Connecting to beat addiction

By Ashlea Witoslawski

The community is invited to come together in May to learn more about addiction from those with first-hand experience.

Hosted by drug and alcohol recovery facility, The Cottage, the public event aims to promote community connectedness on the topic of addiction and how we can tackle this health issue.

Attendees will hear from guest speaker Maria Hutchison, who will launch her autobiography Facing Maria.

Working as a behavioural change expert specialising in addiction, Ms Hutchison’s book shares her life story of overcoming adversity, abuse and trauma and sending the powerful message that healing is possible.

‘‘My biggest asset is my story and I am willing to share it to help other individuals, and groups, to find healing, hope and freedom as they become ready to change their life,’’ she said.

‘‘I am looking forward to sharing my book and connecting with the Shepparton community in the hope it will lead inspired discussion and action.’’

Guests will also hear from Professor Edward Ogden, a specialist in addiction medicine at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne and the Goulburn Valley Health Service in Shepparton.

Professor Ogden will speak about the lack of facilities for people in recovery for addiction, and the importance for those tackling addiction to live safely. The Cottage’s company secretary Rob Bryant said it was important to hear the stories of those with lived experience to teach others in the community.

‘‘Until we see addiction as a health issue and the underlying traumas of life are the cause, we as a society will remain stuck in fear of drugs,’’ he said.

‘‘Now the planning issues are out of the way, The Cottage is inviting the community to come together to celebrate and create the new pathways to connection, the opposite of addiction.

‘‘Our event will allow the audience to ask questions of the guest speakers and to mingle with, listen to and appreciate stories of hope.’’

The Cottage Connection event is free and will be held on Thursday, May 2 at The Connection, Midland Hwy, Shepparton, from 6pm for a 6.30pm start.

Please register your attendance by email to, or phone Maria on 0438053507.