South Pacific Private celebrates 30 years

by Fleur Wood, CEO

November 8, 2023

Australia’s leading treatment centre for the underlying causes of addiction, anxiety and depression is proud to be celebrating 30 years of changing lives and healing families.

It’s remarkable to think that South Pacific Private is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary, and wonderful to reflect on the tens of thousands of lives changed since it first opened its doors. I was in my teens back in 1993 when my parents, Bill and Lorraine Wood, started South Pacific Private. I had already witnessed their incredible journey of recovery that took them to The Meadows treatment centre in Arizona, an experience that planted the idea in their minds, and in their hearts, that they should bring back the same therapeutic approach to Australia. They wanted all Australians to have the same life-changing opportunity that they had.

I’m grateful that I was able to attend the Family program at the Meadows with my parents at such a tender age. And thankful, too, that my dad’s therapist, Shirley Smith, suggested all those years ago that my father go to the Meadows for help with what we now know to be C-PTSD. No one was offering that kind of treatment in Australia at the time. I’m grateful, as well, for Pia and Pat Mellody, who were running The Meadows, said ‘yes’ when the couple from Australia turned up at their door and said – ‘we would like to offer this kind of program in Australia, would you help us?’. Pat and Pia’s generosity and commitment to helping others has forever changed the landscape of Australian mental health.

What was founded and created thirty years ago here in Curl Curl on Gayamaygal land is so much more than just bricks and mortar. It has become a place of healing and hope; a community, as my mum used to say, where miracles happen. The sign ‘Expect a miracle’ still hangs in our entrance, and after all these years South Pacific Private is still a place where miracles are made real every day. For our clients the miracle might be not needing to drink for a 24 hour period, or finding a way to forgive themselves, or the miracle of believing they are worthy of love and belonging.

This anniversary is bitter-sweet for sure. How proud my dad Bill would have been to see what South Pacific Private has become, having died in 2000, when the hospital was still in its fledgling years. Alas, he didn’t get to see how my mum, Lorraine, built it into what it has become today, Australia’s leading treatment centre, through her extraordinary determination and faith. Both mum and dad are a reminder of the power of service and the power of leading purposeful lives.

At South Pacific we often talk about the ripple effect: of how one changed life leads to another changed life, and how ripples can build into a gigantic wave. Often I find myself thinking of that first ripple that forever changed the course of my family’s life. It came in Auckland, New Zealand, August 1st 1970. Each night, on his way home from work, my father faced a choice whether he went home to his then wife and three daughters or whether to spend the night in the pub. Then a chronic alcoholic, unable to make any other choice he would drive to the pub to drink whiskey. But one night as he crossed the Auckland bridge debating which way to turn he asked for help from a Higher Power and he stopped off at a telephone box, thumbed through the directory to find Alcoholics Anonymous and then dialled the number. At the other end of the phone a man answered the call saying: ‘My name is Frank, and I am an Alcoholic. How can I help you?’ From that night on, my father never drank another drop of alcohol. What a miracle. What a ripple. What a wave. If only Frank had known how many people would be helped because he picked up that phone that night.

Since that first ripple was set in motion and since Mum left this world, I have had the privilege of working on site at South Pacific Private. Every day I am in awe of the team that I work alongside, their commitment and dedication is extraordinary. It really does take a special person to work here – and I’d really like to thank all the staff from catering, nursing, therapy, admin and the doctors who have worked here over the last 30 years; you are part of that ripple, that wave of transforming lives. I know if Mum and Dad were alive today they would want to say thank you to each and every person who has graced our doorstep.

The story of South Pacific Private is best told by the people whose lives have been transformed, both clients and staff. The people brave enough to reach out and say ‘I need help’ who have spent time here and the staff of the hospital who provided them with so much love and care. It’s a remarkable story, and, thirty years on, there are many more chapters still to write.

To celebrate 30 years, South Pacific Private is proud to present Recovered, a collection of 30 stories of recovery, spanning three decades. Since 1993 we have helped over 14,000 people and their families recover from addiction, anxiety and depression. Call 1800 063 332 to learn more about how our program may be of benefit to you or someone you love.

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Curl Curl NSW 2096

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