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BEHHA was established in 1977. Since that time we have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to providing support services to people with an intellectual disability. We have a long tradition of assisting the residents of our service to build meaningful lives in their local community.

Our residents work, attend day programs, pursue leisure and recreational interests, and establish friendships and networks of support in their community. We believe our residents have the support and encouragement they need to imagine and create their own ‘good life’. We have had a person-centred approach to our service delivery for many years and this can be seen in the diverse and interesting lives our residents have chosen for themselves.

We have modest expansion as our target under the NDIS. We plan to continue operating in the same local areas that are our current focus and use the full roll out of the NDIS across NSW as an opportunity to grow our service. We believe our long experience of enabling people to create meaningful and active lives will position us well for the future.

At the same time we are aware of the challenges all providers face as we move into the new system that will be created by the NDIS. Our strategic plan focuses our efforts in preparing for these challenges and assist us to remain an innovative, viable and effective service for the future.


‘My time with BEHHA’ by Joan Wagstaff OAM

Bankstown East Hills Handicapped Association now known as BEHHA Enterprises Inc. was formed in November 1977 by a group of concerned parents headed by the late Claris Napthali. Concerned that their school leaving children from the Carolyn Chisholm school were not eligible to attend the nearby sheltered workshops and were in danger of losing what skills they had attained with no further activity in sight. 

Pat Rogan the member for East Hills was approached and he in turn contacted the Revesby YMCA about providing a room at the “Y” to set up an activity centre. Initially there were 10 attending the “centre” increasing to 25 who paid a nominal fee. 

My introduction to the Bankstown East Hills Handicapped Association was in 1980 when I had a knock on the door one evening and three people presented themselves, one of which I knew, Michael Smith. The other two were the late Claris Napthali, the first Secretary of the Association and Joe Brent, Director of the Revesby Y.M.C.A. who I did not know at the time. Their mission was to encourage me to take on the role Treasurer of the Association which had formed November  1977 and was in need of a Treasurer. 

Michael Smith was the auditor at the time and knew of my involvement with the Padstow Heights. P. & C Treasurer/organiser for the “Tuck Shop” and as my children were now in high school was of the opinion that maybe I had spare time on my hands despite the fact that I worked full time. After some reluctance I agreed and hence my involvement for the next 40 years. 

The chief goal of the Association besides the daily activities was for the “trainees” to achieve living independence. To this end we had a kitchen installed in our room at the “Y” weekly cooking lessons with a teacher from the Padstow TAFE and all our fundraising efforts were with the aim of purchasing a group home and establishing an independent living program. 

Vince Martin, ex- member for Banks, was the President and through his influence in 1983/84 we became the beneficiary of the Revesby Workers Community fundraising appeals, who sponsored us for two years and enabled the Association to purchase the Hedlund St. Residence. There was a “but” attached to the fundraising and at the time members (of which there were very few) sold raffle tickets most Saturday nights at the RWC Shows The raffles were signed records of the artist performing on the night., the benefit being that we saw some wonderful artists at the time. i.e Dame Vera Lynne, Tom Jones, Harry Secombe to name a few. 

1988 Bankstown East Hills Handicapped Association became Incorporated with a new name change to BEHHA Enterprises Incorporated (Enterprise after our location) 

1995 we had the great privilege of a visit from the Rear Admiral Peter Sinclair Governor of NSW and his wife Shirley Mrs Sinclair was the Patron of the Quest that year and was most impressed with our group that she came in contact with at the “Ball” and wished to visit to our training centre and also the Beamish Street home. 

In order to commence our independent living program Hedlund Street required a further bedroom, lounge room, bathroom and laundry. Fortunately in our infant stages we were on a fairly friendly footing with the federal government department (Dept. Social Security) and I was advised to put in a submission for the funds required. Looking back it was a very naïve hand written submission but nevertheless we were granted a loan for the extension. 

Beside the purchase of Hedlund Street, I was also involved with the architect and builder re the extension to the house, purchasing the furniture and furnishings. The first residents moved in 1985 

We had by this time outgrown the “Y” as we were doing more light contract work. Considerable time was spent searching for a bigger premise to expand our contract work and we settled for Enterprise Avenue, Padstow. The late Pat Rogan the member for East Hills was our President at the time and he had little time for looking for new premises. Again I was dealing with renovations to the factory to suit our needs. Fortunately my next door neighbour was a builder who helped us out on these occasions. During this time I stepped down from the management committee but remained on the Residential Committee. I therefore have been the longest continual committee member of BEHHA becoming President in 1993 and for the next 23 years. 

It became clear after a few years at Enterprise Ave, that once more the workshop had outgrown the premises. By this time the workshop had gained bigger contracts and there was no storage room or space for trucks loading pallets etc. So the search was on for a new site. Hence the move to Ladbroke Street and again I was involved in renovating the factory to suit our needs. The move was successful and we had gained some very important contracts. 




Unfortunately it was not enough. After much soul searching the decision was made to re-auspice with Amaroo (DSA Disability Services Australia as known to-day) who took over the Sheltered workshop whilst BEHHA maintained the residential service. 

The “Queen of Bankstown Quest” was initiated to assist us in our efforts to fundraise and was first held 1978 and ran for 21 years. During that time I was the Coordinator for 10 years and Treasurer for 15 years. The Quest raised nearly 2 million dollars which twenty years ago was a lot of money. During the course of the Quest we brought “on board” the Children’s Hospital Cancer & Leukaemia and Bankstown Handicapped Children’s Centre. Plus the YMCA So it was a four way split.  The money raised from “the Quest” enabled the Association to buy Beamish Street and later the cost of the extensions to the home to meet our growing needs.

Applications were made to the Department of Housing to rent a house to further the independent living program River Road was set up for three residents and then later lluka Street.

At this time our funding resources changed from street stalls, garage sales, raffles and golf days to the   BEHHA OpShop. Phoebe McGing & Lillian Ruff set about influencing the Board for the need for an OpShop to help raise funds for the Association. It opened up in 1991 in a very small shop in the Revesby Plaza and has had two further moves since. Now situated in Revesby Place. It is a very popular little shop with very dedicated staff. 2020 was not a good year with a ten week closure due to the Corona virus but everyone was pleased to see the shop reopen. 

And then came the NDIS and with it a lot of headaches and for me a dose of the “shingles” Initially we had consultants telling us what to do “That we would not survive” being a small organisation. Pressure to amalgamate with other organisations but we stood our ground deciding that the way forward” was to become a boutique service and maintain the high level of care that our residents receive. Over the years we have had very dedicated staff, some who have been with the organisation for many years. During my time with the Association I had been very humbled to receive some awards for community service which included the “Bankstown Citizen of the Year Award” in 1983 and the Order of Australia Medal 1991. 

After 23 years as President it was time for me to stand down and in closing I thank all the wonderful people that I have met over the years that have supported the “Association” and I am very proud of the achievements made by the “Association” including the establishment of the Supported Accommodation Service and the excellent service provided by the very dedicated staff.

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