Life transformation brings hope to many
17 September 2015
“Mat was amongst the most dangerous people in our nation. Now, he is a genuine asset to our society.” – Craig Stephens, Dooralong manager
Speaking at a Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal launch earlier this year to raise funds and awareness for Salvation Army programs, Mat, who was once seen to be too out of control for even his own tough bikie colleagues, sincerely thanked Salvation Army supporters.
Now dedicated to caring for others, Mat likened that support from donors to a “gift that keeps on giving”.
Having lived a life fuelled by drugs and violence, Mat underwent an amazing turnaround in his life after going through The Salvation Army’s Bridge Program at the Dooralong Transformation Centre on the NSW Central Coast. He went on, after graduation, to receive an Outstanding Achievement Award from Hunter TAFE – after studying business management.
After working and saving, Mat then spent more than two months travelling throughout Asia, speaking and volunteering in prisons, orphanages and churches. Today he continues to share his story to support The Salvation Army.
Mat says his early childhood was happy – his dad was an accountant and his mum, a nurse. At 12, he was diagnosed with an attention deficit disorder and around the same time his parents separated.
Mat was first expelled from school in Year 7, and from age 17, lived a life of drugs, alcohol, extreme violence and imprisonment. For many years, his gun never left his side.
After his father’s sudden death and two unsuccessful attempts at rehab, Mat booked into the Dooralong centre and as well as completing the Bridge Program, “committed his life to Jesus”. He says: “God has made huge changes; amazing changes”.
Dooralong manager Craig Stephens says: “We have three major Australian universities conducting ongoing research into the Bridge Program to ensure the best evidence-based practice is delivered at all times. But most importantly, we are committed to helping even those that other organisations won’t accept into their programs, and this often results in the most breathtaking transformations in the most broken of lives!"
Investing in recovery
The Salvation Army Recovery (addiction) Services help around 3600 people each year, with eight residential “therapeutic communities” (with clients living-in for 8-10 months); three inpatient withdrawal management services; six outclient/ day program services, plus another 75 Salvation Army centres and corps (churches) are supported to provide recovery focused programs.
The Salvation Army has achieved an extensive list of industry recognition awards in the field of recovery services, including: University of Wollongong Vice Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Research Partnership; National AOD Award for Excellence in Treatment and Support; Australasian Therapeutic Community Award for Excellence in Treatment and National AOD Award for Excellence in Research.