Odyssey House Victoria Founder, Nigel Dick retires - A Lifetime of Leadership
He is known as the founding father of Odyssey House in Victoria and, after a lifetime of leadership and service to the organisation he created, Nigel Dick is stepping down.
On discovering that one of his sons was a heroin addict, Nigel decided to do something about it. And do something about it he did. In 1978, Nigel Dick visited Odyssey House in New South Wales with a view to opening a similar organisation in Victoria.
With the tenacity of someone who has worked at the highest levels of the Australian television industry, Nigel formed an Odyssey for Victoria committee. He attracted the active support of some of the state’s and nation’s eminent business, community, sporting and entertainment leaders – golfer Peter Thomson, businessman Sir Rod Carnegie, socialite and fund-raising icon, Lilian Frank, business leader and philanthropist Baillieu Myer and many others.
In 1979 they approached the Victorian Premier, Rupert (Dick) Hamer who provided financial support. The disused seminary at Lower Plenty was acquired and, in July 1980, the doors to Odyssey House Victoria’s Residential Rehabilitation first opened.
This month, 35 years since that journey began; Nigel has stepped down from the Odyssey House Board and handed the baton to his daughter, Deborah. She brings to the Board table her wide experience as a psychiatric nurse.
Nigel’s lifetime contribution was celebrated following his final Board meeting at our Residential Rehabilitation facility. Residents and staff formed a guard of honour and thanked Nigel by applauding him for initiating and establishing Odyssey House as a place to help people with drug and alcohol addiction. Fellow Board members and the 95 residents currently living in Odyssey House joined Nigel for dinner. A cake was prepared specially by the residents. It featured the Odyssey House logo of a sailing ship. Two senior residents gave tributes to Nigel on behalf of all residents, past and current. Nigel was then presented with a quilt; a custom for residents leaving Odyssey House while residents’ children gave Nigel with a book of their hand-drawn pictures.
Odyssey House Chairman, Bruce Hartnett AM, said “It was a fitting tribute given Nigel’s lifetime of contribution to the organisation. We welcome Deborah and know that she will make an enduring commitment as her father did before her.”
Nigel’s outstanding work has been recognised over the years with several major honours. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1994 for “Services to media, in particular television, and the community”. In 2007 he received the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence and Outstanding Contribution in Drug and Alcohol Endeavour, and was named Senior Victorian of the Year in 2010, principally for his work with Odyssey House Victoria.
To honour and acknowledge his legacy, the Board has appointed Nigel an Emeritus Board Director and Founding Patron of Odyssey House Victoria.
Dennis Armfield is our new Odyssey House ambassador!
“My first visit to Odyssey House was amazing,” he said.
“Seeing everyone embrace the different stages of the program and be united as they strive to reach a common goal really showed that with the right help people are able to overcome anything.”
The 27-year-old juggles his professional football career with studying podiatry at Latrobe University.
Despite his heavy training and study commitments Armfield has visited the Odyssey House residential rehabilitation facility on a number of occasions, helping out with the Odyssey Blues football team and in other areas.
“I have had personal experience with addiction through family and friends and it is often the result of one simple misjudgment,” Armfield said.
“More people should be aware of the causes and be prepared to help those affected to overcome their issues. Support can go a long way.
“To have the opportunity to become an Odyssey House ambassador is an absolute privilege and I hope I can help even just one person because every individual is important.”
Born in Canberra, Armfield was raised in Perth and drafted from Swan Districts in the 2007 AFL National Draft. He played his first senior game for Carlton in 2008 and reached the significant 100 game milestone in 2013.
Odyssey House Victoria chief executive officer Dr Stefan Gruenert said he was delighted that Armfield has become an ambassador for the organisation.
“Dennis has been very enthusiastic about helping Odyssey House in any way that he can and we are very appreciative of that,” he said.
“He has shown a real desire to help change public attitudes and reduce the stigma associated with addiction as well as provide support to those in our care. We look forward to a long association with Dennis.”
Ambassadors support the work of Odyssey House in a number of ways and play a role in helping the organisation reduce drug and alcohol use, improve mental health and reconnect people with their family and the community. Read more about Dennis ...
Artwork inspired by Chris Thorne. There are five pillars that are upheld by the residents and staff at Odyssey House Victoria.
This artwork represents counting these pillars on one hand. They are Respect, Concern, Honesty, Trust and Love.
We acknowledge the traditional land owners of Australia and we welcome all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to our service.
Over $200 million has been returned to the community by Odyssey House’s work in reduced health and crime costs alone.