ABOUT US 2018-09-11T01:38:36+00:00

Our Patron


Richard Rijs
Patron and Board Member

One of the founding family who established Patties Foods in East Gippsland, Richard retired from his role as Managing Director at the end of 2007. He lives in Lakes Entrance with his wife, Marlene, and near his three children and their families, including seven grandchildren.

Richard has been:

  • A Director with the Lakes Entrance Fisherman’s Co-op.
  • A Director of Snowy River Seeds.
  • Treasurer of the Victorian Bakers Association.
  • Member of the Australian Society of Bakers.
  • On the Regional Development Advisory Committee, which assists the Minister for Regional and Rural Development in formulating policy to improve the outlook for regional Victoria,
  • Non-Executive Director of Davies Bakery Pty. Ltd.

Currently, Richard is:

  • Chair of the East Gippsland Marketing Board.
  • Non-Executive Director of Patties Foods Limited.
  • Has investments in several start-up businesses and is Director of three of them.

Our Board Executive Members

Peter Down

Joint initiator with his wife, Margaret, of the vision for the centre, Peter Down has been resident of Bairnsdale since 1972.

Married in 1982, Peter and Margaret have eight adult children and thirteen grandchildren between them.

Peter has retired as a commercial and residential builder, having been involved in building houses, units and churches in Bairnsdale and East Gippsland since coming to East Gippsland.

Peter and Margaret are very active members of the Anglican Church where Peter is a Lay Reader and Warden, and they feel that God has put this project on their hearts due to the great need there is in our society today, and it is their desire to see it brought to fruition.


Peter Neal

Peter Neal a proud 5th generation East Gippslander.

After education at Swan Reach Primary and Bairnsdale Technical College, Peter went to Melbourne, primarily to play sport, where he met and married Maree.  Now living in Bairnsdale having had three children, he has had several successful businesses over the years, currently in home giftware.

A committed community person, Peter has enjoyed volunteering in several community groups as well as travelling overseas to volunteer in areas such as Thailand and Cambodia with building programs.

Peter felt privileged to be invited to be involved in this very exciting project to assist in East Gippsland, and looks forward to the whole of community getting involved in this very important Project.

He is a past East Gippsland Shire Councillor having served as Mayor in the 2014/2015 year.

Tony Ward drug rehab centre gippsland

Tony Ward


Tony Ward is a partner of the Legal Firm of Wards Barristers & Solicitors at Bairnsdale which was established in 1981. He is a resident of Bairnsdale and is married to Sharon and they have four children.

Tony was a past Board Member of Bairnsdale Regional Health Service for twelve years, and Chair of Nagle College School Council for six years. Tony enjoys Family, Golf & Bushwalking.

Our Board Committee Members

Julie Barling drug rehab centre bairnsdale

Julie Barling

Julie Barling has been the CEO of Wood Street Windows PL for the past fifteen years.

Previously, Julie worked in the banking sector for twenty years in roles such as management, finance, human resources and retail services.

She lives in Bairnsdale, is married to Shane and they have two children.

Julie recognises the value of locals and businesses supporting this project and sees her deep involvement with the business community as a huge asset to the Centre’s vision.

Simon Anderson

Simon has had over thirty years’ experience as a civil and structural engineer, and is registered building practitioner under the Victorian Building Act 1993 and works in both a coordination and lead design role. Simon’s project experience includes special charge schemes for local government clients, residential, commercial, and industrial buildings, carparks, drainage, structures and bridges. Current in new methods and techniques, Simon continues to implement the latest information to improve what his team can offer clients.

Ricky Ross


Ricky Ross retired from Victoria Police in 2017 after 39 years’ service as the appointed Emergency Management Inspector for Gippsland with extensive senior Police management experience and has worked in all fairer Government regions of Gippsland.

Ricky’s governance experience comes from many years chairing a number of Regional Emergency Management committees and as a long serving board member of GippSport (Gippsland Sports Assembly) of which he is currently an executive board member and immediate past chair.

In 2007, Ricky was honoured in the Queen’s Birthday awards with the Australian Police Medal for distinguished police service.

Ricky is married to Dot and proud father of three children with 7 grandchildren and enjoys golf, fishing and travelling.

John Glynn drug rehab centre bairnsdale

John Glynn


John Glynn commenced commercial life with the Australian Taxation Office in Melbourne in 1967 before acquiring a hotel with family in Bairnsdale in 1974.

Qualifying as an accountant in 1971, he is a former sole accounting practitioner and a former partner, financial planner, finance broker, and current senior associate with Eager and Partners Accountants.

John has experience in residential and commercial building and was a co-founder and director of a timber drying and processing plant in Bairnsdale. He has held committee positions on the Bairnsdale Chamber of Commerce, held a board position as treasurer with Lakes and Wilderness Tourism Association and was founding president of the former Bairnsdale Business & Tourism Association.

A father of three, he has been formally recognised by Tennis Victoria for his service to tennis.

Our Project Officer


Margaret Down

Margaret Down moved to Bairnsdale in 1974.

She has four adult children, 3 girls and 1 boy, and 5 grandchildren.

Margaret met and married Peter at St. John’s Anglican Church in 1982 and has been a committed member at St John’s Anglican Church since then.

She caught the vision of a Rehab Centre in this area after visiting Odyssey House with Peter on 6 May 2016.

It has been an exciting journey with enthusiastic support shown by the whole community and particularly those closely involved on the Board Executive during the Centre’s incubation period.

Retired Board Committee Members

Adrian Jackson (January 2017)

Rod Parker (October 2017)

Donna McDonald (March 2018)

David Pollard (August 2018)