The Windana Therapeutic Community (Pakenham, VIC)

Windana Therapeutic Community

The Windana Therapeutic Community (Pakenham, VIC) community offers living and learning situations for residents to develop increased well-being and self awareness.

Each person is involved in a holistic program that includes domestic and work routines; individual and group counselling, physical fitness and recreational activities.

Health and well-being is improved with the assistance of health education, diet and nutrition; naturopathic consultation and remedies.


Individual spirituality can be explored through meditation and reflection if a resident so chooses.

Residents live in self contained houses in a campus style setting on a 40 acre farm, and interact as a whole community to practice responding constructively to personal and social situations.

The community supports each of its members to actively participate in achieving their own treatment plans, developing a sense of belonging to a community that promotes longer term sustainable change.

The Program Includes

  • Medical and nursing management
  • Case management & support services
  • Complementary therapies-naturopath,
    naturopath, yoga, mindfulness groups
  • Exercise and recreation
  • Individual counselling and group work
    including art therapy, nutrition, relapse
    prevention, harm minimisation and
    stress management
  • Slow-Stream Pharmacotherapy reduction
    from suboxone & methadone is available

Smoking is currently allowed in restricted
outside areas.

Maximum Number of Residents: 45

Age Range : 18 Years +

Approximate Payment: 80% Centrelink (Or $300.00 A week)

Length of Stay: 6 months

Types of Treatment: Alcohol/Drugs

Specialised Pharmacological Withdrawal Treatment (Up to 10 Weeks)

The Windana Therapeutic Community (Pakenham, VIC)


PO Box 372, St Kilda, 3182

88 Alma Road, St Kilda, 3182

P: (03) 9529 7955

P: (03) 59423200

F: (03) 9521 3581

E: [email protected]



If any information is inaccurate please contact here.

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6 thoughts on “The Windana Therapeutic Community (Pakenham, VIC)”

  1. By far the best place I’ve been too to help with my addiction Windana is a life saving therapeutic community I learnt coping strategies and managed my behaviours I’m nearly 2 years clean and I have my family back this is the hardest program but by far the best I highly recommend it to anyone who is struggling with there addiction

  2. I felt lied to regarding the brochure saying it was a 6 month program, not to mention the lies the intake worker told me about the conditions regarding living standards, (you share 3 people to a bedroom) up to 15 people in the house I was put in. It was extremely difficult, there is absolutely minimal time to rest, your day starts from 6.30am sharp and concludes after 8.30pm. I lasted 3 months and had to leave as I wasn’t given the opportunity to organise my own supported accomodation or life after the program. They expected me to complete at least 14 months which was way beyond my plans. I have successfully remained sober and will do so by my own means with other support networks. This program may help some but during my 3 month stay I saw it destroy alot of people and make them worse with the strict entrapment aspect. Be wary.

  3. It seems that after my stay here, the whole TC paradigm that staff push here is bullshit. Slave labor. Staff prop up their own salary. In my total 8 month stay I didn’t get one session with a one to one counsellor. Dr John is a farse – the worst possible GP an addict could want. I self dis-charged and thank god, if I stayed longer I’d be dead, sureley. Their success rate is about 5 patients per thousand. Do Not go here. Fuckers.

  4. This is a lovely place that seems 2 work 4 alot of people. Very structured
    . A bit robotic.
    More information about the program needed prior to entering
    Not gr8 if u need counselling.
    Run by the residents
    ..probably geared for the younger pple
    A 1 fits all place with overly punitive rules.
    It needs better communication between the detox and tc
    Windana detox . No coffee
    Windana tc. Drink as much coffee as u want.
    If you have any injuries or mental health issues. Not the right place to go.
    I discharged after 2 days.

  5. I’ve been considering my 6 month stay at the Maryknoll farm for some time now. Having gone in with some prior “therapeutic community” experience (Odyssey House Victoria planned exit, WHOS Hunter Valley / Sydney graduate), I have a yardstick to compare the program to.

    Windana TC Maryknoll was both the best all-round TC I’d been to, while at the same time the TC with the most potential for improvement.

    What made it the best? The grounds, the “wholistic” approach, the balance between regimen and freedom, the compassionate approach that was also firm when it needed to be. Working in the garden was actually a pleasure, and the animals too. There was something really amazing about that environment that made it a pleasure to live in. Learning to live without added sugar also provided me with a breakthrough in my mental-health treatment, but that’s another story.

    At the same time I believe Windana to be lacking in an area that is important for a TC to function as it should. There was a fundamental gap, or a lack of communication, between senior residents and staff, or a lack of staff with enough time or willingness to spend time with and actually listen to the community at all levels. A few times this actually came to the point where community safety took a hit because some residents’ antisocial behaviour was allowed to snowball until an incident occurred, and discharges happened. If there was more awareness of what was going on, I don’t think it would have gotten to this stage.

    I’ll provide some examples of some things that ordinarily wouldn’t go under the radar within a functioning TC, but did in Windana:

    – The job-function roster being used as a weapon. I noticed this a few times, where the co-ord would keep putting those he/she had a resentment on more wash and serve shifts, while giving those he/she liked (romantically) a free pass.

    – A fraction of what was going on in the community would ever be brought up in the handover process. The process focused on individuals in the community, with little empasis on unhealthy dynamics, cliques, conflict and relationships forming in the community.

    – Senior residents getting resentful when held accountable, and hounding or getting revenge on those who do so, to the point where nobody in the community was willing to hold them accountable for anything. There were seniors who had been there over a year with barely 4 pages of awarenesses because the community knew if they dared, they’d be paying for it in some way. This allowed the seniors to be loose around the community and role-model poorly.

    – Threats of violence within staff led conflict resolutions, that didn’t result in any consequences. Death stares and intimidating posturing within assertion groups that weren’t followed up by staff.

    – More romantic relationships forming than other facilities, yet no condoms to be found in most of the houses. If it can’t be stopped (and it never can even in the best rehabs), there should at least be condoms available.

    – When I came off pharmacotherapy, I lost over 10kgs in a month from lack of appetite and nobody (not even I at the time because of no scales anywhere) noticed. I do wonder if the TC had enough staff for the size of the community, or paid more attention, I might have been referred to the doctor and given a medication review, and that medication review might have led me to stay rather than being spun out the door from the psychiatric effects of pharmaco withdrawal.

    – A high-school popularity contest vibe, where people who are more liked within the community by peers, whether for good or bad reasons, were allowed to get away with more than others. Other TC’s at least attempt to keep this in check as you’d hear staff repeatedly bring up the notion that “everybody has earned their beds equally”. A peer was allowed to develop so many romantic relationships that when he was eventually discharged, three women and one male were literally in tears at their planned exit.

    – Bullying within the community. There was a particular member of the community who was bullied in house 3 to the point where I saw one of the more popular, and more troubled peers, would pin him on the ground, push his face into the carpet, get on top of him and simulate a sexual on him. It was bullying, even straight up sexual assault. Everyone in the house knew it. The resident did get discharged in the end for holding a boiling hot kettle over someone’s head, but staff and management agreed with the bully that what he was doing up to that point was just “messing around”.

    – Staff allowing process to be weaponised with the justification that residents will get growth from the process.

    After I left Windana, I found out that there was a previous staff member (Dave Scott) who had left due to ill health, and was left to keep these kinds of things in check. He had his “finger on the pulse” of the community, and thus his departure left a bit of a vacuum. I understand that, and this can happen in any community, workplace etc.

    However this shows that the problem can be fixed if there was two or three staff who got out there a bit more, took up the slack a bit. Addicts in early recovery are hard work, and it shouldn’t be up to one person or they’ll burn out and leave. At least one of them should have enough lived experience to be able to identify the signs of when there’s a dark-cloud over the community, and signs there’s some rot somewhere (bullying, standover, cliques) that’s put a spanner in the works of the TC machine, and address it.

    I don’t wanna be written off as just another “unhappy punter”, because I’m not. The 6 months I spent there were still fantastic. I’m clean today, and in my own flat, and studying and working thanks to Windana. And for that I’m incredibly grateful. The time I was there, I feel Windana was a rehab that was 70% there, while the 30% that was lacking is so easily fixed it was a bit frustrating to live among. Just a couple of perceptive staff roaming the community with open ears and eyes, and a tweak here and there, and there’s no reason the cogs of Windana’s TC be working as they could be 24/7/365.

    Thank you Windana.

  6. Reading over my review I feel that perhaps my use of dot points made my review seem more negative than intended. This wasn’t what I wanted. So here’s an addendum.

    – The Windana environment fosters a sense of care and compassion in the community where even the toughest of street and jail hardened souls could learn to accept and express love.

    – The focus on health and diet and lifestyle balance leaves many other facilities in the dust.

    – Staff genuinely care. None are jaded, or just there for a pay check. They actually want to see the residents succeed. I personally miss the connection I had with some of the staff there.

    – There’s something spiritually rejuvenating about the place.

    – Most of the issues I mentioned in my previous review could be put down to the facility being in a state of transition, going from a small facility of 30 people to taking on nearly 3 times that, without processes having a chance to catch up.. Apparently the place runs much better now the processes and facilities have grown into their new numbers.

    – Windana is the best therapeutic community I’ve come across. I sincerely hope it doesn’t lose any of its heart and soul as it grows into its bigger boots. But more beds mean more people can have their lives transformed by the place.

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