rehabilitation centre across Perth has a three to six-month waiting list?
“I have chosen not to turn those in need away.
“Ice is a drug like no other that our society has seen before.
“People are smoking it like they did cannabis, not realising that the effects don’t just affect them but the whole family. By the time they realise, it is too hard to turn back.
“Just yesterday I took in a fella who hopped on a plane from Melbourne and rocked up at my doorstep. What do I do?
“I can’t turn someone away when they come to me ready to change, begging me to help them.”
Mr Lyndon-James said he had put the City of Swan on notice that he had secured the property.
“The property has been locked in and I will be putting another application in to the City for its use,” he said.
“I am again asking Mayor Mick Wainwright and the City of Swan to come out to Shalom House to look over our program, not our properties.”
City of Swan chief executive Mike Foley said Mr Lyndon James had informed the City via email that he was operating severalf rehabilitation centres.
“As it stands, none of Mr Lyndon James’ properties within the City have the required planning approval to be operating as a rehabilitation facility,” he said.
“Without approval, the City has the option to take compliance action, including requesting the facility to cease activity.”
Developer Gerry Hanssen, who bought Swan Valley Oasis Resort in 2010, said he did not expect any trouble while Shalom House rented the resort’s cottages.
“Peter’s drug treatment program is very successful and his discipline is so strict we don’t anticipate any problems,” he said.
“As people want to be treated from him all over Australia, we can help him with short term accommodation. We can also help get the residents get back into the workforce through his labour hire company until they are ready to return to their families.”
Mr Lyndon-James said he hoped to secure a permanent place for all of his clients within two years and was grateful the City had allowed Shalom House to continue operating until the court action was resolved.
“Shalom House has been going just over four-and-a-half years. What we are doing is working, not just at changing lives but restoring families and it costs our Government and community nothing, not a single cent,” he said.
Shalom House in Henley Brook was told to shut down in 2015 after the City rejected its application to change the use of its rural block from residential to community purpose.
Shalom House appealed the decision in the State Administrative Tribunal and sought to have the building reclassified. SAT found Shalom House did not fit the classification either party were seeking and asked the City to consider re-classifying the property to another classification altogether.
The City rejected SAT’s decision, saying it could jeopardise its local planning scheme.
The matter was heard in the Supreme Court in January, with a decision expected to be handed down soon.
In a Q&A posted online by the City of Swan late last year, the City said it did not want to stop Shalom House from operating.
“The City of Swan has taken no action to close Shalom House and believes the not-for-profit facility does an excellent job in the rehabilitation of drug and alcohol-dependents,” the post said.