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Sue Hammersley Benefit Concert


The Cyrenian House Sue Hammersley Benefit Concert fundraiser happens this Saturday, November 30, from 4-10pm at Mt Lawley Bowling Club with The Volcanics, The Ghost Hotel, Tenderhooks, The Coal Miner’s Sect and special guests (book through Oztix, Heatseeker and at Planet Video/Mills Records). BOB GORDON chats to Cyrenian House’s Tom Hopkins.

Tell us a bit about the background to Cyrenian House, and the role of Sue Hammersley’s father in founding it?

Cyrenian House was founded by Rick Hammersley in 1981 after one of his daughters died from a an overdose of deloxene and alcohol. It was originally solely a residential rehabilitation facility but has grown immensely over the years.


How has it developed over the years and what does it now provide to those who come to stay?

We now offer services in almost all facets of the community. This includes outpatient counselling and groups, prison counselling and groups, and family and couples’ counselling. We also run the North Metro Community Drug Service which is an integrated service in partnership with Next Step. It offers AOD counselling, pharmacotherapy and community support across the northern corridor of the metropolitan area. In addition we also have a partnership with Milliya Rummurra in Broome and offer counselling and support services throughout the Dampier Peninsula.

Our residential Therapeutic Community (TC) has 40 beds and also includes 14 houses for the Saranna Program which is the only residential alcohol and other drug (AOD) rehab for women and their children in WA. In addition, we are in the process of opening our Saranna Early Childhood Education and Care Centre on the same property. This service is the focus of this fundraising event and is due to open its services to the public in February. We are currently taking enrolments for this state of the art facility and would welcome any enquiries.


What are the main struggles for Cyrenian House?

Cyrenian House like all alcohol and other drug services continually deals with the stigma associated with people who use alcohol and other drugs. We live in a society where alcohol and other drug use is common and where almost all families are affected by someone who has problems in this area and yet people continue to stigmatise those who have experienced problems with these substances. The community needs to share the responsibility of the issues associated with AOD use and treat people who are affected with more dignity and compassion. Staff can also be stigmatised by working in this area.

Continued funding is a big issue for the AOD sector and requires more input and support from the general community.


Cyrenian House doesn’t really have a high profile amongst the wider community. Is this an advantage or disadvantage? Or both? 

It is a disadvantage for all AOD treatment services that we don’t have the profile of some other charitable, not-for-profit organisations. That is why events such as this are so important in raising awareness about what we do and the positive influence we have on the greater community. Raising the profile has the advantage of raising awareness about the benefits of seeking support for AOD related issues and also ensuring the general community takes more ownership of the issue. AOD and related mental health issues are not diminishing, they are increasing and require a multi facetted approach from the community to deal with it.


Sue Hammersley was a force to be reckoned with as a friend and a figure in the WA music scene. How do you remember her and how will she be celebrated with the fundraising gig?

At Cyrenian House we remember Sue as a gutsy and determined young woman who was warm and engaging and would go the extra mile for her friends and colleagues. She had a passion for music and would encourage and mentor young bands early in their careers. She had also suffered a great deal of pain and loss when two her sisters died as a result of alcohol and other drug use and was aware of the pitfalls of AOD use. We will always remember Sue for her infectious laugh and raucous sense of humour. RIP Susy.

Pic: The Volcanics
Pic: Sue Hammersley, RIP

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