We partner with people living with disability to help them achieve their goals and live safe, meaningful lives.

This year we brought all our disability programs under one umbrella allowing stronger governance and support functions.

More than 10 programs and services across the state provide disabled people with specialist accommodation, day-to-day support, respite care, life skills and capacity-building, employment, and assistance to build relationships and take part in community life.

This year saw bittersweet endings and exciting new beginnings, with the NSW Government’s closure of the Ability Links program and the subsequent introduction of our new Access and Inclusion service stream.

We run three specialist accommodation services for people with disability: one in Sydney for teenagers and young adults with complex needs; one in Coonamble for adults who wish to live as independently as possible; and one near Nowra for men with complex needs who are at risk of homelessness.

In total, Supported Independent Living Sydney, Greene Villa in Coonamble and Jim Da Silva Farm in the Shoalhaven have provided a safe home and tailored support for 31 people over the 2019/20 financial year.

One of the most significant challenges we faced in 2019/20 was the Black Summer bushfire crisis. Jim Da Silva Farm provides a rare refuge for men who often feel rejected by the broader community; we cater for men with disability who are also experiencing drug and alcohol issues, mental illness, and emotional disturbances. During the long weeks of fires on the South Coast, this service was forced to move several times to protect the safety of our residents and staff. The men were moved to alternative locations including nearby John Purcell House, a homelessness accommodation centre in Nowra, where they could shelter with minimal disruption to their support structures and routines.

Mary MacKillop Outreach and the onsite Men’s Shed in Sydney’s Inner West, plus the Como Social & Leisure Centre provide important day programs where the Society provides safe and supportive places where people with disability can get out of the house, make friends, and take part in fulfilling activities. These programs are designed to encourage social inclusion, personal growth, and life skills development for participants. Together, these services supported 70 people during the 2019/20 financial year.

Our support coordinators help people to understand the funded services in their NDIS plan and link them up with the right community and government organisations to put their plan in action. We provided 19 people with support coordination services this year.

We also provide emergency accommodation, respite, and outreach services for children with disabilities aged seven to 17. These young people receive social, recreational, and skills-building opportunities, while their carers are given time to rest, recharge and pursue their own interests. These services are offered through homelike environments either in our Society respite unit, in the community or in the family home.


After six years of helping people with disability to connect with their local communities, the Ability Links program ended in October 2019 because of ceased government funding. The Society was the first provider of this NSW Government program, helping people with disability in the Hunter and Central Coast regions to link up with opportunities in their local communities.

From June to October 2019, as this program transitioned out, it was moved into the Information, Linkages and Capacity Building portfolio under the Local Area Coordination directorate. Over this period, our Ability Linkers supported 203 individuals with disability, and assisted 700 community organisations to make accessibility improvements.


In November 2019, we established a new Access and Inclusion team with the goal of building upon what had been achieved through the Ability Links program. Community Linkers work alongside people who wish to build connections and participation within their local community. We have supported 126 people through this reimagined program so far, located all over the state.

We are also working on several community projects such as the well-received Beaches For Everybody project, where Society staff are partnering with local councils to make beaches accessible for people with disabilities. The Escape the Noise project provides free kits to help people with sensory sensitivities to take part in environments which may usually be challenging; and we are providing similar kits for people with vision impairments and for children and young people who get overwhelmed in loud, busy environments.

Our proudest achievement in Access and Inclusion so far has been the release of the Better Access Map, an app and website that provides detailed information on the accessibility of over 800 local venues and businesses throughout the Hunter and Central Coast. Designed in consultation with people living with a disability, we plan to roll out the Better Access Map across other parts of the state, with the hope of extending across Australia.


The Better Access Map app can be downloaded through the App Store and Google Play, or find it online at


Our Assisted Disability Employment (ADE) enterprises provide jobs as well as professional development opportunities for 92 supported employees. Our ADE staff are people living with disability who might otherwise be unable to find employment or meaningful activities outside their home.

At workshops in Stanmore and West Ryde in Sydney, and Coonamble in regional NSW, our supported employees gain income for themselves as well as for our not-for-profit programs through a range of commercial services including mail fulfilment, general packaging, and textile recycling.

Supported staff at Ozanam Industries in Stanmore, one of our workshops offering employment through the Assisted Disability Employment (ADE) enterprise.