Sunnyfield History

Our story

“That the effort was successful beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, seemed incidental; it was the getting there that provided the greatest exhilaration.”

The History of Sunnyfield, foreword, Shelagh O’Hanlon, Mosman, July 1981.


In the 1950s parents of children with an intellectual disability were advised that the most appropriate place for their children was an institution. Not satisfied with this, Hazel Whiddon placed an advertisement in the Manly Daily seeking like minded mothers, and Sunnyfield started from the Sunnyfield School. Our history has been full of achievements for Sunnyfield and our clients.  We continue to make improvements in the quality of services we offer and lead the sector in innovative options for people with a disability.

We look forward to leading the sector in to the future.

Sunnyfield would like to acknowledge the work of Shelagh O’Hanlon, the first principal of The Sunnyfield School, for her compilation of the history of Sunnyfield from 1951 to 1981. Her work ‘The Sunnyfield Association – the first thirty years’ is available at the State Library of NSW.


  • In 1952 the Sunnyfield Association was formed
  • 1953 the school was opened in Manly Vale with 23 students
  • A Crown Grant of 5 acres of land was acquired at Allambie Heights


  • The first Hostel at Allambie Heights was built and opened for
    27 people
  • The Adult Training Centre was opened and eventually became a sheltered workshop
  • Trevor Whiddon House was built for additional residents

1970’s & 1980’s

  • Additional land was acquired at Allambie Heights and the workshops were expanded
  • Another Hostel was opened that would eventually cater for
    29 people.
  • Community based houses were also established on the
    Northern Beaches


  • More residents move from Allambie Heights to community
    based houses
  • Residents are supported in their own units
  • Community services, outreach and post-school programs begin across Northern Sydney


  • Services expand to the New England region
  • Purchase of new houses and modernisation of
    Allambie Heights factory
  • Community based services and accommodation services spread across Sydney and then the Central Coast
  • A factory in Chatswood is gained

Now & Beyond

  • Commitment to person-centred planning across NSW and ACT
  • Support for individualised funding and preparation for a new era in disability services
  • A new 2014-2017 strategy is adopted to guide our approach
    to the NDIS