ODYSSEY HOUSE VICTORIA: Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment, Training & Support

Dr Nigel A Dick

Founding Patron & Director, Emeritus

Dr Nigel A Dick AM, MA, Hon D Comm (RMIT) FAIA, FAID (ret) SFDCA (dip)

A founding board member of Odyssey House Victoria, and instrumental in the program coming to Victoria. He is also a life member of a number of charities. Nigel Dick was chairman of Odyssey Victoria for 18 of the first 32 years of its existence. He was Chief Executive and a director of GTV9, TCN9, and the Broadcasting Corporation of New Zealand, Director of TV and Radio, HWT Limited, Executive Chairman of HSV7 and Southern Cross Communications and a past Chairman and President of the RACV and a member of a number of public company boards. Nigel received the Prime Minister’s 2007 Award for Excellence and Outstanding Contribution in Drug and Alcohol Endeavours, and in 2010 was the Victorian Senior Australian of the Year, principally for his work with Odyssey House Victoria. Nigel believes, ‘My greatest reward is seeing so many young people re-united with their families, becoming responsible and loving parents and re-entering society as tax-paying citizens.’

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.