Home » Questions

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions. If you have any more don’t hesitate to contact us.

How long is your waiting list?


The waiting list depends on a number of things:

  • How full we are at the time of applying and being accepted. It is rare we have beds available in a short time;
  • How much information we need to assess someone as suitable for the program. As a guide, people with more complex legal issues and mental health issues will take longer to assess;
  • How motivated someone is to deal with their drug and alcohol problems – we give preference to people to want to be here voluntarily and are keen to deal with their problems;
  • Whether or not someone is referred to us by MERIT or NSW Corrections, who fund some of our beds. If a bed is vacant the wait can be fairly short, subject to our assessment processes. If these beds are full, the wait will be longer.
  • Where someone is from. We generally give priority to Aboriginal men who are from our local area (Lismore, Ballina and Byron LGAs) and identify as being Bundjalung.

As a guide, men who self refer or are referred by a health service will be given priority. Local men with more serious physical health issues are also a priority.

The best thing to do is to read through our eligibility criteria and if suits, apply.

How long is the Gulgihwen Program for Men?


There is no set program length – length of stay is determined by individual circumstances, motivation and the severity of your Substance Use Disorder. Generally younger men require less time. There is a balance between being out of society and re joining it. The average length of stay for mature adults is 12 weeks. There is possibility for extension however residency past 24 weeks (6 months) is limited to severe cases only. There is usually an expectation that Mandated residents (MERIT & TSA) complete 12 weeks.

Do you also take Women?


No. We have plans to open a women’s service in the next few years, but at this stage we only take men.

I am looking for a program for my relative / friend. Can you help?


Many families contact us to learn more about our drug and alcohol healing program for a loved one. Please search these pages to see if your questions can be answered before contacting us. You can help your relative/friend to look at the eligibility criteria and make an application online or you can support him to reach out to a local service who can refer him to us. Please also read the rest of these FAQs to see if/how we can help. Once an application is lodged, it is up to your relative/friend to contact us directly.

Honesty, Confidentiality, Respect, No Violence, Trust, Self Responsibility


Respect, trust, self-responsibility, confidentiality, and honesty are essential elements of our change process. We treat beaches of confidentiality seriously, however, we will share information among the Team and with other professionals with your permission in the interests of your healing. We will advise authorities in respect of child protection and self-harm concerns to meet our legal obligations.

Namatjira Haven is an Aboriginal community-owned and operated organisation providing healing programs for ATSI people. Namatjira Haven is a drug and alcohol, violence and hatred-free site. Please leave these at the gates.

What if I have special needs?


We are limited in our capacity to assist men with very complex needs – in general men need to be able to self-care and mobilize independently. If you have any special needs, please look at the eligibility criteria and discuss with us if you are still unsure whether we can assist.

Can I still be in contact with loved ones while I am a resident?


You can bring a mobile phone for use at set times only. These times will be explained on entry. Messages will be passed on to you through Admin in an Emergency during non mobile phone hours. Family visits can occur every Sunday afternoon and every second Saturday. Visits outside of these times must be pre-approved by senior staff. You can not leave here to visit family or friends in the first 8 weeks. However, you may be given a leave pass on compassionate grounds in a family emergency.

I am on bail or in custody. Is that an obstacle?


If you are on bail or in custody you cannot apply by yourself to come here. You must be referred to us through either theMERIT Program or the TSA Program.  We can not accept an application directly from you where a court, including the Supreme Court, want to bail you direct to us or make going to rehab part of your bail conditions.

I am on probation or parole or a community corrections order. Is that an obstacle?


If you are on probation, parole or a community corrections order you should be referred to us by your Community Corrections Officer. Depending on your circumstances, we may ask your Community Corrections Officer to make the referral through the TSA Program

I am a GP / Social Worker and would like to refer to you.


Please read through the eligibility criteria, download an application pack and fill out the referral form for your client and email or fax it to us. If your client has serious, chronic health issues we suggest you call our Intake Officer to discuss his circumstances before applying.

I am a Solicitor / Legal Worker and would like to refer to you.


If your client has court matters coming up, all court matters should be finalised before your client can come here. The only exception is where the court matters are being dealt with under the MERIT Program. In some cases, depending on the complexity, we will make an exception for Family Court matters where the court matters are being dealt with in our local area.

How many people can stay at the healing centre?


We are funded for 14 beds. With people coming and going we try to have 12 men here at any one time.

Can I do a withdrawal at your centre?


Generally it is required in most cases that you have undertaken a withdrawal from AOD before admission. However, in some limited cases withdrawal can occur here and in some other cases a formal hospital or recognised withdrawal/detox facility withdrawal will be required before admission. There are a number of factors related to the determination of what withdrawal process should or can occur. This matter is discussed during the Assessment process with the Intake officer who will consult our RN in this regards.

How long will I wait after applying before I can come in?


This will depend on your circumstances and how full we are at the time. When you make your first call and we begin assessing your application we can give you a better idea.

What do I need to bring?


You will need to bring your toiletries, including any medications you are currently taking. You may also want to bring some photos and items from home to make you feel comfortable and help you settle in. We can provide all bedding and towels but you can bring your own linen if you prefer or if you want to bring a doona or other personal bed cover. Please do not bring valuables with you as we cannot be responsible for their safety.

What should I wear?


You need to bring enough clothing for up to a 12 week stay – usually 3-4 sets of clothes including some warm clothing, swimmers, work boots, hats or other sun protection You will be expected to dress appropriately for the activities you participate in each day. Some of our activities involve being active, so please bring comfortable clothes that you can move around in. Remember to pack warm clothes for the winter months and cool clothes for the summer. Clothing that advertises or refers to alcohol or drug use or with any offensive or sexist commentary will be allowed.

What if I have to leave early?


No leave is granted before 8 weeks unless for compassionate reasons. If you are on MERIT your court appearances are adjourned until you have finished your program. If you need to leave Namatjira Haven earlier than expected, please discuss this with your Caseworker. We will do our best to support you in transitioning back into the community. You will be asked to leave (evicted) should you breach any Primary rules (strictly no drug and alcohol use and no violence primarily) or for repeated breaches of Secondary rules or if you behave in ways that are contrary to the spirit of Namatjira and to positive community living.



You will have access to shops usually 3 times a week to obtain personal items however you must be aware that our locality does not allow for daily shopping so you must manage your personal needs. You will be responsible for buying your own personal items including toiletries, washing powder, and special food needs or snacks.

Identification and Money Matters


You must have a current bank account, keycard and Medicare card and health care card if you are on benefits. We have no banks in our area and if you regularly put money in another person’s account you will need to set up online banking before entry. See your bank for this.

You should have a MyGov account set up before you arrive. If you are on Centrelink we will arrange with them on your behalf for Centrepay deductions for your rent while you are here.

You must arrive with at least 2 weeks rent in advance to avoid having to make extra rent payments to catch up. If you are living in supported/public housing you must discuss holding your accommodation at a nominal rental with your Accommodation provider prior to entry. There is usually a time limit of how long this can be done for. Your rent and board here is a fixed percentage of your Centrelink benefit payment (or equivalent if you are paying privately) – this pays for your accommodation & food and the (specialized) support provided by staff and visiting service providers.



You are in charge of your own laundry. The Centre has washing machines for your use. On arrival, you will be given laundry detergent. You’ll need to buy additional supplies if necessary. A dryer is available for use in wet weather only

Do I need to be vaccinated to go to your facility?


We are not allowed to discriminate against non-vaccinated people. However, we strongly recommend incoming residents are (fully) vaccinated for Covid 19 and influenza – the closed community here is a high risk environment for transmission. You must disclose any current cold/flu/covid symptoms prior to entry and we may ask you to get PCR tested and show a negative result before coming here. If you acquire Covid 19 during residency you will be isolated from other residents for at least 7 days and you will not be allowed visitors.

Will I be drug tested at Namatjira Haven?


It is a condition of our funding that you will be tested for illicit drug use – usually each 2 weeks on average and we have the ability to do on site testing at any time. All positive drug tests not related to usual reduction in pre admission drugs taken will result in eviction. Generally no drug of addiction will be prescribed by the visiting GP nor will Benzodiazepine hypnotics be allowed or prescribed. Weight loss powders are not allowed and it is strongly suggested you do not use Pre workouts as they have been known to result in positive drug tests for Amphetamines.

Donate Now