Our history

History of Achieve Australia

In 1951 a group of visionary parents wanted a better future for their children with intellectual disability than confining them to institutions so typical of the day. They established the Subnormal Children’s Welfare Association (SCWA) to pioneer housing and accommodation and related services and provide their children with more opportunities to live meaningful lives.

In 1952 Crowle Home for boys and girls with intellectual disability was built on land in Ryde donated by Mr C. Crowle. In 1954 a school was added, which flourished for 26 years.  

The Achieve Australia of today continues to honour the legacy of our founders by striving to bring inclusion to life every day for the people we support. Below are just a few of the many milestones on our journey.

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1950s -1960s

Forging a new path for housing, education, and jobs

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1970s – 1990s

Strengthening bonds with the community

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Elevating voices through partnering and innovation

Our inclusion journey



Crowle Home at Ryde is set up to provide accommodation for girls and boys and a school is added. Mount Own Residential opens in Hornsby as a place for teenage girls and women with intellectual disability. Residents include a lovely young woman, Beris. In 2021, Achieve held a 90th birthday party for Beris who we still support.


We become one of the first organisations to provide housing for people with disability set within the community. New services are also introduced including higher education and employment.


Achieve parents Don and Jo McKerrell start an annual fundraising fabric and needlecraft sale at Crowle Home. The annual event is such a huge hit it eventually becomes 3 stores and warehouse providing supported employment now known as The Sewing Basket. In 1993, the Crowle Home Branch and Hornsby Challenge amalgamate under the Hornsby Challenge name.


Hornsby Challenge was renamed the Achieve Foundation in 2007. In January 2009 the Crowle Foundation and Achieve Foundation amalgamated to become Achieve Australia. The new organisation includes a commercial enterprise, supported employment, accommodation services and day program activities. Today Achieve’s social enterprises include The Sewing Basket and AchievAble Enterprises, both provide great jobs for people with disability.

2013 – 2017 

From drawing board to official opening – the Crowle Home site at Ryde is sold to a developer. The plan includes 25 platinum-level accessible apartments owned by Achieve within the private residential complex. When the Crowle Estate opens, our clients move into state-of-the art apartments with 24/7 support accessed via the NDIS.

2012 – 2020

Achieve supports the Every Australian Counts campaign for a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Once the NDIS goes ahead, we take part in the pilot, successfully tender for services transferring from NSW Government and get our clients, families and staff ready for the full roll out and successful day-to-day operations.


A merger takes place between Achieve Australia and like-minded organisation, On Focus, in the Northern Rivers region of NSW. Achieve Australia, based in Casino, delivers Supported Independent Living and day program services to clients in the region.

2018 – 2021

We take part in pilot research about introducing the UK Quality Checkers program in Australia. The program employs people with lived experience of disability to audit services provided to people with disability. The pilot is a success, and we develop our own program, Quality Champions. By late 2021 we have hired and trained our Quality Champions team who start working with our clients to gather their feedback.


Achieve Australia and property fund developer Leftfield Social Housing set up Inclusive Housing Australia (IHA) to address the shortage of Specialist Disability Housing (SDA). The joint venture aligns with new thinking that separating accommodation from support services gives people with disability more flexibility and control when choosing accommodation and support service providers.


The Achieve Foundation is formed as a separate organisation with a bold vision of inclusion, where people with disability experience a deep sense of belonging.

The Foundation is set to dismantle barriers to inclusion using research and innovation in 2 key areas -
housing and supports – because home is where our sense of self is formed and reinforced -and community attitudes and mindsets - because ways of thinking influence who gets included and who gets left out.