The Cottage faces legal battles

May 30, 2018

The Cottageā€™s company secretary Rob Bryant and managing director Joshua Simm claim local support is strong, despite a local backlash and council moves to close the facility.

The Cottage, a Shepparton residential rehabilitation centre, is facing legal obstacles to remain operating.

Shepparton residential rehabilitation centre The Cottage faces a series of legal obstacles to remain operating.

Next month, Greater Shepparton City Council will vote on whether to grant The Cottage a planning permit while running a simultaneous action through VCAT to have The Cottage shut down.

A VCAT practice day hearing is also scheduled for June.

The Cottage’s company secretary Rob Bryant said the legal trouble was a result of misinterpreting licensing rules.

Previously, Mr Bryant believed The Cottage operated under an exception offered to crisis accommodation.

‘‘We’re not eligible for the exemption, so we have to accept that,’’ Mr Bryant said.

A door-knock of local properties revealed an overwhelmingly positive response to The Cottage’s operations, according to Mr Bryant, who said nine out of 10 people he had spoken to supported the project.

‘‘We’re doing our best to comply and be transparent,’’ The Cottage’s managing director Joshua Simm said.

But a local resident and organiser of opposition to The Cottage disagreed there was the claimed level of local support.

Rosalie Smith said The Cottage was poorly run and was taking up space and money that could be better used for a properly operated, Shepparton-based rehabilitation facility.

‘‘Our concern is more about the quality,’’ she said.

‘‘If we allow this one, how many more will be allowed?

‘‘My fear is for the clients there that remain. We’ll keep fighting. We don’t want this sort of model of rehab in our town — or any town.’’

Questions have been raised about the approach of The Cottage to helping addicts kick their habit.

The Cottage is backed by two financial instruments, SHADAC Inc and Clearer View Pty Ltd.

Clearer View Pty Ltd, a private for-profit financial vehicle, was uncovered by The News via a title search on a property rented by SHADAC Inc.

SHADAC Inc is a not-for-profit charity which falls under the jurisdiction of the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profit Commission.

‘‘SHADAC Inc is a registered charity based in Shepparton, Victoria. It was registered in January 2017 as a public benevolent institution with entitlement to deductible gift recipient status,’’ a ACNC spokesperson said.

Four directors of SHADAC Inc are shareholders in Clearer View Pty Ltd, according to Mr Bryant.

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