Skip to main content

Media Releases

Showing 10 of 21

  • Seabreezes and Bonville – New Mid North Coast Respite Units for people with disability now open

    Not-for-profit disability services organisation, Ability Options has successfully re-opened their Seabreezes and Bonville Respite Units in Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour, following COVID-19 challenges of 2020 which led to an unforeseen year-long closure without Respite Services in the area.  

    Respite Services provide short-term accommodation for people with disability and their carers to relax, or simply take a short break. This is either a planned holiday, or simply somewhere to stay for people to take time away from daily routines.

    A stay in Respite can range from overnight to a few weeks and the benefits are well documented for both carers and the person receiving Respite care.  

    Ability Options Respite Client Liaison Officer, Samantha Hannon added that “The health and wellbeing of disability carers is of the utmost importance. A break from regular duties allows for continued, sustained involvement of carers in the lives of their loved one. It also allows their loved ones’ independent space in a new comfortable environment with the support they require from experienced and welcoming support workers”

    All Seabreezes and Bonville staff are trained and experienced in supporting people with disability. This support includes epilepsy management, medication management, enteral feeding, manual handling, positive behaviour support, First Aid, and CPR.

    Seabreezes and Bonville are spacious, fully accessible, 5-bedroom, purpose-built homes offering people with disability a chance to relax in a comfortable and safe environment, with the option of exploring somewhere new if they choose. Residents can also meet and socialise with people of similar interests.
    Both units have a soft fall play area, outdoor BBQ, picnic area and a fully equipped kitchen.

    Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour’s range of activities includes visiting local beaches, fishing, whale-watching, exploring on rainforest walks, visiting North Coast Botanic Garden, Big Banana Fun Park, Timbertown, Cowarra Dam, markets, cinemas, and restaurants.

    Funded by the NDIS, Short Term Respite Accommodation is available under Line Item 01_058_0115_1_1 of the NDIS Price Guide. This covers the cost of care for up to 14 days at a time. Those supported by the NDIS are advised to look for ‘STA and Assistance (Inc. Respite)’ in the NDIS Support Catalogue if they’re unsure whether STA/Respite falls under their plan.

    For further information; Samantha Fenton, Senior Marketing and Communications Manager

    Direct: 02 8884 9274
    Mobile: 0488 299 081



  • Ability Options partners with Evolve Communities to deliver a Cultural Training Program to all 1,150 Employees

    Ability Options, a not-for-profit services organisation, recognises the importance of National Reconciliation Week and the steps we as a community should take to understand the issues face by First Nations people through their Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). A Stretch RAP consists of elements that allow workplaces to build strong relationships, respect and opportunities within your organisation and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

    As part of that ongoing commitment to reconciliation Ability Option’s is pleased to announce its partnership with Evolve Communities, a Cultural Awareness Training Group to deliver an extensive Cultural Awareness Program to be delivered to all 1150 employees. 

    The 7 Steps Cultural Training program will roll out in two phases over the next two years.

    In embedding reconciliation initiatives such as these, Ability Options highlights the importance of maintaining workplaces of diversity, inclusion, and cultural understanding through relevant staff training.

    Ability Options CEO, Julia Squire, commented: “Our Stretch RAP is an important part of meeting our Mission. It has advanced and will continue to advance inclusion and reconciliation within our organisation and our wider communities. A partnership with Evolve Communities to deliver cultural awareness training to all our Ability Options staff will assist all my colleagues in developing a cultural understanding of community and make Ability Options an even stronger organisation as a result.

    The role of Evolve Communities will be to provide guidance, mentoring and training around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and culture, enhancing the progress of Ability Options Reconciliation Action Plan which was established in 2016. As a majority-owned Indigenous business, certified by Supply Nation, Evolve Communities provide wisdom of Indigenous cultures which hold the keys to solving a broader range of problems in business, in society and globally.

    We are so thrilled to partner with Ability Options who have impressed us with their deep commitment to reconciliation and understanding of allyship” - Ms Aunty Munya Andrews said.

    Evolve Communities Co-Director, Carla Rogers agrees: “At Evolve, we are passionate about creating a kinder and more inclusive Australia. This takes the 97% of the population like me who aren’t Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander to step up. Ability Options are providing their staff with the knowledge and skills to be allies.

    In totality, this is in-line with the Ability Options’ vision to inspire and lead communities, and mission to support people to achieve their aspirations and inclusion in the community.

    For further information; Samantha Fenton, Senior Marketing and Communications Manager
    Direct: 02 8884 9274
    Mobile: 0488 299 081



  • NDIS Participant fights for improvements in support to young people at Aged Care Royal Commission

    James Nutt was severely injured at age 19 in a serious assault leaving him with a significant disability. James was forced into Aged Care services for several years as a young man because other services weren’t available. It took him 14 years to find suitable services and accommodation with Summer Foundation supported by Ability Options. 

    James believes it was imperative for him to appear before the commission to present his story. He stated, 

    “I believe every Australian should have choice, control and independence to make our decisions. I want everyone to know my story as it should not happen to anyone else”. 

    James has made massive efforts supported by his service provider Ability Options to submit a statement to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and he has travelled from Newcastle to Melbourne to tell his story in person, supported by two Disability Support Workers.

    “The teams from Ability Options and Summer Foundation have really supported James to ensure his story is heard and to change services for the better” said Julia Squire CEO Ability Options

    Danielle Hazelwood, Manager – Support Coordination at Ability Options, said
    “James is really passionate about appearing before the Royal Commission, so we contributed by proving supports to James to travel to Melbourne from his home in Belmont. It took us about 20-25 hours of coordination hours to plan the logistics.  The main focus was to ensure flights and accommodation were suitable for James’ complex support needs and for him to have the support of the Disability Support Workers he has chosen.

    James’ story could help change services for people with a disability forever and we are proud to be part of his efforts. He’s a very determined gentleman and we are doing everything we can to help. The Commission has also been fabulous in enabling James to be there in person”

    Julia Squire added " Even though James’ flights, transfers and accommodation have been taken care of by the Royal commission, he has had to dip into his NDIS funding for the additional hours required for support coordination as well as, two 24/7 support workers for the visit. This means that the appearance in Melbourne at the Royal Commission has been a direct cost to James personally. We hope this can be addressed and also by the Royal Commission into Violence Abuse and Neglect in Disability to help everyone who wishes to tell their story”

    Contact Sam Fenton for more information or interviews

    Direct: 02 8884 9274
    Mobile: 0488 299 081



  • Olympus Solutions awarded ParentsNext contracts

    Brenda Odewahn, CEO of Olympus Solutions is pleased to announce that Olympus Solutions have been awarded ParentsNext contracts from the Department of Jobs and Small Business. The new contracts will be delivered in four employment regions from July 1 2018.

    The four new contracts will see Olympus Solutions, the employment division of Ability Options, extend their existing ParentsNext service from three sites and one outreach on the Central Coast NSW to offering the service across the Hunter, Sydney North & West, Greater Western Sydney and Sydney South West.

    ParentsNext providers work with eligible parents to help set education and employment goals, develop a pathway to achieve their goals and link them to services and activities in the local community.

    Brenda Odewhan, CEO said of the service which has been delivered by Olympus Solutions on the Central Coast since 2016, “Its a pro-active initiative where we have seen parents, who were previously relatively disengaged from support, linked to support services and community amenities they didn’t know existed and are now accessing to benefit both themselves and their children” Said Brenda

    “A recent example of this was a young parent, Kadee whose goal was to become a police officer. Kadee didn’t finish her HSC, so thought her career goal was unattainable. By linking with the ParentsNext service, Kadee was informed of the DALE Program that operates from the Better future Hub at Wyong. Kadee enrolled to undertake her HSC and accessed the onsite crèche to enable her to attend classes.”

    “We have many more success stories with people such as Kadee who have benefited from the service. I know our dedicated ParentsNext team is very much looking forward to supporting more parents to realise their goals for further education, training and personal development to achieve their long term goal of employment” concluded Brenda.

    For further information contact:
    Samantha Fenton - Marketing and Communications Manager
    Tel: (02) 8884 9274 or 0488 299 081

  • Nambucca Valley disAbility Services Integrates with Ability Options

    In preparation for National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Mid North Coast rollout from 1st July 2017

    Leading Disability Service Provider Ability Options announced that Nambucca Valley disAbility Services (NVdS) has integrated with their organisation.

    CEO of Ability Options Fred Van Steel announced the integration following a meeting with the NVdS board and management.

    Maureen Rahman, CEO of Nambucca Valley disAbility Services said “The integration with Ability Options will allow NVdS to tap into Ability Options’ proven experience in the NDIS trial sites in the Hunter and Nepean Blue Mountains”

    “As the Mid North Coast prepares for the Rollout of the NDIS from 1st July 2017, we will work alongside Ability Options to ensure Nambucca Valley disAbility Services and our Clients are NDIS ready. This includes working closely with our Clients and Families on their individual requirements and needs.”

    The National Disability Insurance Scheme will roll out in the Mid North Coast from July 2017. The Mid North Coast district covers the local government areas of Bellingen, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, Nambucca and Port Macquarie-Hastings.

    The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) expects 5,800 people in the Mid North Coast to be accessing their supports through the scheme by 30 June 2019. This figure includes an estimated 2,700 eligible participants who will be accessing new funding for the first time.

    The NDIS gives people with disability, their families and carers a chance to advocate for supports that are aligned with their individual goals.

    Mr Fred Van Steel, CEO of Ability Options said “Our extensive experience of working within the NDIS trial sites, where we support over 700 participants, has highlighted the need for smaller providers to adapt their businesses practices to conform to the new model of funding.”

    “We will work closely with NVdS to ensure the transition to the NDIS is as seamless as possible”

    “Nambucca Valley disAbility Services is an outstanding organisation who have been offering disability supports to local people and their families for 27 years. We are honoured to have them join our Ability Options Community”

    Nambucca Valley disAbility Services will continue operating as its own separate entity, supporting local people and their families.

    For further information contact:
    Samantha Fenton – Communications Manager
    Ability Options
    Tel: (02) 8884 9274


  • Manly Sea Eagles host special community day for Ability Options participants

    Manly Warringah Sea Eagles NRL team are hosting a special Community Day in partnership with Ability Options at Manly Warringah’s training ground at North Narrabeen Fitness Centre on Thursday 7 July from 10am-12:30pm

    The Community event will host guests from Ability Options National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) services and the employment division including jobactive and Disability Employment Services (DES) jobseekers. Participants will come together to watch the first grade teams training session and representatives from the NRL Development team will be taking the Ability Options attendees through a special drills session specifically designed to involve everyone attending. Participants will then meet the players and enjoy a special lunch together.

    Mr. Fred J P Van Steel, Chief Executive Officer at Ability Options said this community day is a perfect opportunity to celebrate our community partnership with the Manly Sea Eagles.

    “Our organisations have a strong synergy in community values and I know that our guests are all very excited about taking part in this special community day and will appreciate the opportunity to meet and spend some time with their favourite Manly players ’’ Mr. Van Steel said.

    Manly Sea Eagles CEO Joe Kelly warmly welcomes all Ability Options guests and participants to this exciting event “Ability Options participants have been attending and supporting the team at all of our matches through-out the season and we wanted to give them this special opportunity to meet and spend some time with our players and to thank them for their ongoing support. This event will celebrate our partnership with Ability Options and is focused on the inclusion of all people within our community as well as the importance of good health and well-being,” Mr. Kelly said.

    Read the Manly Daily news article


  • Ability Options join Sea Eagles corporate family

    Manly Warringah Sea Eagles today proudly announced Ability Options as a new Senior Partner of the Club.
    Ability Options support people who need assistance to achieve their goals and aspirations through in-home and every day activities, participating in the community, gaining work experience, employment and specialist allied health.
    A leader in the employment services sector, Ability Options place people in sustainable jobs via Federal Government initiatives including jobactive and Disability Employment Services (DES), Ability Options offer a recruitment service at no cost to employers.
    With a network of more than 48 group homes and offices across NSW, Ability Options opened a new Brookvale employment office in July 2015.
    Ability Options is also a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provider focusing on supporting people to NDIS and turning their NDIS plan into action.
    Mr. Fred J P Van Steel, Chief Executive Officer at Ability Options, said he was delighted with the partnership with the Sea Eagles and having the two organisations working together to the benefit of both organisations members.
    “Ability Options and the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles have a strong synergy in community values and initiatives,’’ Mr. Van Steel said.
    “We are excited to partner with the Sea Eagles as an exclusive and strategic community partnership”
    “We look forward to working with the Sea Eagles in the community to build awareness and assist people to achieve their aspirations and independence through their life journey”
    Sea Eagles CEO Joe Kelly welcomes Ability Options as a Senior Partner of the Club and is looking forward to working together on a number of community focused initiatives.
    “The exciting new partnership with Ability Options is very community focused and we have already held a very productive initial planning session to clearly map out how the partnership will achieve key objectives and benefit the community,” Mr. Kelly said.
    “We are delighted to welcome Ability Options as a Senior Partner of the Sea Eagles.”

    Download Media Release

  • Ability Options Annual Report - a review of 2014-15

    The financial year ended 30 June 2015 has been one of innovation, evolution and expansion for Ability Options. There have been two main focuses – the ongoing success and growth of our services in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) trial site in the Hunter and expansion of our Employment division.
    From our office in Charlestown in the Hunter we were providing support services to 175 NDIS participants by the end of the financial year, with many of these people new to funding. We have worked hard to innovate our service delivery, ensuring we provide choice and individualised supports that fit within the NDIS paradigm.
    We also integrated with Newcastle Temporary Care enabling us to further expand our Hunter region NDIS services to now include family respite and youth activities.
    In December 2014 we participated in the establishment of and became founder members of Olympus Solutions, a national consortium made up of employment service providers and complementary organisations. After much hard work and patience, Olympus Solutions successfully tendered for jobactive which replaces Job Services Australia (JSA). The jobactive contract, which commenced July 1 2015, represents significant growth in our Employment provision and a move into mainstream employment outcomes.
    We recognise and appreciate the dedication and hard work of our employees, who are key to the development of our organisational goals. We also thank all the people we support and their families for their trust, and we are committed to continuing to support those who need assistance to live fulfilling lives and achieve their aspirations.
    For details on new developments and a review of all our services in the 12 months ending June 2015 please view the 2014-15 Annual report. You can visit download a copy or email to request a printed copy.

  • Leading organisations partner in North Queensland, office to be opened by Hon. Coralee O’Rourke, Minister for Disability Services

    In an exciting development for the not-for-profit space, Open Minds Australia and Ability Options have partnered to bring disability, mental health and employment support services to the Townsville, Charters Towers and Palm Island regions of North Queensland.  

    Each year, a staggering 20%, or approximately one in every five Australians, experience a mental illness. Similarly, over four million Australians have some form of disability. With 321,500 people receiving disability support services in 2013-2014 and an annual cost of mental illness in Australia estimated at $20 billion, the Open Minds Australia and Ability Options partnership could not have launched at a better time; providing vital, much needed support in North QLD. 

    To celebrate the partnership, the organisation will hold an official opening at the new office this Thursday 19 November at, 287 Ross River Road, Aitkenvale from 2.30pm-4.00pm.  Opening the office will be guest of honour Hon. Coralee O’Rourke MP, Member for Mundingburra, Minister for Disability Services, Minister for Seniors and Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland. 

    The partnership is timely with the early introduction of NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) trial sites to the Townsville, Charters Towers and Palm Island regions.  Around 1600 people are expected to be eligible for the NDIS in these early transition sites, with up to 600 of these people expected to receive their funded packages by 1 July 2016. The remaining 1000 eligible people from the early transition sites will receive their funded packages from July 2016. The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provides individual support for people living with disability. *

    CEO of Open Minds Australia, Marie Fox, reflects the excitement of both organisations, stating, ‘we are really proud to be partnering with Ability Options, another leader in their field to bring a suite of programs supporting the communities of Townsville, Charters Towers and Palm Island.  Ability Options brings with them a wealth of knowledge and experience, and together Open Minds Australia and Ability Options will offer a really tailored and personalised service where empowerment and independence will be our commitment to our customers.’

    CEO of Ability Options, Fred Van Steel, is thrilled about the opportunities that Ability Options and Opening Minds joining forces will provide individuals around disability, mental health and employment supports in North Queensland and added, ‘Open Minds have a wonderful history of serving the people of Queensland and it is a privilege to be working with them to make a difference in North Queensland. There is a strong synergy between our two organisations and it comes from our passion for supporting all people to live the best life possible. We are also thrilled to be able to share our experiences from our work in the NDIS sites in NSW with the people of North Queensland.’


    Media are welcome to attend the event, please register via the contact points below.   
    Open Minds | Ability Options Launch
    Thursday 19 November at, 287 Ross River Road, Aitkenvale from 2.30pm-4.00pm

    For further information please contact:   Sacha Nielsen, Communications Officer, Open Minds, M 0409 048 554 or
    Shivani Jayasinghe, Marketing Manager, Ability Options, M 0408 214 180

    About Open Minds Australia                                                                               

    Open Minds is a leading not-for-profit organisation with a strong focus on working directly with people to enhance mental health and wellbeing.  The organisation has a long history and was founded as the Queensland Wattle League in 1912.  Over 100 years later, Open Minds has evolved to offer a range of programs and tailored support services focused on the individual needs of each person they support. This includes Lifestyle, Living, Employment and Health Streams. At the heart of what Open Minds does is a commitment to working alongside individuals and focusing on their strengths to enable individual achievement and recovery.

    About Ability Options

    Ability Options provide a range of services that focus on independence, empowerment, meaningful lifestyles and valued roles within community. Ability Options advocate for all people to be included as valued and respected citizens who have unique skills, gifts and personal strengths to contribute to their community and strive to deliver supports and services using a person-centred approach. The organisation aims to meet the needs and wants of each individual person through community services, accommodation, clinical services and employment.
    *Sourced from


  • Ability Options welcomes Newcastle Temporary Care into the fold

    Ability Options expands its offering in the Hunter Region to now include additional services for young people through the integration of Newcastle Temporary Care. Leading Disability Service Provider Ability Options announced today that community-based, not for profit, respite care service Newcastle Temporary Care (NTC) will integrate with Ability Options, effective immediately.

    CEO of Ability Options Fred Van Steel confirmed the integration following an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) of NTC directors and members on Tuesday 12 May, after members voted unanimously in favour.

    “We are honoured to have an organisation such as NTC join our Ability Options ‘family’. The visions, missions and core values of both organisations are so closely aligned, and now together we can assist a larger number of people across a wider demographic to achieve their goals and aspirations for inclusion in the community”, said Fred Van Steel.

    Newcastle Temporary Care will work closely with the Ability Options Charlestown team, who’s dedicated and experienced members work with nearly 200 people in the Hunter Region assisting them to transition seamlessly to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

    “Our experience of working with the NDIS in the Hunter trial site since 2013 has shown us that the landscape of the disability sector is changing dramatically for both people with disability, who now have greater choice and control of their supports, as well as for organisations, which have to operate in a highly competitive arena.”

    “This strategic integration ensures the long term sustainability of NTC, whilst allowing Ability Options to expand its operations in the Hunter Region, filling a gap in our ‘Client Life-Stages’ strategy which will now include respite and support to families”, concluded Mr Van Steel.

    NTC will continue to offer the suite of services currently accessed by over 250 people in the Lake Macquarie and Newcastle Local Government Areas and will also retain its much respected brand identity.

    Former Chair of Newcastle Temporary Care, Brett Walker, supported the integration into Ability Options and said, “This is a positive outcome for the people we support, their families, caregivers and our employees.  It will allow NTC to continue to offer our much needed services with the added benefit of being able to tap into Ability Options’ experience and resources.” 

    About Ability Options
    Since 1976, Ability Options has been the best option for people who require assistance to achieve their aspirations and inclusion in the community, as we deliver life-changing solutions that truly assist the individual. We offer people a personalised solution to achieve both short and long term goals which enhance their lives and allow them to be more independent and engaged with the community.

    Our services are grouped into four main divisions - Accommodation & Supported Living, Employment Services, Community & Lifestyle and NDIS Services. 

    Ability Options is a strong and vibrant organisation with almost 600 people currently working with us across all of our divisions. Our Head Office is based in Bella Vista in Sydney and we have 11 sites across North and Western Sydney as well as an office in the Hunter Region and are currently expanding our operations into the Central Coast.
    About Newcastle Temporary Care
    Newcastle Temporary Care Ltd is a community-based, not-for-profit respite and out of hours care service for children and young adults with a disability and their carers and families, who live in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie local government areas. It was established in 1978 and has grown to provide a large range of flexible programs and support to local families of children and young adults with a disability. 

Stay in Touch

Subscribe to keep up to date on what the team at Ability Options are up to.

Connect with us

Join our conversation on our social channels

Accreditations & Affiliations