Challenge Foundation steams ahead with project plans

BIG PLANS: Challege Foundation manager Michael O'Neill, board member Kerry Guymer, vice-president Kieran Davies and CEO Margaret O'Neill.

BIG PLANS: Challege Foundation manager Michael O'Neill, board member Kerry Guymer, vice-president Kieran Davies and CEO Margaret O'Neill.

It’s been 12 years in the making but a new home for people with disabilities has taken a giant step forward.

The Challenge Foundation has lodged a development application for a new 22-room facility to house people with disabilities.

The $6.7 million facility is pegged for a 6015 square metre site at 20 Marys Mount Road, near the Middle Arm Road intersection.

“It’s very exciting because Goulburn doesn’t have anything like this,” chief executive and Goulburn Mulwaree councillor Margaret O’Neill said.

“We used to send clients as far away as Bowral (for accommodation) but this is whole new process.”

The not-for-profit organisation operates group homes for people with disabilities. In Goulburn it has one group home in Dalley Street, catering for 18 to 35-year-olds, and runs a bus service, which goes as far afield as Yass.

Cr O’Neill said the new facility, designed by architect and board president Garry Dutaillis, would unite all services in the one spot and provide a comfortable living environment for clients aged 21 to fifty. It will include a central catering and living area, consulting rooms, offices, covered outdoor and activities space, landscaping and room for bus parking.

The single-storey complex comprises three brick buildings connected by glass foyers and with a focus on natural light. The first is an administration building leading to two residential structures and a private outdoor area. Each room has a glass door giving direct access to a garden. Rooms in one of the buildings have ensuites. The complex will also have a feature wall at the front.

“It’s updating everything,” Cr O’Neill said.

The Challenge Foundation purchased the land, previously part of Mulwaree High School, for market value from the State Government three years ago. Shortly before, it announced that it would no longer provide respite for school-aged children due to the resources needed to meet stricter governance standards. 

Cr O’Neill believed there was a clear need for the new facility.

“We have a number of young people here in Goulburn living in nursing homes because there’s nowhere else suitable for them. We’re also catering for those with elderly parents no longer in a position to look after them,” she said.

“We take people from east of Sydney and all over the place...There’s a waiting list.”

The development marks a new beginning for the Foundation, housed in Goldsmith Street for the past 50 years. The organisation has been operating for about 60 years.

The new premises will employ an extra 30 staff, including care, security, cleaning and maintenance personnel.

The new Challenge Foundation premises, marked in light green, is planned for Marys Mount Road, near the junction with Middle Arm Road.

The new Challenge Foundation premises, marked in light green, is planned for Marys Mount Road, near the junction with Middle Arm Road.

Foundation vice-president Kieran Davies said the project could be staged according to demand and financing.

The organisation will be relying on its assets, including the former Dalley Street and Goldsmith Street group homes, state and federal grant funding and community help. Grants cannot be pursued until the approval is granted.

“I’ll be out there fundraising to help meet the cost and I hope the community will support us,” Cr O’Neill said.

The CEO of the past 30 years told The Post local builders and tradespeople would be employed during construction. She also praised Mr Dutaillis for the amount of work put into the design.

Likewise, Mr Davies said Goulburn MP Pru Goward had worked hard to secure the land purchase, which was negotiated over several years with both Labor and Coalition state governments.

He believed the organisation would be “inundated” with client applications given the “void” in accommodation for the age group.

Cr O’Neill said she and the board had worked hard to get to this point and hoped construction could start soon after DA approval, with doors to open in the next 12 to 18 months.

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