Therapeutic Community

Therapeutic Community 2018-02-15T14:12:45+00:00

Residential Therapeutic Community (TC)

The Buttery conducts a Residential Therapeutic Community (TC), treating adults addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Through this drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation program (drug and alcohol rehab), The Buttery TC is committed to assisting chemically dependent people realise a sense of self worth, nurture the living skills that we take for granted and help them take their place in society with the knowledge that they can choose paths that are not only fulfilling to themselves but to society.

Addiction is not a consequence of choice; recovery is. The means to exercise that choice in early recovery is often dependent on the support of an understanding group of people. The Buttery offers that opportunity via its Therapeutic Community.

The Program

Residents in the Buttery are guided through two programs

Program One

This involves acceptance of the need to enter treatment and pursue an abstinence-based lifestyle. A three-month basic program introduces the individual to the issues underlying their addiction. It also provides a short term basic skills “survival” course. It also helps to identify personal goals.

Program Two

In this three-month program the issues identified by the residents, their peers and their caseworker are explored in greater depth.

Entry to Program Two is dependant on community assessment of the individual’s need, motivation and capacity to continue in the program. There also needs to be acknowledgement by the individual that they need a long-term treatment program and they are committed to seeing it through.

Program Goals

The Buttery’s TC program is based on the understanding that chemically dependant people need treatment to recover from the physical, social, psychological and spiritual effects of their addiction.

We emphasise total abstinence from the addictive behaviour as a condition that fosters recovery and allows the development of a new way of life.

  • Develop an individual long term treatment/recovery plan designed to break the pattern of dependency and denial.
  • Begin and continue total abstinence.
  • Examine and resolve physical, emotional and social problems resulting from, and contributing to, chemical dependency.

MERIT Program – Magistrates’ Early Referral Into Treatment

The MERIT Program is an innovative scheme to refer people facing court with drug-related offences to rehabilitation (rehab) services. It aims to help break the drugs-crime cycle.

The Buttery has beds allocated to this program and to date it has been highly successful, receiving commendations from the courts and police and positive media coverage. Participation in the MERIT Program is voluntary.

Priority admission

Most people undertake The Buttery’s residential rehabilitation program at no direct cost to themselves and contribute 80% of their Centrelink benefits ( e.g. pension or sickness benefits) to cover food and lodging. To avoid being placed on a waiting list for a place (between three and six months) some residents pay an additional amount in addition to  their first three months fees at The Buttery. This gives the resident access to the first available bed. For more information about priority admission, please speak with admissions staff or email:

macCREDIT offers a finance plan which may suit Priority Admission residents. For more information please visit:

or phone macCREDIT: 1300 884 355

Assessment Criteria

Basic requirements for joining the residential rehab program

1. The applicant has a problem drug and/or alcohol using history longer than two years and the problem is not recreational use.
2. The applicant is 20 years of age or older.
3. The applicant is not facing legal proceedings for which his/her stay at The Buttery, or application to come to The Buttery, will be used as a mitigating factor in court proceedings.
4. An assessment shows that the applicant has a personal desire to stop using.
5. Owing to staffing constraints and the demands of the program, we cannot accept people who have major psychiatric conditions.
6. We do not have the facilities to cater for couples or parents with children.
7. The applicant attends The Buttery of their own volition and not as a condition of bail or a bond or other legal or undue familial pressures.
8. Please note The Buttery is a smoke-free environment: no smoking in buildings or in the grounds.


Opportunity for change 

We recognise and accept that few people come to The Buttery brimming with optimism and being highly motivated to spend up to eight months working on themselves. However the Buttery program relies on the individual having a sincere desire to recover.

Change can then be fostered by: developing awareness of inner feelings, needs, conflicts and core beliefs, particularly as they arise in the context of interpersonal relationships.

Learning to manage feelings, get needs met and resolve inner conflicts.


Download a brochure






How to get to The Buttery and what to bring

Assessments and keeping in touch

Once you have had your initial interview with The Buttery, you are required to keep in touch with us each week on a Thursday between 9.00am-1.00pm on 02 6687 2399.

This usually only takes five minutes and provides us with some indication of your motivation and commitment to recovery and allows us to stay current with any changes in your circumstances (such as change of contact details, etc). It also allows us to keep you up to date with your place on the waiting list. We ask that you organize this to be a regular occurrence each week.

If we do not hear from you for three weeks consecutively, then your application will automatically be archived and you will be removed from the waiting list. If you subsequently re-establish contact and provide good reason for failing to stay in touch, we will consider reactivating your application.

Detox cannot be carried out at The Buttery. Any person referred to the Program will need to be drug and alcohol free prior to arrival. This may be achieved by spending time in detox immediately prior to arrival or developing a care plan to ensure the person remains drug and alcohol free (“straight”) prior to arrival.

If you have been asked to provide us with a report from your GP, psychiatrist etc, it is up to you to get this done in a timely manner. The reason for this is that until we receive the requested report your status on the wait list will be labelled as pending. This means that you have not been accepted until we receive the report. It also means that you move nowhere on the list until it has been received. It is in your best interests to get the requested report to us as soon as you can.

Pre-arrival agreement

All residents are asked to be clean and sober for a minimum of four days prior to arrival. Our preferred option is that you come straight from attendance at a detox. If you are not arriving from detox you are then required to provide The Buttery with “clean” urine results. These urines will need to be organized for the Thursday, Friday and Monday before arrival. Once you have arrived on the Tuesday, we will then take another urine sample from you.

It is Buttery policy that all residents make a verbal agreement to remain drug and alcohol free for a minimum of four days before arrival. This also allows us the opportunity to explain more about the program rules and guidelines, what you can and cannot bring with you, and to ascertain when you have last used any substance. It is also to reinforce further your commitment to recovery and minimises the risk of new residents arriving without being fully detoxed.


All residents must have a current Medicare card.
If you do not have a Medicare card please call the Health Insurance Commission on 132 011, ask for your Medicare number and expiry date. Without a Medicare card, the local medical centre is unable to bulk bill and will charge a fee of approximately $45 for a standard appointment and approximately $75 for a double appointment.

Residents in receipt of a Centrelink benefit must have a current Centrelink health care card (or pension card). If you do not have a health care card, you are required to phone or go into your local Centrelink office and obtain a proof of benefits card which has your CRN number and expiry date attached. If you are being breached by Centrelink, you are required to inform The Buttery in your initial assessment as we cannot lift breaches and this will be to your financial detriment, as you may be unable to afford certain items while you are in the Program. The Buttery can however apply to have loan repayments suspended while you are  residing at The Buttery. These will be reinstated on the day of your departure.

On arrival, you will be asked to fill out Centrelink paperwork. This notifies Centrelink of your admission to The Buttery. You will also fill out a nominee form for Centrelink. This enables The Buttery to liaise with Centrelink on your behalf and authorises us to open any mail for you from Centrelink and to receive your payment on your behalf.

One other proof of identity is required for Centrelink purposes: that is a Medicare card, driver’s licence, bank ATM key card, passport etc. The Buttery must be able to prove to Centrelink that you are who you say you are. We have to undertake the same identification “points system” as all other organisations: we need minimum of 100 points of identification.

Board and lodging fees

For board, lodging and a contribution to treatment costs, The Buttery charges all residents 80% of their Centrelink benefit. Some items such as linen may require a deposit (refundable on departure) during a person’s stay.

The balance of a resident’s Centrelink benefit is kept in trust for the individual’s personal expenditure or savings.

Private payment is also accepted. Call us (02 6687 2399) to discuss other fee options.

We ask that all residents arrive with a maximum of two suitcases (or equivalent volume – e.g. two backpacks). There is not a lot of storage space in each bedroom. You will be sharing the bedroom with a member of the same gender.

If you arrive with excess luggage, this does not leave a lot of room for both residents to be comfortable in the same room. Due to the sharing of rooms, you are required to wear pyjamas to bed or some form of sleep clothing is required (e.g. boxer shorts and t-shirt).

Some individual rooms are available as well as shared rooms in the Buttery’s housing at our Binna Burra campus. Men and women share the houses. Shared rooms are only for people of the same gender.

Medication: if you are on prescription medication we ask you to bring all your medication with you and any repeat prescriptions.

Personal contacts: Please be advised that there are rules and guidelines around contact with family members and/or friends.

Visits and phone contact are by an application process through which all residents and case workers have input into helping make the decision about who you would like to have phone or visit you. If it is established by the residents and case workers that it may not be in your best interests at the time to have a visit with the people you would like to phone or have visit you, you will then be supported to not have contact with the person at this stage. It must also be established whether family members or friends want to have contact with you. Phone contacts (if approved) will be limited initially to family members, friends and people within the Twelve-Step Fellowships.

Residents cannot send or receive mail for six weeks after arrival and there is no phone contact or visits until 14-16 weeks into the program. This rule has been established so that you can primarily focus on settling into the program without any “outside” distractions. We will not restrict mail if there is a legal or other significant emergency. If you have broken your agreement upon arrival, your mail and access to other personal items will be delayed by an extra two weeks. If any mail arrives that a case worker deems to be of an urgent nature, the respective case worker will discuss it with you.

There is no access to computers or the internet, so all letters will be handwritten as there is no e-mail access. Residents are asked to have a family member or friend to keep their e-mail accounts activated for them if this is an issue.

Once you have access to your mail, if there is anything sent to you that you are not permitted to have on your person while here (e.g. money, key cards etc.), you will be asked to hand them over to staff for safe keeping in your designated “black box.”

An exception to the “contacts” rule is if there is a young child involved and you have had regular contact with the child before entry to The Buttery. Once you have settled into The Buttery for the first two weeks, you can then speak to your case worker about re-establishing contact with your child/children. It must be agreed that the child will benefit from having contact with you and that you are doing it for the benefit of the child and not for your own sake. You will be able to have a supervised phone call to your child either once a week or once a fortnight.

The amount of contact you have with the child will be discussed with your case worker. Because you are unable to have contact with anyone other than the child, staff will make the initial contact until the child comes to the phone. Phone calls must be made and received out of program time (after 5:30pm) and are limited to 20 minutes.Call costs are managed with a PIN and are billed to your account.

Phone contacts will not be allowed at any stage with anyone who is abusing drugs and/or alcohol. This includes ex-Buttery residents.

Visits in the second stage of the program are confined to family members and close personal friends. Frequency of visits is limited based on discussion with one’s case worker and the community of residents.  They may be scheduled for up to four hours outside of program time (e.g. Sunday afternoons).  Overnight stays are not permitted. Visitors known to be using drugs and/or alcohol recently will not be permitted on Buttery grounds.

Contact restrictions
On admission you have the opportunity to advise staff about contact restrictions you may require. This may include contact with anyone with whom you do not wish to have contact or to enquire about you during your stay. No information will be provided to anyone without your prior consent. It is important that, on arrival, you advise staff of any contact restrictions. At any time throughout their stay, residents also have the opportunity to advise staff of contact restrictions.

If you are having a birthday during your first six weeks at The Buttery, you will be able to have access to a birthday card or parcel if it is labelled “birthday only”. Staff will open the parcel and/or card (while you are present) and check the contents and then hand it over to you. This rule also applies to Christmas packages.

Contacts in emergencies are allowed. If there is an urgent situation that you may need to be informed about  such as family emergencies  you will not be denied access and you will have full use of phone, fax and e-mail.

You are asked to advise family members and/or friends about the above rules. If you have family members and/or friends to whom you are close, you may advise these people that they can phone The Buttery once a fortnight and speak to your case worker. Case workers are available  between 1.30-2pm Tuesday to Friday: phone 02 6687 1111.

Smoke free environment
The Buttery is a smoke-free environment. Smoking is not permitted in Buttery buildings or in the grounds. Buttery residents are able to purchase nicotine patches and  lozenges at The Buttery.

Reading and writing material and personal effects
You will only have access to “self-help” books in your first six weeks. There are no magazines or newspapers available to you throughout your stay. After six weeks, residents have access to novels which may be borrowed from The Buttery library, or you may wish to read books you have bought in with you. If you are waiting in a doctor’s surgery for an appointment, you are permitted to read the magazines available to you at the time. Any writing pads you bring in with you with writing in them will be kept locked away until the day of departure. At any stage you will be able to purchase stationary items.

Photos, music and certain other personal effects will not be available to you until you have been at The Buttery for six weeks. After six weeks, your case worker will have a “booking” with you. In this “booking” you will be able to open your mail, receive your photos etc. You are then able to listen to your own music and read books apart from self-help books. This is a standard rule which applies to all residents so you can settle into the program and not have any “outside” distractions.

Residents are asked not to bring the following items –

  • Stereos or computers including laptops and i-Pads
  • Mp3 players, i-Pods
  • Gym equipment
  • Surfboards, boogie boards
  • Mobile phones
  • Anything of significant value
  • Pornographic material
  • Non-prescribed drugs or alcohol
  • Weapons
  • Food or drinks
  • Tobacco or cigarettes in any form.

For security reasons we request that residents do not bring items of significant monetary value in case of theft.

For any other enquiries please phone administration: 02 6687 1111.

Contacting the Buttery Therapeutic Community

Initial Contact by Telephone
Please phone (02) 6687 2399 between 9.00am to 1.00pm and from 2.00pm to 4.00 pm Fridays only for an assessment interview. This is essential before you can join the rehab program. We are based in NSW, so remember to take this into account during daylight saving months (October to March) if you are phoning from a different time zone: Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania or the Northern Territory.

The assessment and a Potential Resident Application Form is completed by Buttery staff. This usually takes about 20 minutes over the phone.

If the applicant meets the criteria for eligibility and is accepted on the waiting list they are asked to:

1. Maintain weekly contact on a Thursday morning.
2. Establish contact with or seek counselling support from a Community Health Centre drug and alcohol worker or outpatient group facilitator with a view to getting support while waiting for admission. It could be beneficial for a person on the waiting-list for a place in The Buttery’s residential program to undertake a short-term program in the community while on the waiting list.
3. When an arrival date has been set the potential resident needs to get into a detox unit and advise us of their arrival at the unit. All efforts should be made to come from a detox unit as a preferred option. Urinalysis via a GP should only be offered if it becomes impossible to get a bed in the detox unit.

Prior to Entering Detox
The potential resident should have tidied up any domestic affairs, that is: store possessions, let go of rented accommodation etc. Please note public housing tenants should make appropriate arrangements with the housing provider, incluindg obtaininga rent reduction for the time of their absence from their housing.

Arrangements should also have been made to book transport. The preferred route is by plane to Ballina or Coolangatta and arriving Tuesday morning at a time discussed with the Admissions Officer

From Detox
Before leaving confirm arrangements on day of departure.

The agreement to remain drug free on the journey to The Buttery should be made when the person phones on the Thursday before their admission.

Conditions of Agreement:
To remain free from all mood altering drugs including alcohol effective from the date of commitment.
Failure to keep this commitment may result in the resident being denied admission.

Do You Have a Drug or Drinking Problem
Do you have a drinking problem?
If in doubt, the attached ‘Drinkcheck’ form is a widely used self assessment tool to determine if consumption of alcohol is at a harmful or hazardous level.
Download a ‘Drinkcheck’ or a ‘Problem Drug Use Screening Test’ form
or check yourself here…

Full Contact Details

The Buttery
P.O Box 42 Bangalow 2479 NSW Australia.

The Buttery Family Program

The Buttery Family Program is for the family members of people undertaking The Buttery’s residential rehabilitation (rehab) program and for those in contact with The Buttery’s INTRA community outreach program. It offers family members who have an addicted family member or a family member with drug or alcohol abuse issues support, advice and a referral service. It also assists extended family members to gain an understanding of what their loved one may be experiencing in recovery and suggestions about how they may help the process or what they need to be aware of when offering help. The service also operates as a referral source directing family members to places where they may gain additional help in the future.

The Buttery’s Family Program is free of charge. The program is made possible by the generous support of benefactors including the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, The Angel Fund, Milton Corporation Foundation, The Northern Rivers Community Foundation, Portland House Foundation and generous individuals in the community. You are invited to support this program by making a donation. Donations to The Buttery are tax deductible.

Family Brochure.pdf 

The Buttery acknowledges the support of the NSW Ministry of Health and the support of generous donors for the Residential Therapeutic Community Program.


John – counsellor and Buttery graduate

Natasha – Buttery graduate

John – yoga teacher and Buttery graduate