Stories & Achievements

Memories are Precious – A story from Elizabeth and Lissy

At ConnectAbility there is a lot that we do as part of our work that involves more than just going to the park, participating in a social activity or supporting someone with shopping. A long time Connectability participant is the delightful Elizabeth from Port Stephens. Her mother passed away two years ago and she is buried at the Kurri Kurri cemetery. I asked her one day “if there was one thing she would really like to do what would that be”. She replied ” To see the grave of my mother, father and two brothers”

We all agreed that her request be fulfilled so at the end of last year her dream was realised. Her dear friends from Stanford Merthyr organised the cabana and chairs and were there to meet us when we arrived to keep her sun safe on her visit.

This trip meant a lot to Elizabeth and it gave her great peace of mind to see her families final resting place. The trip involved the pick up of a van on a Friday afternoon, the drive to Kurri and then returning the van on Sunday afternoon.

For most of us it is hard to comprehend the isolation of people in wheelchairs and when you realise the only way to get anywhere is in a wheelchair taxi where the cost would have been at least $300 to $400. if you live outside of the metropolitan areas.

Connectability is a wonderful supporter of people with a disability. Elizabeth is in the Active Ageing Program so is isolated by her disability, her age and her remote location at Fingal Bay.

it is my pleasure to support this wonderful woman. Lissy

ConnectAbility at Hunter Art Bazaar 2016

ConnectAbility had a stall yesterday at the Hunter Arts Network 2016 Art Bazaar in Lambton Park.

This is our fifth year at the markets and again we had a wonderful day selling items made by our participants. Funds from the sale of goods will be going back to our craft group to support the program for 2017. In this way people are provided with ownership of their activities having choice and control over what they choose to do.

On sale were Christmas baubles, Christmas trees, wreaths and cards. Thank you to all the community who came for a chat or to purchase something. Many were repeat purchasers and it is great to have that community support.

We also want to thank the Hunter Arts Network Team who each year support ConnectAbility (some are in the photos attached). Their inclusion of our organisation alongside some truly talented Hunter artists is a reflection of their committemnt to the promotiion of art and to ensuring that everyone has equal access to the opportunitiy of showcasing your work. We are always made to feel welcome and are already planning projects for 2017.

Wine and Dine for Disability

On wednesday 12 October the Commonwealth Bank supported the inaugural Wine and Dine for Disability Fundraiser.

The fundraising event was held at the old church – 48 Watt Street (who kindly donated the venue and some of the drinks)

Four of Newcastles top chefs – Andy Wright – The Cellar, Mark Hosie – Rustica, Chris Thornton – Restaurant Mason & Tom Robinson – ex Bacchus, and just about to be at an exciting new venue donated their time to cook a fantastic meal that was enjoyed by over 100 generous corporate and community members. Tullochs and deiuliis wineries were on hand to provide wine matching that enhanced the experience for diners.

Over $12,000.00 was raised on the night which will go a long way in assisting ConnectAbility to enhance programs and ensure local people with a disability are able to get out into their communities.

We are very grateful to all who were involved on the night and especially to Colin Law, Danielle McCosker and their Commonwealth Bank Team who ensured that this event was a success on the night and have committed to an even bigger event in 2017.

A big thank you to all who attended. We would love to see you again in 2017.

(Photography donated from YCM Photography)

You can pack a whole load of fun into a day

Yesterday was spent enjoying the beautiful spring weather and a day of fun and actiivity.

People visited the Mattara Festival and spent hours enjoying the rides, activities and catching up with celebrities such as Elmo and Big Dog.

The drumming classes facilitated by Benjie Williams were a hit with the group who learnt new skills and found hidden talents

They then went on to a round or two of Putt Putt golf to complete the day.

Christmas Windows Displays

Newcastle NOW have organised for windows in the CBD to be decorated by local artists to beautify, lift the spirit and draw people to the city. So far there are approx. 60 artists are involved. ConnectAbility artists are excited to have been chosen to join the event.

The ConnectAbility Christmas window is owned by Napoli Restaurant and the window design was created in partnership with the owner and staff of Napoli Restaurant, located in King street, just down from the Tower Cinemas.

Our artists wanted to incorporate themes from the Napoli restaurant into the window and have developed a baroque Christmas Dining scene where the guests are able to take in the art works amongst the ornate setting.

Our art facilitator Susan Porteous has been working with individuals during 2014 on a range of projects and some of the works are displayed in the window. These include Mosaic pots, paintings and drawings and ceramic decorations.

It is lit at night by fairy lights and is lovely to look at. There is a window walk planned for 4.12.14 through Newcastle NOW where you can view all the windows, or we would love you to pop in during the day/evening and look at the achievements of our artists.

Owner Alfonso and the Napoli staff have been welcoming and supportive of the project. Alfonso was on hand last night as we turned on the lights for the first time.

Pass on this event to your friends as the windows are definitely worth a visit.

christmas windows displays

Thank you to the Rural Fire Service

On Friday our friends from the Rural Fire Service Mulbring Unit came across to ConnectAbility to let us all know what to do in the event of a fire, show us the equipment they use and to give us a chance to have a hands on experience.

Captain Scott Callan and fire-fighters Scott and Andrew helped everyone understand how each piece of equipment was used. The demonstration with the hoses was especially well received.

While it all sounds like great fun, and it was, we are all grateful for the education provided that might one day protect us all. For some of our participants being comfortable and familiar with the work of our emergency services professionals can make a difference in how they respond in an emergency.

It is also great to collaborate,work with, support and be supported by another community service organisation. They freely gave their time to ConnectAbility as one of our partner organisations to ensure positive outcomes within their community.

Dane Tobias – Solo Art Exhibition

In Suburban Harmony
Thursday 23 October through to 9 November 2014

Dane Tobias is holding his second Art Exhibition in the Newcastle Community Arts Centre, Gallery 2, 246 Parry Street Hamilton East. The gallery is open fro m 12:00noon to 5:00pm daily with the official opening night this Saturday from 5:00 to 7PM

Dane would love to see participants, families and our supporters so that he can show how his artistic talents have developed in the twelve months since his first exhibition.

This collection of works is stronger and shows greater depth, perspective and influence from his time overseas. There are 28 pieces in the collection.

The Newcastle arts community have once again embraced Dane and his exhibition, supporting him as an artist.

ConnectAbility is proud to support Dane and look forward to watching him continue to grow and develop his talent.

Supa Putt Day to Support ConnectAbility a Great Success

Our thanks to Kerry Houghton from Jims Carpet Cleaning and Lisa Croese of LC Interior Design. Kerry donated a sponsors day at Supa Putt Newcastle and together Kerry & Lisa made the day a huge success. A total of nearly $800.00 was raised

Both Kerry & Lisa attend a Business Networking International (BNI) group made up of individual business owners who also turned out on the day to support ConnectAbility. The BNI team support each other to make their businesses stronger, viable, and connected to their communities and wanted to ensure they could do the same for ConnectAbility and our participants and families.

Over 100 people spent a great afternoon sharing a game and bbq lunch including ConnectAbility participants and families all for a gold coin/s.

Kerry, Lisa and the BNI teams organised silent auctions and trophies for the winners of a “Masters” round. Prizes included flowers, boxed wine and chocolates and a dinner for two at a restaurant of their choice donated by Glen Kirkwood Head of BNI. Funds were then donated to ConnectAbility.

Our thanks to the generosity of all who participated including Newcastle Supa Putt, and especially to Kerry and Lisa for all their hard work.

Fittingly it was Kerry & his son who won the trophy in a playoff. Kerry has promised this will be an annual event that will be even bigger in 2015 so he may have more competition next year.

Stevie having a brilliant Day at Springloaded

Stevie spent the day at the trampoline park just enjoying himself. There was plenty of exercise involved but this came second to the joy of learning to jump higher and higher.

Sometimes we just need to have fun.

stevie having a brilliant day at springloaded

Meeting your idol: A goal achieved

We all have people we hope to meet. Not all of us have an opportunity to achieve that goal.

Two ConnectAbility participants, Ryan and Matthew were lucky enough to spend the day at “Summer Bay’ and meet the cast. It was an opportunity to feel a part of a show they feel connected to that provides entertainment and enjoyment. They feel like they know each person at “Summer Bay”

It was a long day with an early start. Both young men were up and ready to leave before most of us were out of bed. They enjoyed watching the filming and will be looking out for “their” episode on television.

The cast were welcoming and gracious with their time given the number of people in attendance.

Ryan and Matthew are pleased to have achieved a dream and we are pleased to have been there with them.

Learning about the Hunter’s history

A group of ConnectAbility participants decided that they needed to learn more about the Hunter and its history. One of the historical sites they asked us to assist them to visit was Old Maitland Gaol.

Everyone enjoyed the tour and learnt something along the way. Did you know the gaol was only closed in 1998 after 150 years. An excellent self guided audio commentary was available and the staff at the information centre were able to answer any questions.

Participants were happy to report no one was detained as they didn’t think the cells were somewhere they wanted to stay for an extended time.

Being able to provide opportunities for people to connect with their communities is a key outcome for ConnectAbility.

Circus Adventure

Josh was keen to visit the Circus when it toured Newcastle, and requested ConnectAbility’s assistance to ensure he saw all the acts he loved.

Helping Josh to achieve his goal was easy and Josh spent an exciting Saturday evening watching the acrobatics, jugglers and the bikes whizzing around.

As a provider ConnectAbility is happy to accommodate requests for support outside traditional hours so that participants can achieve their dreams and aspirations.

Braving the wild

It was a lovely day at the Hunter Wetlands Centre when participants dropped in to see the frogs and snakes on display. Staff were happy to provide educational information and give hands on experiences to all. Josh in particular was happy learn as much as he could about all the animals – even as the snake decided to look at heading towards Josh’s neck.

The group has a new appreciation for the work of the Hunter Wetlands centre following their enjoyable day.

Art Opportunities

Today some of our art participants visited Newcastle Art Gallery to view the works on show and sketch their interpretations of specific works from artists such as Peter Maloney, Michael Parr and Brett McMahon.

It was an excellent opportunity to develop skills and appreciate the different artistic styles. The staff were welcoming and accommodating providing advice and assistance to the emerging artists.

Newcastle Art Gallery also run Art Appreciation classes suitable for everyone in the community, tailoring them to the needs of the group.

Aleesha meets the Knights

Aleesha is a vibrant young lady who enjoys making the most of life. Aleesha has some very specific goals to include being independent and staying fit and healthy. Aleesha is a football fanatic and loves all things football. football related activities are her number 1 goal in the plan that she has created for herself.

Aleesha is well entrenched in the football group that meets each Friday, and a very active participant in the tipping competition held each week during the football season, taking out a prize in 2013.

On Friday 7th February 2014, the group went to watch the Knights train bright and early in the morning. Training began at 7am and Aleesha and her father John enjoyed the activities. To Aleesha’s delight, when training had finished, Aleesha and her Connectability peers were able to join the team to have photos taken and practice some skills.

There could be nothing more exciting for Aleesha to be surrounded by her football legend heroes. This is an example of fulfilling her dream and her goal and of the commitment of the Knights to community inclusion for all people.

The generosity, warmth and good humour of the Knights players and management will be remembered by the ConnectAbility football group for a very long time.

Farewell to ConnectAbility General Manager Karen Stace

On Friday 21 February ConnectAbility participants, families, Committee of Management and staff farewelled General Manager Karen Stace who has resigned her position and moved to our peak body National Disability Services (NDS)

Karen will be assisting organisations transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme and to look at Policy across the sector.

Karen will be missed by ConnectAbility who welcomed her warmth, wit and generous leadership skills. Karen was dedicated to empowering people with a disability to take control of their lives so that they can achieve their goals and aspirations. ConnectAbility is in a strong and viable position with growth potential due to her expertise and vision. These will be big shoes to fill.

Karen was presented with a few small gifts on behalf of all the ConnectAbility family including two paintings completed by ConnectAbility artists Nathan Dunne and Dane Tobias.

We wish her well and look forward to meeting her in her new role.

Patrick and Nathans fishing day


Patrick and Nathan both share a couple of common goals such as keeping fit and also being able to socialise with friends. They came up with an idea of going fishing together. Their ConnectAbility staff assisted in locating the necessary equipment and getting them set up on Redhead Beach. st.

They planned their day, beginning with catching the bait and then set off to the beach. The gentlemen soon grasped the skills of handling the heavy rod and reel. Patrick even caught a fish.

At the end of the day Patrick said “I would love to do this every day”

I think we would all agree that spending a summers day at any beach in Newcastle is something we would all love to do.

Wheelchair rugby league