There are perhaps few images more “Australian” than that of beachside revelers basking in the sun and the sand to mark the home stretch of summer on our national day of reflection and celebration. But for the 15,000 Australians who live with spinal cord injury, getting to the beach is more of a challenge for them than it is for most.
On Australia Day we come together to celebrate diversity, achievement and our commitment to a better future, and we recognise these same values that resonate with the vision for Sargood on Collaroy.
Built on a long history of community support, Sargood on Collaroy dates back to 1916 when Frederick George Sargood purchased a beachfront house overlooking Collaroy Beach. The site was acquired with Frederick Sargood’s vision to create a place of healing with the community. This was soon realised with the end of the First World War, which presented Frederick Sargood with the opportunity to offer his land for recuperative use.
In November 1918 Frederick Sargood donated his fully furnished beachside home to the War Chest to house injured soldiers before it was handed over to Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in 1923. For the next 36 years the site would become a dedicated hub for treating children with polio and tuberculosis until 1960 when the Hospital ceased all use and need for the facility, and it subsequently became the property of the Department of Health.
The site lay dormant until 1999 when the Collaroy Community Group was elected to revive Frederick Sargood’s vision for a place of healing. This group later became known as the Sargood Foundation and focused their efforts on promoting social integration, activity and participation for people living with a spinal cord injury.
With support from iCare (formerly known as Lifetime Care and Support Authority), the Sargood Foundation acquired the original site in 2011 and raised funds for the development of a world-class accessible accommodation resort that would offer education, health and wellbeing for people with spinal cord injury – Sargood on Collaroy.
Leading spinal injury rehabilitation service in NSW, Royal Rehab, was selected by the Sargood Foundation as the operational partner for Sargood on Collaroy, and with its expertise offers a refreshing take on accessibility and opportunity for people living with spinal cord injury.
For the 250 to 400 Australians whose lives are changed by a traumatic spinal injury every year, Sargood on Collaroy is the ultimate in accessible travel that provides more than an idyllic beachside address.
At Sargood, we invite guests and their families to get involved with our diverse range of opportunities to assist with the transition, adjustment and support for life with a spinal cord injury. Courses in vocational skills, parenting, wheelchair management and carer education offer practical support, while innovative recreational activities such as the Beach Access program and adaptive yoga provide accessible leisure options that promote participation and inclusion in the wider community. Wellness therapies are also available at Sargood on Collaroy, designed to provide a holistic approach to improving the health and wellbeing of guests while on holiday.
With its rich history of community involvement and support, the evolution of Sargood on Collaroy from vision to reality is a reflection of the values of inclusion, opportunity and a “fair go” that underpin the Australian culture. For many who live with disability, and specifically spinal cord injury, a facility like Sargood on Collaroy represents a better future for inclusion and diversity, and opens the door to more families and individuals getting back to the beach and participating in community celebrations in true “Aussie” fashion.