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Happy 15th Birthday to the Sobering Up Shelter

The Sobering Up Shelter celebrates 15 years of supporting individuals in Canberra to recover from alcohol and/or drug intoxication in a safe place. It is the only service of its kind in the ACT and surrounding regions.

The Sobering Up Shelter provides a safe place for intoxicated people over 18 to recover from intoxication under the care of trained and specialist alcohol and other drug workers. The Sobering Up Shelter currently operates out of one location in the ACT and is open Thursday to Saturday nights from 11pm-11am, with last admission at 6am.

It was established to address the recommendations resulting from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (Office of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, 1996) and provides the ACT with an alternative to taking intoxicated people to the Watch House.  Research supports this approach, as the existence of sobering up shelters provide an effective strategy to reduce harms associated with excessive alcohol and other drug usage.

CEO of CatholicCare Canberra & Goulburn Anne Kirwan said “Over its 15 years of operation the Sobering Up Shelter has fostered a strong and effective partnership with ACT Policing. This partnership provides a service to the Canberra community which assists in caring for intoxicated people, whether from alcohol or other drugs, and providing them with a safe place to sober up.  It also offers the opportunity for brief intervention, education and referral in the morning, so that people can access further supports if required.  This model recognises public intoxication as a health issue, not a justice issue. The Sobering up Shelter has supported over 6,000 intoxicated people to recover from intoxication over this time, which is a fantastic achievement in working in a very challenging environment”.

“As we approach the warmer months, and more people head out in the pubs and clubs drinking, we expect that the number of intoxicated people needing help will increase. If you, your friend or family member has had too much to drink or has taken something else and needs somewhere to sleep it off, then the sobering up shelter is a safe option”.

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