We regularly receive testimonials, letters of thanks and life stories from clients and their families (…sometimes years after they have completed the program) giving us feedback on how the South Pacific Private programs have affected their lives.

Read about one man’s story with the 12 steps and one man's personal recovery story.

We have included some of these here to give you some insight into the journeys experienced by previous patients.

Feedback from clients who have attended the Primary Program

To the team at SPP, It is a year to the day since I made my way through the front doors of South Pacific. ‘Expect a miracle’ was written in the foyer and not for a second did I believe that was a possibility. If anything, I was comforted by the fact that I would at least have clean sheets and steady meals each day. I must admit that I’m still overwhelmed at how significant a change my life has had. You see, I have come to realise that the world is bigger than the one inside my head. Thinking back now, it’s frightening to come to terms with what I had accepted as my ‘Norm’. The best way I could begin to describe it is complete and utter mental anguish. I was so brittle and desolate; I genuinely believed that things couldn’t get any better; that my existence then was so final. But I am here to tell you that this is a place far removed from my existence today.  

Imagine just for a second the real possibility that despite whatever it is that you’re dealing with, that things can get better… I found this to be quite hard. Which is why it was important for me to place faith and trust in something greater than myself. South Pacific proved to be that first step into the world of recovery and I have never looked back. I put this down to the fact that I entertained the idea of surrendering the life that I was living. I had my doubts of course but despite those, I copped it on the chin and was honest with myself. I believe that is one of the keys to wellness; being honest with yourself. This along with commitment, being open and trusting the process were all essential for my recovery.

I can sit here today with the knowledge and assurance that there is absolutely no nagging thought or doubt that hasn’t been thought before. I don’t entertain them today because my thoughts are not who I am. In fact, quite often my efforts to quash how terrible I was feeling actually made things worse! I’m not saying that my life is without it’s challenges but what I am saying is that I am living proof that South Pacific changed my life unimaginably for the better. I can say that I love my recovery and that I love myself. I have accomplished the unthinkable in the past year and that is something no one can every take away from me; bar myself. This is why it’s important to keep making moves because I remind myself all the time that this isn’t a practice run!

I could write for hours about the specifics of where I was a year ago, and the steps I took to get to where I am today but what’s most important is that I live a day at a time. Staying connected to South Pacific via the outpatient program was also a game changer. I have done the work – I don’t believe I have been more committed to anything than I have been to my recovery. You can learn to live comfortably in your own skin. The joy and love I feel today was worth every step I took to get here. Place your doubts on the words I have written here because this works; you may just not know it yet.

God bless, Chris

Dear SPP,

This week I celebrated being clean for One Year. I wanted to get in touch with you because SPP has played an integral role in my recovery journey. When I came back in February I was in a critical stage in my recovery, my mental health had taken a huge dive and my life was ruled by fear. It took everything I had to come back through those doors and every day since then I have been so grateful for the strength I found to work the program.

My three weeks at SPP challenged me in so many ways, as uncomfortable as I felt holding up the magnifying glass to my life and behaviours the program  and my time there was such a beautiful experience. And the work doesn’t stop once you finish the three weeks, I feel blessed to have walked away with so many tools and amazing advice from SPP that I apply to my life on a daily basis.

This past year has been challenging, overwhelming and revealing. Some days have been better than others but I get up every day, I make my bed and I front up to life without needing a drug to do so. I don’t hate myself today, I have stronger boundaries and finally a real sense of balance in my life. My family and I have grown closer and I’m chasing goals that I have run away from for too long because I didn’t believe I deserved them.

SPP helped me to find my strength and to accept myself as I am, I’m not perfect I make mistakes but being able to live my life with freedom, choice and love is an absolute gift so thank you for that. Thank you for all that you do for people, you are an incredible establishment and a wonderful group of people.


Dear SPP,

I felt the need to thank you for my entire experience at South Pacific, and particularly express my gratitude for allowing me to remain in treatment and coordinate attendance for my mother and father at Family Week.

By allowing me to stay, and introducing my parents to recovery – you and your team at SPP have been a key element to MY recovery. The domino effect of the effort you went to support me and show compassion and forgiveness just keeps on going.

I kept on relapsing and was starting to lose hope, I didn't think I would ever get AA. But I kept on going and AA got me. I am currently 8 months sober, and the gifts and blessings that are starting to flow into my life (and the lives of my family members) astound me.

Thank you so much. You will never know how grateful I am for you and your team at South Pacific Private.


Dear SPP,

I have often thought of how much my time at South Pacific Private has changed my life.  Thank you all so much, you really do give people an amazing gift. It takes a miracle to make one. You're all miracles too.


Dear SPP,

This is my story of hope…

I celebrated my 40th birthday this year and it's been almost two years since I've been in South Pacific. I'm proud to say that it's also been that amount of time since I've had alcohol or an illicit substance in my blood. 

I was very much a party girl in my teens and throughout my twenties; a binge drinker to blackout from the very beginning. I took pride in being able to drink with the boys and keep up, often continuing when most others had stopped. I worked my way through most of the recreational and harder drugs on the market and by the time I turned 32, I was tired and miserable; my body was tired, my health was deteriorating and I wasn't enjoying life. I wanted out. After a suicide attempt and a psychiatric hospitalisation I began seeing a psychiatrist who, conveniently, specialised in drugs & alcohol. I was only beginning to realise that I had a problem with alcohol even though it had become my primary food group. Battles with my meth addiction brought me to the brink of suicide again. I was miserable and desperate. I had a gaping hole of emptiness within me but no answers on how to fill it.

Substance abuse plagued my life for a few more years. I lost my licence for a year in 2010. My boyfriend at the time said to me with exasperation "can't you see that alcohol has been a part of every bad thing that has happened to you in your life?" (and a lot had). I hadn't seen the connection before but that simple statement rang true for me. Around that time I decided I would "cut down" and my attempts at controlling my drinking began–only there was never "just one" on social occasions. Just like any addictive substance I'd put into my system, my "one" would always turn into the unstoppable. I used to have more liquor in my espresso than coffee. I began making excuses such as needing to stay back at work late or claiming that I missed the train. Those hours that passed most evenings while I was missing dinner with my family were instead spent at the bar on the corner opposite the train station.

By the age of 37 that relationship had dissolved and his parting words were "why don't you go to AA?" I wasn't ready to but those words planted a seed. Things got worse for me, my shameful drunken antics hit a new low and by 2013 I knew I needed help. I also knew I needed more than a band aid treatment of simply being admitted for a period of time until the cravings passed. I needed to get to the core of what was driving this. I found South Pacific through Google and learned about the programs offered. I submitted my interest via the online form and was admitted on a Monday, the day after my 38th birthday. The sun was shining amongst soft white clouds on this beautiful autumn day only I was too sick and hung over to appreciate it. As the taxi turned the corner into Curl Curl and I looked out over the crystal blue ocean I had a wave of gratitude (and mild nausea) flow over me.

The programs and workshops offered throughout the day gave me a lot of insight into what was going on for me behaviourally. I also had the opportunity to heal some pretty dark trauma through the Changes program. As part of the weekly schedule, there was a bus that also took a group of us on weekly outings to AA & NA meetings. I followed timidly along but with a mind open enough to remain curious, though doubting this was for me. During my very first meeting, a neatly dressed woman of around my age was asked to share. She told the group what I needed to hear. The next meeting I went to, the same thing happened only from a different member. Time and time again, I heard something that resonated with me and the foundation of my recovery was laid. I was ready to start going to meetings when I returned home to Melbourne and found comfort in having somewhere to go. I wasn't alone in this battle anymore. I had hope. That wasn't to be my last stint in rehab. It took one more vicious 3-month relapse cycle of drugs and alcohol before I was desperate enough to do whatever it took to commit to my recovery. It was an easy decision for me to return to South Pacific even though it meant travelling interstate. By this point, I was termed a "chronic relapser" and after another 4 weeks, this time over Christmas and New Year’s Eve, I was advised by my group therapist that I should consider going to a long-term rehab centre. Logistically I wasn't able to, so I made the commitment to myself to immerse myself in my local NA and AA groups.

Today I shared my 12th step with my sponsor. I can't describe in words how wonderful that feels. My heart feels full. It was a process that took me two years to get through; little by little, step by step. But I made it and I don't mind that it took me that long because it was all that I was able to do.

The skills I learned in South Pacific groups have strengthened my recovery as well as my relationships as they've enabled me to have difficult conversations and express boundaries in a healthier way. Sometimes I still ask my partner if I can "share a level" with him and it immediately diffuses the intensity of what I'm about to say. Because, let's face it, it's a weird question to ask but it highlights that I've got something going on for me that I have no other way of communicating and he respects that.   

Having the 12 steps to work through gave me a rope to cling to when in early recovery I couldn't see my way through the darkness. It gave me a sense of continually moving forward, even incrementally, and something to return to when my recovery felt stagnant. It helped me to learn and practice some new principles in my life and I began to accept myself as I am in all of my imperfections. And now that I have completed my step work to the best of my ability, it doesn't feel like the end of something. Instead, I feel like I have a whole new set of guiding principles in my life. They all make sense now. At the beginning none of it did.

So, when my sponsor asked me today "why was an NA member able to reach me in a way that no one else ever had?" This was my answer: because they knew my pain. They understood the despair and misery that comes with using and they had found a way through it. Those that reached out to me had achieved recovery in their lives as a result of working the steps. I saw they were able to live and function in life; often representing the type of person I wanted to be. They gave me hope. 

People who come to the rooms of AA & NA have the gift of compassion and understanding. We’ve experienced desperation and can relate to those who are suffering. Not only do we understand, but we have walked the journey as have many before us. This program allows us to have a sliver of hope for something better in our lives. It gives us something to trust in when we've never been able to trust before after everything else has failed. It helps us feel less like a failure and more like valuable and lovable human being in a desperate situation. 

The rooms of AA and NA provide an anchor for me that I've never previously had and a sense of belonging. Somewhere.  Finally. These are the gifts of recovery I've received as a result of first making the decision to go to South Pacific.


Dear SPP,

I can't thank SPP enough for what it and its staff have done for me personally and I will never forget it. For feedback's sake I think the biggest thing for me post SPP was having my bottom lines clear; not to enter a gaming area and to turn the tv over or onto mute when gambling was being advertised. After dealing with personal issues and this post SPP it has resulted in not a single dollar being gambled, new job promotion, purchase of a unit, healthy relationships, and happiness.


Dear SPP,

I went to SPP several times in the 1990s when it was quite new. The first time was for nearly three months because I was so low and broken that I needed to be there until I could stand on my feet again. I hit a really tough spot recently, after years of intense giving and caring and grief and trauma and … It was such a profound healing experience being there for the three weeks. Just as important for me are the two days a week where I go back and continue the healing, as well as the different twelve step groups I go to almost every day to continue the healing. I hadn't realised that my present and future could be bright again, given all that I have lived with and struggled with and the constant challenges. It's like I've been given a new life.

Lorraine's integrity as a cofounder and executive in the hospital is amazing…She did a talk when I was in the hospital and I gave her a note of appreciation and a personal thanks. South Pacific Private has saved my life and given me new life again. I am deeply appreciative. Thanks for sharing what I wrote and contacting me.

Graeme F

Dear SPP,  

After a month of getting to know you the time has come that I must say goodbye. When I arrived all I wanted to do was leave and now I don’t want to go. We have been through so much together, the laughs, the tears and the fears. I have never felt so safe and so intimate. You know everything about me and can still look me in the eye and tell me you’re proud. I will miss the hard beds, the table tennis games, the dolphin awards and most of all the people. I appreciate you for giving me the space to be me and to accept my past. You have helped me to connect with my inner child and to have healthy boundaries internally and externally. I have found my strength and now know I am not alone. I wish you didn’t have such amazing staff as it would make it a lot easier to leave but I wouldn't have it any other way. I will truly miss your community and how honest and open they all are. The acceptance and encouragement from all of them is something I will treasure for the rest of my life. SPP you have helped me become the woman I am today and for that I am eternally grateful.

Much love! The perfectly imperfect, 


To all the Staff at SPP!

Thank you so very much for the support and kindness which was given to me during my stay. I would love to write a card to each and every one of you – but will accept I am writing to all of you in fear of missing someone out. Each staff member here has been a huge part of my recovery and will be remembered fondly forever!

Thank you so much for never giving up on me and guiding me in the right direction. Many thanks and much love,


To the SPP Team,

In recent times I was close to the edge of breaking down really bad after intense years, then hellish months late last year with too many deaths, near deaths and tragedies – then six weeks a couple of months ago of facing nearly losing my mother twice. Little did my friends know that within weeks I would be in a private psych hospital / healing centre and community and leading up to that I would be fighting my own deep struggles to hang in until I could get the treatment and healing I needed.

Just over three weeks ago, I went into South Pacific Private hospital on Sydney's Northern Beaches for their 21 day holistic healing journey – along with about 35 others finding healing and new life in their brokenness from depression and anxiety, codependency, alcoholism and other chemical addictions, gambling, eating disorders, relationship traumas, and other symptoms of woundedness. The team don't just treat these symptoms, but work collaboratively with us clients (as both individuals and a community) and the professionals to help heal some of the deep wounds and the ways we have learned to deal with them and to survive that ultimately haven't worked.

As well as getting my own healing and learning and relearning new ways to do emotions, thinking and action, I was privileged to hear the stories and struggles of people's lives. Often things they had never or rarely talked about to anyone. A place to develop deep empathy, compassion and understanding. I treasure the learning and insights I gained about humans and humanity, and life when the sharing is raw and authentic.

I'm out now, and for the next few months go back two days a week, as well as participate in other healing experiences and groups as I make the transition back to the outside world.

It was refreshing to be away from all outside stimuli, society, busyness, activities, triggers and electronics. Letting the rest of the world pass on by while we had a time to just focus on ourselves and have thoughts and feelings come up to deal with and heal without having anything (even coffee or sugar or chocolate or high carb foods) to distract from them or numb them.

While not always easy, and sometimes very challenging (most seemed to have a time or more when the strong impulse was to bail), it was a very meaningful, beautiful and enriching time. I feel much more alive than I've been for a long long time. So much happened and so few words here to describe the experience. I jokingly call it the South Pacific Healing Resort and Emotional Rollercoaster Theme Park!

One of the aspects I appreciate a lot about SPP is that it's not a bunch of individuals getting therapy. The program and experience intentionally is designed around creating a safe, healing community which in itself is a big part of the healing that takes place. In most ways it hardly feels like a hospital. Mental illness and struggling with addictions are very lonely and the loneliness and isolating and withdrawing make things worse. Loving, support community done in healthy ways helps to break that cycle helps to carry us and give us strength to go into the brighter future that we deserve. "I can't. We can." Was a slogan I heard there that resonates with me.

It wasn't just about having time out to refresh and renew and then going on with life just like before, as beneficial as those were, because aspects of how we have done life and thinking and feeling and relating are what brought us to this place. For me, decades of them. As with people with addictions, my recovery is a lifelong journey. Relapsing and going back to the old ways are no fun. As I well know.

My life is enriched. My compassion and empathy have increased. My understanding of self, others and life has grown even more. I have been in a holistic place and experience that saved my life 19 years ago and again now.

The pain of living was intense and the lights in my mind and future had just about gone out. But now the sun is shining again in my heart, soul, mind and future. It doesn't mean all the storms have passed. Both life and the weather have them! It doesn't mean I'm all better. But I'm moving from surviving to thriving, and rebuilding. I am blessed and have deep gratitude – including to you my family, friends and encouragers.


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Feedback from clients who have attended the one week Changes Program

“What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly”.

This quote, a reflection of transformation through the rare experience of challenged success. My words could not express what you and the program has done for me. Today I find myself in use of the many skills and tools learnt from teachings inspired by you. I will forever be thankful for the support, spirit and guidance you and the program has shown me.

Love and Best Wishes, Lisa

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Feedback from family members who have attended the Family Program to support their loved one in treatment

Dear Maria,

We would like to thank you for this past amazing program. Your generosity of spirit and ability to foster a safe environment, created a space for us to re-evaluate our individual selves – responsibility and help us break down some walls to look at our own needs. Thank you for being so present in the moment and listening to our stories with warmth and compassion and openness. Your love shines through and is an inspiration to continue our growth. You are for us the right teacher at the right time and we thank the universe for the opportunity to receive this gift.

With love, joy and hope,
Sisley and Graeme

Testimonial from member of the Consumer and Carer Committee: read in full about their experience of the Family Program.

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