Impact Report 2021 Articles

A message from Northcott Chairman, Michael Briggs

Thank you for continuing to believe in Northcott’s mission and vision to build an inclusive society where people with disability can live the life they choose. 2021 has been another huge year in the history of Northcott. We have emerged a stronger and even more focused organisation, driven by our purpose to build a more inclusive society for all. Thank you for being part of our journey of inclusion!

As Northcott’s Chairman, I am so proud of how our organisation has delivered on its promise of supporting children and adults with disability to reach their potential, despite the very challenging pandemic we have all faced. Your generosity made a huge difference. Thank you!

Northcott supports people with disability 24/7 delivering essential services. The safety of people with disability, their families and the staff who support them has been paramount. I would like to give a very special mention to all of our frontline staff for their unwavering commitment to providing the highest quality support to people with disability and their families even in the face of intense pressure.

Early in 2021, we were proud to launch Northcott’s second Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) 2020-23, which is focused on improving outcomes and opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We have already made good progress in meeting some of the actions outlined in the RAP, such as making cultural awareness training more accessible for staff and better supporting those staff members who are from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background.

This year we also made a major commitment to addressing accessibility and inclusion within Northcott, with dedicated staff, resources and a mandate for change. This includes improving the way we retain and recruit people with disability to our workforce, as well as better supporting our staff with disability.

I hope you enjoy reading about the many initiatives that happened thanks to your generosity. We thank you all for supporting these critical, life-changing programs.

We are so grateful to have you as part of the Northcott family!

A message from Northcott CEO, Liz Forsyth 

I could not be more proud of Northcott’s achievements in 2021. In the face of a worsening pandemic, we have continued to deliver high-quality services and supports to people with disability. Thank you for walking with us every step of the way to build an inclusive society, where people with disability can live the life they choose. We couldn’t have done it without you all, thank you!

Northcott’s dedicated workforce stepped up to meet the challenges of COVID-19 while supporting not only children and adults with disability but also their families and carers. We have given significant focus to wellbeing especially during the darkest times of the pandemic.

Additionally, we kept moving forward on our key strategic projects that are crucial to Northcott’s future, ensuring our organisation has a stable foundation from which to continue to grow and evolve.

In this second edition of the Donor Impact Report, we showcase the positive difference made by initiatives we have successfully developed and delivered with the support of government or community grant funding. These programs – which include group therapy for children, a creative arts program and work experience initiatives for school leavers – are not funded through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Participating in these types of activities and programs give children and adults with disability the chance to try new experiences outside their comfort zone. This is crucial for building confidence and independence and we couldn’t have done it with you! Thank you all!

Our priorities for 2022 are to keep building on our success, retain the best staff and deliver more flexible, high-quality and efficient services to people with disability. This will enable us to continue to meet their support needs thanks to your generous support, while ensuring our services are accessible to all people with disability throughout NSW and ACT.

Again, thank you for continuing to believe in supporting people with disability. Your generosity has a long-lasting impact!

It takes two to talk!

Kade and his mother Samantha benefited from participating in the evidence-based program It Takes Two To Talk with Northcott Therapy.

The program was made possible thanks to The Profield Foundation. Funding allowed many parents like Samantha to witness a significant difference to their child’s speech and language. It also gave Samantha tips and skills to better support her son’s speech development.

“I feel like it’s a worthy program to do. It really does help a lot and I’ve seen improvements in my son. I’ve had results for myself in regards to calmness and being able to step through the day rather than fight through the day. It’s beneficial – definitely” says Samantha, Kade’s mother.

Thank you for helping children with disability and their families feel wrapped around with care and support

Nine-year-old Noah has been nonverbal since birth. For most of his life, he has communicated using gestures and pointing at picture cards his mother stuck to the back of a door in their house.

However, since learning to use a communication device and with the support of Northcott speech pathology, Noah has been surprising his mother, teachers and everyone with his determination and drive.

“We trialled the communication software LAMP – Language Acquisition through Motor Planning – and Noah started using a device to ask for things he likes. Then we added more vocabulary as he progressed. Noah has definitely found his voice” says Poh Bwee, Northcott Speech Pathologist.

“Noah is evaluated as being very severely developmentally delayed. He is always very energetic, upbeat and happy, but he gets frustrated when he can’t communicate things properly. Having the device has opened my eyes to him being able to learn a lot more. It has helped him to be able to progress a lot faster. I see he definitely has more potential” says Jackie, Noah’s mother.

You helped boost children’s confidence and wellbeing through sport and fun activities – thank you!

Generosity from corporates and donations from our community helped us to provide free, sportsbased activities that enabled children with disability to become confident, competent and caring community members.

You also helped expand Northcott’s vacation care program to allow more primary school-aged children to make friends and have fun.

And your generosity also went towards upgrades to therapy play equipment across many of our sites, ensuring children with disability can:

* participate in sport carnivals
* engage in fun activities
* spend time with friends
* practice introducing themselves
* make new friends
* develop social skills
* build confidence
* learn skills to develop their independence
* have a go at trying to learn new skills.

‘Yes I am a champion’ is what one excited participant yelled after finishing his freestyle race. “My son loves to swim but never showed any interest in joining his school carnival. He gets intimidated, but we look out for Northcott’s carnival every year so he can be proud to compete and win!” says his mother.

With generous support from Western Earthmoving
and many generous donors, our popular and longrunning primary school swimming carnival was held in March 2021.

You helped us address gaps in services for Aboriginal children and their families – thank you!

Thanks to generous support from our longstanding partner The Profield Foundation and other incredible donors, an innovative therapy support model was put in place to address a gap in services for Aboriginal children and their families in Kempsey.

The Northcott team identified a high number of preschool children in need of therapy support in Kempsey - and the lack of local services available to families. Aware of the challenges experienced by Kempsey’s Aboriginal community, the team sought expertise from Northcott’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs Advisor, Kathy McKenzie, and Aboriginal staff from Northcott Ballina to engage in a culturally appropriate way with families.

The team developed a ‘fly-in-fly-out’ model of therapy to ensure the children could get the support they need. Northcott therapists visit Kempsey to assess children and develop therapy plans. The therapists spend a week at the pre-school, conducting assessments and developing individualised therapy plans. After they leave, a locally based allied health assistant, employed by Northcott, delivers each child’s therapy program through weekly, face-to-face sessions conducted at their pre-school. The assistant checks-in weekly with the therapist for support and to report on progress. Once every three months, therapists return to Kempsey to see how the children are progressing.

The model ensures the kids are receiving the therapy they need, without having to travel to another town which is a huge barrier to many families. Many of the children needing support have speech and communication difficulties, trouble concentrating and behavioural challenges, as a result of the trauma they have faced.

“Without philanthropy support, the fly-in-flyout project wouldn’t have been able to get off the ground. We are very grateful for the trust that The Profield Foundation and many generous donors placed in us to address this gap in services in Kempsey. Your generosity will have a long-lasting impact on many children. Because of the success achieved so far, we will soon roll out this innovative model of therapy care across other service areas in need. Thank you!” says Dani, Acting Head of Therapy, Northcott.

You allowed young adults with disability to break barriers and dream big – thank you!


Parents and carers of people with disability are always worried about who will take care of their loved ones once they are no longer able to fulfil this job. The Northcott team supports and encourages young adults to think about moving out of home if or when they are ready. For Kayla, when the time came, Northcott supported her every step of the way.

“My mum and I never thought I was going to move out; it was hard to think about it. It took a long time because we weren’t ready for it,” says Kayla.

“[When I left home] it was hard to separate from mum, but she came to visit me every day the first week. If you want to move out, make sure your heart is ready,” she says.

Kayla is now thinking about how she can give back and positively contribute in her local community.

“I love singing ballads and I also like pop and country music. I’d love to sing at nursing homes, hospitals or schools to inspire inclusion; communicating that you can follow your dream, no matter who you are. It makes me happy to be able to do something and have these plans for the future.”.


Becki is 23-years-old and has autism. She has a bubbly personality and enjoys watching cartoons and creating posters. Like many young adults whose lives were disrupted during the pandemic, Becki was sad and counted the days until lockdown ended.

With support from Northcott, Becki has gained confidence and skills, including how to catch public transport. Thanks to travel training with Northcott, she now knows how to plan her trip, what train to catch and how to top up her Opal card. She feels a huge sense of achievement when she does it on her own. This independence has enabled Becki to get a part-time job in the city.

“I have been attending Northcott in Hornsby for more than five years. Now I work at an accounting firm at Barangaroo which is near Wynyard Station. I catch a Tangara train and I always get in the last carriage. I like talking to people at work and asking them about their birthdays. I do data entry and I enjoy working on my computer,” says Becki.


As a child, Sandra accessed Northcott services. Today she is a Customer Service Consultant with Northcott. She handles enquiries and passionately believes every voice deserves to be heard.

“I chose to work for Northcott to bring my personal knowledge and understanding of disability to a workplace I valued. The support that Northcott gave me was lifechanging. I wanted to give back to an industry which allowed me to become the independent person I am today.

“In my role, I feel like I make a difference in somebody’s day. A friendly listening ear is sometimes all a person needs. It is surprising how much of a difference that makes,” she says.


“My dream job is to work in the music industry. I love singing and performing. Getting a job will be more than just working. It is doing something I love every day. It is keeping me motivated to get out of bed and just keep going,” says Tracey.

Tracey is participating in Northcott’s NEXT (Northcott Experience Tasker) program, which supports young people with disability aged 17-24 to develop important vocational skills through focused networking, training and mentoring opportunities. The pilot program was generously supported by a NSW Government grant and expanded thanks to a Citi Foundation Global Pathways to Progress grant. This funding has enabled Northcott to equip young people, particularly those from under-served communities, with the skills and networks needed to succeed in today’s rapidly changing economy.

I-Art: creating more than art

In the first half of 2021, 25 young adults from Northcott’s Everyday Life Skills programs in Western Sydney took part in I-Art.

This tailored art program offered them the chance to create artworks while participating in workshops, guided learning and social outings. The artists’ favourite creations were publicly exhibited and the artists chose to put almost half of their works on sale.


I-Art enabled the participants to connect with their creative potential and feel a sense of belonging, essential for a healthy productive life. The project supported confidence building, and contributed to greater physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of participants.

Through a series of community based workshops, the participants developed their artistic skills and talent by exploring techniques and mediums.


Northcott Product Designer and organiser of the program, Jewely says: “The most rewarding outcomes for me were the less tangible, very human elements of personal growth. Motivated by a curiosity to participate in something fun, the participants organically built upon their character strengths through the distraction of the creative process.

“A stand-out highlight was the pure awe, appreciation of beauty and perspective the excursions to the art galleries generated.

“I am immensely proud to have been an observer as these individuals flourished and developed in ways that have spilled positively back into everyday life. The excitement and enthusiasm remains well after the exhibition has ended.”


I-Art supported participants to attend group workshops led by art teachers from TAFE NSW, visit two art galleries and choose to take part in organising their very own art exhibition. The aim was to overcome barriers to participation for people with disability.

During the workshops, participants explored a wide range of art mediums from watercolours, acrylics, digital art, sewing, ceramics and photography. Each person was able to explore their own art direction and creativity, while working on up to three artworks throughout the program. To provide inspiration through new experiences, the participants visited exhibitions at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre and Art Gallery of NSW – an experience some participants had never had the opportunity to do before.

Pedalling to greater independence

Thirty-five-year-old Ben hadn’t ridden a bicycle for about 30 years before participating in Northcott’s Wheels4Life program in Tamworth. He’s now riding a two-wheeled bike by himself and feeling more independent!

Wheels4Life is a skills program developed by Northcott to provide people with disability with opportunities to learn and practice cycling skills so they can ride safely on local cycleways and roads. The program also aims to build the confidence of participants and increase their independence.

The 10-week program begins indoors, with participants learning cycle safety rules and riding on stand-still exercise bikes and pedestal bikes. The program then moves outdoors with participants using tandem bikes, trikes and solo bikes – depending on confidence and skill level.

Activities to build skills and confidence include navigating traffic cones and racing each other. The group also spends time at a traffic safety bike path, learning about stop signs and other traffic rules so they can prepare for cycling on bike paths and in the wider community. Participants are supported by a team of support workers and everyone chips in with the setup and pack-up of bikes. Participants unable to ride a bike are encouraged to do the cycling drills in their wheelchairs, use hand cycles, and to take on other roles such as time-keeper, so that everyone feels included.

When he was five years old, Ben fell off his bike and lost all his confidence with cycling. By the end of Wheels4Life, Ben was able to safely and independently ride a two-wheeled bike on a supervised track.

“It was very fun. Riding [the tandem] with [support worker] Georgia was fun. Now I can ride by myself. It was exciting. It made me feel good [to ride by myself]. I want to go places on my bike with my friends. It is fun, you can exercise and go on outings on your bike,” says Ben.

Northcott is grateful to the NSW Government for funding Wheels4Life through the Transport for NSW Transport Access Regional Partnerships Grants Program. This funding helped to cover the costs of new trikes, tandem bikes and two-wheeled bikes, as well as a custom-made trailer used to store and transport the bikes.

Giving Tuesday, you helped us do it again!

Giving Tuesday is fast becoming a staple event in the Northcott calendar. On Tuesday 30 November 2021 you all said “YES!” to celebrating generosity, inclusion and serious fun for young adults with disability.

Giving Tuesday celebrated the International Day of People with Disability and raised funds so young adults can simply have fun after the long months of lockdown. Fun is an essential gateway to learning. The money raised on the day has been allocated to fund sensory resources, outings and recreational activities. Most importantly, some families in need will be offered respite nights for their loved ones so they can experience independence and make new friendships.

A partnership with purpose

JJ Blaiklock, Managing Director of The Baresque Group, is motivated to support people with disability through seeing firsthand the amazing outcomes that come from Northcott’s work.

On a personal level, this has driven JJ to become a Northcott monthly giver. Professionally, he is championing a push within his family-owned public space furniture and interior finishings business, The Baresque Group, to give more and do more for people with disability and Northcott.

Baresque including botton + gardiner is a long-term and much valued corporate partner of Northcott. The company has been supporting Northcott since 2005.

“In terms of the focus our business can give to supporting the community and organisations, Northcott is at the top of our list. Seeing the amazing work done at Northcott over the years has kept us supporting the organisation and people with disability,” JJ says.


Through Baresque, JJ has supported Northcott in many different ways. As a corporate partner, Baresque staff were regular attendees at Northcott’s long-running Cricket Legends lunches. More recently, through an initiative developed by JJ, Baresque now donates to Northcott each Christmas in lieu of giving gifts to clients. The company was also involved in Northcott’s first Giving Day in 2020, helping to raise more than $150,000 for therapy services for children with disability. Baresque was a leading sponsor of our 2021 event.

“We realised so much more could be done for the community by donating the money we would traditionally allocate to client Christmas gifts, to Northcott. It’s been fantastically received by both our clients and our staff,” JJ explains.

"In another initiative, for every photo of their product received from a client, Baresque donates to Northcott – “It’s a marketing initiative, but also a win-win for everyone,” JJ says.

The organisation has also donated custom-made outdoor furniture to Northcott’s Everyday Life Skills program at our Head Office in Parramatta. Design experts from the botton + gardiner side of the business met with people with disability to hear directly from them what they need in an outdoor setting.

“That was a great opportunity for us and our designers to hear firsthand what users liked about our furniture and how it could be improved in the future. It was a great experience for us.

“As a furniture supplier, to see our furniture being used by people with disability is really special. We’ve spent quite a lot of time designing specific furniture and to see those settings being used and enjoyed by those at Northcott is particularly rewarding.”

JJ says he is now exploring other ways his business and staff can make a positive contribution to children and adults with disability supported by Northcott.

“We’re thinking about what’s unique about our business – such as our furniture or wall coverings – and how these products be used for the benefit of the Northcott community.”


In 2021, JJ was lucky to attend Northcott’s I-Art exhibition as one of our valued partners.

“I-Art was a fabulous initiative. I walked away from the event thinking just how amazing Northcott is because of what it does to help people with disability.

“To have an organisation like Northcott be there for people with disability is wonderful. If you can get to a Northcott event, I recommend it. It’s the best way to see the difference Northcott makes.”

Getting hands-on experience while making a difference

An innovative work experience program between Northcott and the School of Business at Western Sydney University (WSU) is benefitting both students and Northcott.

The initiative, which has been running for the past 12 years, provides WSU students with the opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge they learn in class to their own fundraising events they organise for Northcott.

“I am so proud of the students’ achievements and the connection they have developed with Northcott and their local community. It has been an absolute pleasure and privilege to help shape the journey for these students and to watch their confidence and passion for events management and community engagement grow,” says Dr Karina Wardle, Western Sydney University Course Advisor for Hospitality and Sports Management.

Northcott’s Fundraising Manager, Berta is closely involved in supporting the students to learn about fundraising and Northcott.

“Students took the challenge on board and had various out-of-the-box ideas to engage their networks and make the most out of these fundraisers. The funds they raised will be used to support our inclusive carnivals. Huge thanks from all of us at Northcott!” Berta says.

Our Patron

We are proud to have Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of New South Wales, as Northcott’s Vice Regal Patron. Her Excellency shares our commitment to supporting people with disability to live the life they choose.

Thank you to our supporters. We couldn’t make a difference to the lives of people with disability without your support.

Donations from individuals and partners, plus funding from community and government grants help us to provide services and programs that are not covered by NDIS funding. Programs funded through your generosity, such as Wheels4Life, I-Art and many others, give people with disability the chance to take part in activities they may not normally have access to. These
opportunities allow them to grow in confidence, gain more independence and learn new skills.

We give you our heartfelt thanks on behalf of all the children and people with disability and their families you support. Your generosity has touched many lives! Thank you from all of us at Northcott..