A journey over 60 years
In the 1950s, parents of children with intellectual disabilities were advised that the only place in society for their children was in an institution. Keen to create opportunities for her child who had an intellectual disability, young Balgowlah mother Hazel Whiddon placed an advertisement in the Manly Daily seeking like-minded parents who also had children with a disability.
No-one dreamed such a simple act would plant the seed for what is now one of the top five disability service providers in NSW. Hazel's advertisement inspired a group of parents with the common goal of training and educating their children and others with intellectual disabilities. The efforts of these parents over the years started The Sunnyfield School in 1965. This was the first school of its type to be recognised by the Department of Education.
Subsequently, in 1973 the Department built and staffed the Fisher Road School in Dee Why. The same parents prompted the government to provide living accommodation and teaching facilities suitable for people with disabilities. Today, Sunnyfield provides over 900 services a week for thousands of people with disabilities. This is our journey...
- The Sunnyfield Association was formed.
- A Crown Grant of 5 acres of land was acquired at Allambie Heights.
- First Hostel built and opened for 27 people.
- The formation of the Adult Training Centre.
- The building of Trevor Whiddon House for additional residents.
- Start of the Fun Club - now the Social Club which continues to operate.
- The Adult Training Centre declared a sheltered workshop and extensions commenced.
- 1.6 acres added to land at Allambie Heights.
- Additions to workshop at Allambie Heights.
- Hostel opened for 11 people and 29 people later.
- 90 Residents on site accommodated at Allambie Heights.
- 12 people in Community Houses on Northern Beaches.
- 62 Residents on site at Allambie Heights.
- 46 Residents in Community houses on Northern Beaches.
- 3 Residents supported as required in their own units.
- Reconditioned the first hostel.
- Community Services commenced in Northern Sydney.
- Outreach Programs started across Northern Sydney.
- Post School Options programs began.
- Some people who were assessed as not having their needs met by employment resulted in the commencement of our Gateway Community Access Program.
- Sunnyfield developed a 5 year strategic plan that has seen major capital campaign projects commence.
- Community Services commenced in New England.
- Modern 2000m² factory built at Allambie Heights with funds from The Independence Fund.
- Four houses purchased.
- Community Services spread across Sydney.
- Accommodation Services spread across Sydney.
- Both Accommodation and Community Services begin servicing NSW Central Coast.
- Chatswood Industries workshop acquired.
- Sharpro Industries workshops (Homebush) acquired.
- Additional land acquired for residential village.
- Restructure of the Independence Fund for investment.
- Rebranded the image of the organisation to better engage corporate partners.
- Purchased 3 additional homes.
- Committed to Person-Centred Planning across the organisation.
- National competency Staff Traineeships launched.
- Launch 20 Year Strategy for Person-Centred Planning.
- Support the National Disability Insurance Scheme initiative.
- Launch new interactive website and social media activity to present a more professional image and spread the Sunnyfield message across geographic boundaries online.