From North Rocks to Penrith: A history of SEE Foundation

1990: How SEE Foundation came about

A group of parents and carers, some whose sons, daughters or family members were residents of the Forsight Foundation, attended the North Rocks School for the Blind or lived with them at home, were concerned that the people they loved would have few acceptable options after leaving school. Together they considered a supported employment service – Supported Employment Enterprises (or SEE).

At that time there were no services that met the needs of people with intellectual disabilities, and vision and hearing impairments, requiring such high support requirements. However, a supported employment service was considered unsuitable for people with such significant disabilities so the name – SEE Foundation – was retained and pilot funding was provided for a specialised Community Access Service (CAS).

1994 – 2012: Westmead, Western Sydney

After several moves, the organisation moved to Good Street, Westmead, in 1994. Clients were then spread between Penrith, Glenorie, Yagoona, Greystanes, Baulkham Hills, Quaker’s Hill, Winston Hills, North Rocks, Carlingford and Prospect.

However, the building was far from suitable for the needs of the people using our service – we battled uneven floors and trip hazards, patchy lighting, and poor (or no) access to rooms. The poorly-constructed premises rapidly deteriorated, developing leaking roofs, rotting timbers and sagging ceilings. Rainwater poured dangerously down internal walls, over electrical fittings, and fungus flourished. In December 2007, the Board decided that we should look for an alternative site.

We lobbied hard for the funding and in June 2010 we were finally successful.

 

An extensive search was then conducted in different locations – Pendle Hill, Parramatta, Blacktown, Mount Druitt, Merrylands, Guildford, Windsor, and several at Seven Hills and Penrith. Some of these went very close to happening, with plans drawn up and negotiations underway. But most were no more suitable for our clients than Westmead, largely due to out-dated infrastructure.

We nearly gave up.

2012: York Road, Penrith

Thankfully, we didn’t. Soon after, our existing site in Penrith because available. This site offered the opportunity to create purpose-built premises specifically designed to suit the special needs of our clients. Intense planning ensured we thought through all the challenges – consistent lighting throughout, level floors and no steps, wide entries and doorways, extra-wide corridors, an accessible kitchen designed to accommodate people in wheelchairs at tables and benches, accessible toilets, and more.

In 2011 we began the huge project, which brought with it an entirely new experience for a lot of us. We searched for all sorts of trades, the right fit-out company, worked alongside building certifiers and council authorities to ensure we met all regulations, and began negotiating leases, phones, blinds, furniture, air conditioning, alarms, and so much more.

It all came together. In May 2012, we moved in to the most wonderful building. It’s light, bright, open, airy, clean and everything we dreamt it would be. It’s also everything our clients need.

Keen to check our Penrith premises out? Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like any more information or to organise a tour of our building. As you can tell, we’re rather proud of it! You can also give us a call on (02) 4721 1966 to lock in a date – we’re always happy to put a cuppa on!

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Our people are happier

SEE Foundation is proud in providing services to people with All-Abilities and Support needs.

Through our commitment and focus on the person’s individual and specific needs, we have achieved a record 80% reduction in the distress, agitation and frustration of our clients.

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