Written by Kerrie Alexander
Tina Davie has walked a mile in the shoes of the broken men and women who turn to Bayside Transformations in their darkest hour.
The CEO of the Hervey Bay-based charitable residential drug and alcohol recovery program had a history of drug and alcohol issues, childhood trauma, was made a ward of the state at of 13, was in and out of welfare homes and incarcerated into a juvenile detention centre for a couple of years from the age of 14.
It was while Tina was in a group home at the age of 15 that she decided she wanted to make change happen, not just in her own life but in the lives of others who had suffered the trauma of physical, psychological, or sexual abuse, neglect, or abandonment.
Tina found solace in her faith and the champions that helped piece her life back together, to the point where she started her own recovery program, charitable street van and counselling centre in Brisbane in the 1990s.
She worked alongside good friend Darren Yates for eight years before moving to Mackay to complete an Undergraduate Degree in psychology and Graduate Diploma in counselling.
A true success story!
It wasn’t long before she received a call from Darren in 2008 – who in that time had visions of starting a men’s rehabilitation centre in Hervey Bay – asking for Tina’s help. The centre was open by 2010.
Twelve years on and Tina says she is exactly where she is meant to be.
“I came from a broken home and experienced sexual abuse and was incarcerated and things like that I my life,” Tina said.
“Coming from such brokenness to finding that healing process, I can now actually give back to other men and women and help empower them to find hope, and to discover a new life and find what they are passionate about and develop and facilitate that process.
“I ended up discovering who I am, and this is my purpose.”
The team, including Tina’s protege Lisa Love, started the not-for-profit centre with nothing in the bank nor any resources which was an incredible feat, considering it is now a million-dollar organisation that does not, or never has, received any Government Funding.
Lisa had very little experience in work place and helping others but has now worked her way up to General Manager, learnt how to do the financials of the organisation, and is now doing her degree in counselling, oversees the therapeutic side of the program and continues to show great potential of eventually running the organisation.
The Hervey Bay program has 24 beds available for men seeking help, who live on-site to complete the 12-month program.
A further 10 beds are available to women at another centre in the region.
Tina said the core concept of Bayside Transformations Therapeutic Model is the use of the peer community to promote constructive social and psychological change in individual residents.
Group work encompasses educational, therapeutic and support groups addressing topics which include anger management, guilt, shame, social skills, assertiveness training, relapse prevention, nutrition, and self-worth.
There is a “Love” sign that Tina placed in the back yard of the centre which has great significance.
“On my journey I discovered what love was and that’s why I put that canvas there.
“A lot of people haven’t received or been given love. From this brokenness, they have been abused, and neglected and people in and out of prison; men who are fatherless and a lot of brokenness from families.
“Many of them are from families with parents suffering from mental health and addiction themselves, so they are going to raise that generation the same way.
“I want to stop that line going down those generations and that’s what we do.
“They didn’t ask to be in a situation where they get abused. I understand the pain of abuse, sadness, anger, abandonment, fear and loneliness in which an addict covers up these feelings by self-medicating using drugs and alcohol.
“We want them to be different fathers, different husbands and our programs offer that.
“They learn how to communicate, self-love and how to listen … everything about our program encompasses things for them to become functional.”
Tina said finding out where everyone’s strengths lie is an imperative part of their path to becoming fully functioning, healthy members of society.
“They might like admin; they might like helping people or motivational speaking.
“We start to work on directing them for course work or upskilling with trades for people who like to work with their hands.
“They have time in this program to work with that. It’s their talents in them.
“Because of their past, many have used drugs and alcohol to cover up the pain and when you strip all that back and start again you can find who they really are.
“It just could be one person that could change the world or go out and do something incredible!”
With a 65% success rate, it’s clear the centre is transforming lives and helping the community by reducing the cost of mental health patients in hospital, keeping people out of prison at a cost of $110,000 per year and reducing unemployment.
A perfect example of making change is the centre’s “poster boy” Ashley Bottrell.
“He was in and out of jail and his parents didn’t know what to do with him, so he was forced to come here because he had a court case before him … he had such attitude.
“He was this tough guy, but he came and did our program and never looked back.
“He’s now part of the Board of Management of Transformations and he works as a consultant and counsellor at another Recovery Program called Salt.
“Someone like him no has an overflow effect and has helped so many other guys. This is the domino effect. He has helped facilitate change in their lives.”
Several graduates are also now employed in the on-site Vegetable Production Kitchen where they cut, peel and pack vegetables that are sold and delivered to pubs, clubs, and cafes all around the region.
“We have had many successful women and men come through the program who are now working in the field of community services or have returned to work of their choice.
“We currently employ five graduates in our business ventures, and we have about 20 volunteers who help in different areas of the organisation.”
The men and women pay 80% of their Centrelink income to take part in the program and the rest of the organisation’s outgoings are paid by fundraising, donations, small grants, and profits from the business ventures.
However, with their sights set firmly on continuing this vital service and buying the land, rather than leasing it, Tina said they are in desperate need of community assistance.
Anyone who would like to help can join the Partner for 5 initiative, which sees the sponsor donate $5 per week or a sum of their choice.
“We offer a lot in the program and of course we would love the public to sponsor us.
“We are the only service of our kind between here and Townsville and we’ve helped a lot of people in the Wide Bay region.
“It costs $110,000 to put one person in jail. It costs us $40,000 to rehabilitate a person.
“When it comes to mental health, families, and unemployment … we are changing the way our community looks.
“I believe we are a very important resource here in the Wide Bay region.”
To find out more, visit baysidetrasnformations.com.au or phone 4194 6621.