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Autumn and Spring Fairs at the New Secret Garden

First Scarecrow Festival at Secret Garden

33 Outback Adventure Camps

Salesforce, Deloitte’s, Rouse Hill Anglican College and The Foundation Project Volunteer Days at the Secret Garden

NWDS Awards Day

Aberdoon Art Show and Fair

Gift Box Road Trips to Central NSW

Café 2753- open more days

ACIS (2018) Certification Audit

Certified as meeting the NDIS Practice Standards

Socialites range of activities expanding


Autumn and Spring Fairs at the New Secret Garden

32 Outback Adventure Camps

Salesforce, Deloitte’s, Rouse Hill Anglican College and The Foundation Project Volunteer Days at the Secret Garden

NWDS Awards Day

Successful ACIS Certification Surveillance Audit

First Aberdoon Art Show and Fair

2 Gift Box Road Trips to Central NSW

Café 2753- open more days


Autumn Fair at the Original Secret Garden

Spring Fair at the New Secret Garden

21 Outback Adventure Camps

Salesforce, Deloitte’s, Rouse Hill Anglican College and The Foundation Project Volunteer Days at the Secret Garden

NWDS Awards Day- 10 years

Transitional Living Sleepovers commenced


Further development of the grounds of Opal Cottage

Gift Box Road Trip to Central NSW

Table of 8’s at Opal and Conie Ave

Café 2753 open on Wednesdays at Secret Garden

Certified to ACIS with areas of excellence noted

RDA Richmond Centre -  RDA well established now


Commenced providing service as a NDIS Provider

Spring Fair and Autumn Fair at the original Secret Garden

First Outback Adventure Camp to Bathurst Races

Successful Awards Day

Carer Huddles across the year

Salesforce, Deloitte’s and Rouse Hill Anglican College Volunteer days at Secret Garden

One Mile Kitchen Dinners


Successful ACIS Certification Surveillance Audit

Pollination Day at the Original Secret Garden- commenced making Bee Hotels

Trustee Dinner

New Opal Building construction finished by Zadro Construction

Shoe Box Road Trip to Central NSW

Table of 8’s each month at Conie Ave and Opal

Horse Power Day


Gemhill Cottage 21st Anniversary

Hope for Homes inaugural Fete was held on 8th November

Cultural Competency Audit completed to assess future training needs

Development of new Opal Cottage at Pound Paddock

Volunteer Morning Tea at Aberdoon House, Rouse Hill during Volunteer Week

Extensive corporate volunteering days throughout the year

Greater community contributions within the HADPAC program

Development of more Outback Adventures for Participants

Increased Leisure Link community connections for Participants

Growth of interest in the Table of 8 programs

Growth of participation in the Post School Options programs

Extensive renovations completed at Lavender Cottage- more accessible and user friendly

Impressive expansion of the Opal Cottage programs

Best Stall Award won by Secret Garden at the Clarendon Collectors Plant Fair

Commencement of Animal Therapy programs

Continued development of New Secret Garden


2014 - 30th Anniversary Year


30th Anniversary Ball held at Castle Hill RSL 

Refurbishment of Buildings - Conie Ave, Lavender Cottage 

Fire water response unit installed at Gemhill Cottage

4 new vehicles purchased - 2 buses, 2 cars

Cultural Audit was completed

Work Health Safety Compliance Audit conducted November - outstanding feedback achieved and bench mark standards

ACIS Audit achieved - re-certification for 3 years

Parklea Markets stall held each Friday - selling mainly NWDS made products

ZEST Awards - NWDS a finalist in 3 categories

  • Out of the Box - access2art
  • Exceptional Project - Outback Adventure Camps
  • Outstanding Voluntary Group - Secret Garden

New Opal Building Richmond - DA completed and finalised. Construction Certificate completed and submitted.

Noppy's Cafe at Aberdoon House Rouse Hill commenced - open to the public used as a training ground for participants, open Wednesdays.

Riding for the Disabled, Richmond set up operating from the New Secret Garden site

Mates Shed set up and fully resourced, operating from the New Secret Garden site at Richmond.



ACMISS Maintenance Audit – completed and achieved

Finalist in the NSW Disability Industry Innovation Awards

Cultural Competency Audit

Introduction of a New “Skills Assessment Centre” staff recruitment approach

Restructured Core Modules and Competency Assessments

Introduced written and on-line assessment of Competency for greater flexibility

Restructure of Management Team

Excellent new Board Strategic Planning- Action Plan approach

Introduction of Ex-Officio to Board Sub-Committee

Development of New UWS Community Corner (including expanded Secret Garden site)

Created a Riding for Disabled Group for commencement in Feb 2014

Installed Coffee shop building onto new Community Corner site

Refurbished gardens and bathrooms at Gemhill Cottage, roof refurbishment underway.

Sod Turning start for Pound Paddock site (New Opal Cottage)

Law Society of NSW chose NWDS as their Charity of Choice for the year

Progress to NSW Finalist in Australian Trainee Awards 

Partnership Award with University of Western Sydney

Finalised Pound Paddock arrangements to enable construction of new Opal Cottage building

Initial table of 8 held



Restructured to 1 Service Manager – Quality Service Manager. Completed the HACC Audit with 100% Outstanding Completion / Competency.

Completed ACIMSS Certification Surveillance Audit

Finalist in the National Disability Services- NSW Disability Innovation Awards in the Leadership in Promoting Community Engagement and Employment Opportunities category

Gardening Australia filmed a television segment focusing on the Secret Garden's Food for Thought program

Hosted a Morning Tea for a carers discussion with the NSW Minister for Ageing and Disability Services Minister Andrew Constance



Sway Fun installed at Lavender Cottage funded by The Fred P Archer Charitable Trust. Liberty Swing installed in Balcombe Heights Estate with funding received from NSW Government through their Community Building Fund. Re-opening of Aberdoon House as historic cottage and increased community links. Lisa Rutkin was awarded a Pride of Workmanship Award through Rotary Club of Winston Hills. James Pettersen was awarded a Pride of Workmanship Award through Rotary Club of Hawkesbury. NWDS received the “Ethics in Business Award” from Rotary Club of Winston Hills. Marianne Dowd was awarded a first place and championship ribbon for her artwork in open company at the Castle Hill Show  in 2011 – a very talented young lady!

Art therapy activity room split into two to create a Meeting Room and PSP Coordinators’ office, providing closer location to LF’s and Roster document.  Meeting room very useful re PCP meetings and excellent addition to the Conie Ave resources. Redevelopment of the Conie Ave backyard to create a sensory walk included landscaping. Conie Ave & LC – new information system for staff, service Users and Carers – a TV in the entrance to display up and coming events and celebrate achievements. Bus parking bay sealed by Council. Conie Ave – Intercom system installed. Gremmo Homes Race Day held in support of NWDS raised in excess of $50,000, which included a matching grant from Macquarie Foundation of $13,407. Advertising sold for NWDS buses as part of race day fund raising. 14 October took responsibility for the Secret Garden service at Richmond. New Board Committee Structure accepted – now 3 Sub-committees. 

  • Compliance & Audit
  • Finance & Risk
  • Governance & Strategy

Employed Self Actualisation Coordinator. Employed Quality Assurance coordinator. Access 2 Art display held at Castle Hill throughout December /January 2012. ACHIEVED CERTIFICATION UNDER ACIMSS – 3 years at this time NWDS is 1 of only 18 organisations to have achieved this status. The Attendant Care Industry Management System Standard (ACIMSS 2008) is the only National quality management standard that specifically addresses the provision of attendant care services which are any paid care or support service provided in a person’s home or community. It has been endorsed by JAS-ANZ (the Joint Accreditation System for Australia and New Zealand) and gives national recognition to a service that achieves Certification by ACIMSS. 

New Life Member David Stephenson



Received community support for the Hawkesbury project in Richmond and celebrated 25th Anniversary Ball in August 2009. Dr Jim Taggart OAM was awarded as our first patron of North West Disability Services. Rouse Hill Town Centre Partnership has helps us to raised $14382. Deborah Mills (CEO) received the Rotary Vocational Excellence Award for District 9680. Debbie Richter, Natalie Shaw and Oscar Pino were awarded Pride of Workmanship Awards in 2010 for their ability to “Do it once, Do it Well” ability in their workplaces. Access 2 Art program 2009, sold 3 paintings with a total return of $760.00. Provide student placement to 13 Medical students from the University of Western Sydney. Reducing our workers Compensation Premiums by $150,000. Established NWDS / Discos held at Castle Hill RSL. Refurbishment of sensory garden at lavender cottage and in Gemhill Cottage has a Gazebo installed with a concrete pathway to enable easy access to this fantastic new Gazebo and garden area.



NWDS Charity Race Day – raised $43,000 providing funds to assist purchase of a Coaster bus for the service. Partnership with North Richmond Community Bank has provided $200,000 and an opportunity to work with the Hawkesbury City Council to develop a purpose built facility for Opal Cottage at Richmond. Access 2 Art 2008 – Sold 5 paintings with a total return of $1,610.00. Approval as a Leisure link, Life Choices, Active Ageing, Teen Time and Flexible Respite Provider. We tendered for Aberdoon House to develop a specialist disability artistic and community service. Introducing the Organic Food Market and engaging with Rouse Hill Town Centre. Funding from DADHC for a new coaster and commuter buses to the value of $66,057.00. Transitioned 3 TTW service users to work. D.A submitted and approved to extend garden areas and build additional activity areas, storage space and decking. 4 selected staff attended the Happiness Conference. Increased community partnerships to develop community contribution volunteering with Bidjiwong Community Nursery – Hills Shire, Eco Garden – Hornsby Shire Council, Easy Care Gardening, Meals on Wheels – Parramatta, Community Radio 2CCR FM, Sydney Water/Streamwatch – Waterwatch program and Bunnings – North Parramatta. 7 Medical student placements from University of Western Sydney. MOW with Parramatta Council received excellent feedback. CEO Judge at Lions Club “Youth of the Year Quest 2009. Reduced our attrition rate from 22% in 2005, 21% in 2006, 19% in 2007 and 18% in 2008 to further reduction of 11% in 2009.



NWDS Charity Race Day raised $58,733 through Races sold $13,500, ticket sales $3150, Raffle $1717, Action $16,050, Silent Action $2876, Balloons 1440 and a matching contribution from Macquarie Group Foundation of $20,000. Funds purchased another Commuter bus for the service. Partnership with North Richmond Community Bank has provided $200,000 and an opportunity to work with the Hawkesbury City Council to develop a purpose built facility for Opal Cottage at Richmond. Access 2 Art 2007 – Sold 5 paintings with a total return of $1,200 Introduction of Service Area Audits across the full organisation has seen continual improvement in all areas. Approval as an Attendant Care Provider in 2007. Uniting Church partnered to run the Coffee Shop at Aberdoon House Funding from DADHC for a new commuter buses for the Opal Cottage Service Transitioned 3 TTW service users to work United Way and QBE develop sensory garden at Lavender. D.A submitted and approved to extend garden areas and build additional access and decking. Introduced Sandplay at Lavender for exploring feelings and behaviours. 4 selected staff attended the Happiness Conference Increased community partnerships to develop community contribution / volunteering MOU with Hawkesbury Council, Peppercorn services, Community Tenancy, NWDS and North Richmond Community Bank to develop a Disability Village project. CEO Judge at Lions Club “Youth of the Year Quest 2008” 25th Feb 2008 Successful in tender for Leisure Link. Supported establishment of Disability professionals NSW Reduced our attrition rate from 22% in 2005, 21% in 2006, 19% in 2007 and down further to 18% in 2008.



Hills Excellence in business Awards- Finalist in staff training and development - Finalist in Overall 10th Anniversary Awards Construction of Gremmo Technology Wing Establishment of Opal Cottage at Richmond. Access 2 Art 2006- sold 5 paintings with $1,000 donated from BHSC for art dev. Introduction of QA Audits across the full organization Donation of paint and labour to RHCC from Hannibal Shabaz. Introduction of Team KPIs Introduction of individual KPIs Approval as a Attendant care provider Gemhill Open Day 2nd Dec 2006 Hero Award for Tom Allanson presented by Wayne Merton at Parliament House Uniting Church Partnered to run coffee shop at Aberdoon House Develop partnership with North Richmond Community Bank (Bendigo Bank) Two new commuter buses for service Developed a Farmyard Project at Mulgrave Transitioned 8 TTW service users to work United way and QBE develop sensory garden at lavender Cottage Introduced Sandplay at Lavender Cottage Completed Staff Advocacy Survey Lauren Abel nominated for Young Women’s Leadership Program 4 selected staff attend Happiness Conference Full Succession Planing implemented June 2006 Increased community partnerships to develop community contribution/volunteering.



Community Participation tenders success –Excellent tender outcomes and approval to now expand the service by up to 500% over the next three years. Winner of the Community Contribution award, finalist in Staff Training and Development and overall Outstanding Business award by Hills Excellence in business. Wonderful support/partnership with Gremmo Homes that has enable the construction of extensions including a Training/Office area, staff room, Store Room, Activity area with a Connecting Hall. Total value would exceed $300,000. Gremmo Homes has made this possible for a fraction of the cost, estimated contribution value to NWDS over $250,000. David and Vicki Cass OH& S Audit- again a community support donated to NWDS by David and Vicki. Audit results were considered outstanding by auditors.



Completed 20 years of service to people with disabilities and community and celebrated at a wonderful evening at the Castle Hill RSL. Completed the final WorkCover Premium Discount Audit (4) and achieve outstanding result again. Stream Watch Project was awarded an environmental award this year for the quality of the training document developed and for our ongoing dedication to this project. Congratulations to Debbie Richter who received Highly Commended Prime Ministers Award for NSW, for her supervision of the Work for The Dole Project. Our professionalisation of the Disability Industry Initiative has seen 73 certificate course undertaken by staff this year and continues to provide development opportunities for staff at NWDS whilst also being adopted across the state by many organizations. Gemhill Cottage has undergone a complete refurbishment and is now fresh and modern with assistance from Christine Jolie from Jolie Interiors who donated her interior design skills and many items to the cottage. A Best Practice in Transition from School to disability services document was completed and has been presented at a state level. NWDS staff have also contributed to the development of Best Practice initiatives in Behaviour support (Cathy Pillars) and transition to work (Lauren Abel) and presented as a state level on the information. In lavender cottage refurbishment has been done with the assistance of Shirley Leech and Bunnings, now the ground looks attractive and more usable. Matthew Towner from Tranquillity Homes installed the new ramp in lavender cottage which greatly assisted our access.



Completing Workcover Premium Discount Audit three providing a 5% discount on premiums. Expanded the PSO/ATLAS program by another 20 individuals Finalised the restructure of the HACC Respite program Drafted plans for construction of staff room, office area and access hall for program areas. Opened Lavender Cottage as a therapeutic and training area Leased and Opened Rouse hill Community Centre Leased and opened Aberdoon House Coffee Shop and Art Gallery Enrolled 43 staff in Traineeships Maintained our commitment and involvement in Work for the Dole Plans have been drawn up for the construction of extensions to the main NWDS building in Baulkham Hills with a staff room, office area and hallway access. Gemhill Cottage has been maintained throughout this year and is expected to need a repaint and general overall in the next 12 months. A cultural diverse workforce representing 24 separate countries.



Completed Workcover Premium discount audit two enabling a 10% discount on premium Expanded ATLAS program service users to a total of 74 Restructured the HACC respite program to out of hour’s service delivery. Completed construction of Training Room and Art Therapy Room Established the first disability steam watch project in Sydney Expanded ATLAS training programs to fully encompass work skills training Develop a range of business enterprises to meet training needs of service users Met 100% occupancy target at Gemhill Cottage Introduced a range of quality assurance documents and systems. Secured funding for two buses and another car. Outstanding successful fund raising evening enable purchase of another bus. Attained 100% target for all eligible staff to gain LR Licence Attained 100% target for all staff to have current 1st Aid certificates Attained 98% completion of Core Modules Established a staff Training and Development Program with outstanding results in tertiary studies. Linked with TAFE to develop a range of training opportunities for staff Embraced the traineeship system and enrolled 40 staff in traineeships Expanded staff numbers to 75 staff. Expanded Work For the Dole to three separate projects. Developed and implemented an excellent range of time saving administrative tasks Successfully tendered for the Rouse Hill Community Centre and Aberdoon House Established the Agency staff Project Reduced the staff turnover at NWDS by 75%.



For SNAG project Castle Hills RSL provide funding of $13,500 for the next three years to continue the extensive compilation of the date base. International day for disability held on the 3rd December 2001 was a resounding success. Conducted of a recreational forum in August 2001. Received funding under the International Year for Volunteers project of $2,025 and held a wonderful volunteer evening in November. Baulkham Hills Lions club developed a partnership with us this year and assisted with our Youth Week International Day and also our Disco evening funded by Baulkham hill Shire Council (funding of $1,000), and also received a donation of $2,000 as a contribution to our service from proceeds of their Christmas raffle. Worked with Riverlink to assist to provide Vacation Care in Oct 2001 and also provided assistance with buses volunteer drivers. Worked in conjunction with the police and community health to present a seminar on 16th Nov 2001 in Crime Prevention Week. Castle Hill RSL gave fund of $3,500 for volunteer Training which provided a wonderful opportunity to develop the skills of our many volunteers. Carer safety workshop conducted on the 18th June provided most informative for carers and provided an excellent opportunity for clarification and questioning. On 14th December we conducted a team building day at lane cove National park. Run a series of training workshop on sexuality, funded by Baulkham Hills Bowling club of $3,000. 44 student placement hosted from different courses, completed a sum of total 4,188 hours. Volunteers contributed 5,084 hours of work Funding was provided through the ATLAS program of $142,000 to expand facilities and purchase an additional bus and car. Over 50% of the staff currently have LR Licence. NWDS underwent HACC Validation in 2002 and passed with a 20/20 score.



Provided quality services in excess of funding Acknowledged to the management committee and service volunteers for their outstanding contribution to the organization Acknowledged and contributed to the excellent local government support of the community Supporting staffs by providing training and positive direction for individual skill development Innovation of new services and have introduced many new initiatives to improve service delivery. NWDS recreational program was established this year Major construction at Gemhill has been completed this year with the assistance of Castle Hill Rotary. Work for the dole project has been Co-ordinated by Debbie Richter who has bought a wealth of experience to the service. NWDS was approved as an accommodation provider in late 2000. NWDS organised a holiday to Brisbane and central NSW. United Way has provided funds for disadvantaged individuals to attend these trips. In addition, they provided $1500 in funding for a Carers Holiday in May this year and they went to Canberra for three days while the individuals with a disability enjoyed a break at Gemhill. Major projects: Introduction of enterprise agreement for staff AGM brought forward due to the Olympics Emergency plans prepared for the Olympic period Involvement in Torch Relay for the Olympic Partial close down of the service to enable full participation at the Olympics. Release of staff to enable them to work at the Olympic Employment of additional Co-ordinator to assist on a number of projects. Purchase of a new commuter for Gemhill Cottage Restructure of PSO Paralympics tickets purchased $2,778. Re assessing of all drivers undertaken by Macquarie Driving School. Extensive renovation at Gemhill Establish a PSO Carers Advisory Meeting Attended PSO/ ATLAS State Conference Review of Policy & Procedures Service Evaluation Questionnaire and Meetings Commencement of SNAG initiative OH & S inclusions in all Commuter buses in service. Application of CIARR Preparation of Minimum Data Set Benchmarking established for PSO/ ATLAS and then circulated state wide. CEO representation on the SEE Foundation Management Committee. Introduction of Carers days and night out Nomination to work for the dole Achievement Awards. Staff team building day 7th Dec excellent day. Review of service Management policies Future Strategic Planning undertaken by Management Committee Program Strategic plans established Met North Training Format Developed and distributed. OH & S Committee meetings and service risk assessment undertaken Numerous funding applications submitted. Service Christmas Party. Staff Christmas party Request for assistance for building alterations at HADPAC Setting goal posts for Baulkham Hills Shire and adoption into community plan Establishing Cumberland Prospect Respite Forum Chair of Met North PSO/ ATLAS forum Representative to ACROD PSO/ATLAS Sub-committee Re printing of the HADPACKER Involved in Rouse Hill Development Committee Involvement in respite cottage for the Hills Area committee Attended ACROD CEO Conference in Canberra Facilitated risk management discussion Mayor’s boards acknowledgement evening at Baulkham Hills Shire SNAG survey and acquisition of support and funding from council. Introduction of staff and volunteer satisfaction survey.



PREMISES WERE EXPANDED, PROVIDING A MUSIC ROOM AND 3 GARAGES. This will allow the old garage to be converted to give more activity space. Vehicles increased to 7, with the purchase of a 4th, 14 seat bus, and the Station wagon was replaced. Expansion of programs and training continued to meet increasing demand and service delivery guidelines. 2792 hours of student placement were provided together with 579 hours under the Community Service Program. Paid staff now 23 full-time and 29 part-time, supported by 46 volunteers, 16 program support workers and 12 Work For The Dole participants. To meet changed staff levels and rostering the premise of North West Respite Service (Gemhill) was extended to give overnight staff accommodation.



With support from the Work For The Dole Program sessional respite sessions were expanded by 33.3 %. Post School Options numbers reached 19 with the necessary extra vehicle and staff expansion. Accommodated respite continued in high demand and emphasised the urgency of providing permanent supported accommodation. 16 group holidays were provided, made possible with the purchase of a luggage trailer, which also allowed more people on each of the holidays. Expanded training program instituted and made available to other like Community Services.



YEAR OF CONSOLIDATION FOR STAFF AND SERVICES following the move to the new premises. A new Toyota Coaster bus was purchased and modified to accommodate wheelchair passengers as necessary, a Ford Station wagon for the Manager and Staff use was purchased. Involvement in the Work For The Dole Program commenced. Support for students on placement continued being accessed by Students in the Community Service Field and Police Cadets. This support provided over 1475 hours. 10 young people were involved in Community Service Programs over 307 hours. Accommodated respite service continues to achieve near 100% occupancy. Funding support was urgently needed to meet waiting lists in all services.



FINALLY WE MOVED INTO OUR NEW PURPOSE BUILT PREMISES. 9 daily sessions provided respite care for people with a range of disabilities. 12 accommodated holidays from 3 to 5 days were provided. One to one Peer Support continued. The Post School Options Program expanded to cover 10 clients. North West Respite Service (Gemhill) achieved 95% to 100% occupancy. Positive feedback was received from reviews by Dept. of Community Services and also from an independent review on behalf of the Motor Accidents Authority. The Association also provided 1703 hours placement for students and 335 hours of community service support.



After protracted submissions over several years funds became available to provide a permanent purpose built facility from which services would operate. This was was occupied in late 1996. Earlier in the year POST SCHOOL OPTIONS service commenced and provided a link, for a young people leaving school, with the general community and facilities offered to assist them in their living needs.



At the Annual General Meeting of the Association it was decided to change the name to more correctly, indicating the geographic area covered by users of the services and also to provide a more typographical acceptable form. At the end of 1995 the Consumer Affairs Department approved the NORTH WEST DISABILITY SERVICES INC, as the new name for the Association.



In March of this year an accommodated respite care service for people with an acquired brain injury was set up. Initially funding was from the Motor Accidents Authority with recurrent funding through the Department of Community Services. This service known as the NORTH WEST RESPITE SERVICE providing up to 4 weeks respite accommodation a year to eligible people and also can provide emergency short term accommodation on demand.



Funding approved for a full time administration officer and also for the establishment of a service for mature aged people with a disability, this service initially on one day a week and now expanded to two days and one evening service.






A new service providing services for people who have an acquired brain injury was established, initially on Saturdays and since expanded a further day service and an evening service.



Funding received for the purchase of a modified Toyota Coaster Bus, to assist clients to access community activities not readily available owing to difficulty in using public transport.



Funding was received for a Community Development Worker and two programmes established: (a) For young adults with an intellectual disability on one evening a week and (b) For young adults with a physical Disability on two days a week. These programmes operated out of the old Council Chambers in Old Northern Road, Castle Hill and became the basis of a major project the “HILLS AREA DISABLED PERSONS ACCESS COALITION (HADPAC).



A survey was carried out, within the Shire, to identify areas of most need, and it was found that young adults with disabilities were receiving the least assistance.



“The International Year of Disabled” In April of this year the Baulkham Hills Shire Council called a public meeting at which a committee was set up to look in to the needs of people with disabilities in the Shire. Initially this was carried out by volunteers, later council gave assistance through their community Worker/Aged Services – Mrs Jeannette Antrum. This committee was called BAULKHAM HILLS SHIRE COMMITTEE for DISABLED PERSONS.