About Us

Ascent is a prominent community based Disability Service Provider located in Armidale NSW. As a registered NDIS provider, we specialise in providing individual, ethical and effective support for people with disabilities, their families and carers.

Originally established to in the 1950’s, Ascent has a proud 60 year history of providing quality services within the New England Region.

We strive to offer choice, create opportunities, and develop lifelong skills for all people in our community. Ascent offers a comprehensive range of services underpinned by research and compassion, within a defined quality framework.

WHAT WE BELIEVE

Our vision: We aspire to be the leading provider of Disability Services and Community Support in the New England and North Western NSW.

Our mission: We provide quality support for people with disabilities, to enable the pursuit of their goals and aspirations.

Our participants: We support people with a disability, as well as their families, their carers, and others identified with need of our support.

Our guiding principles:

  1. Respect — ensure dignity and valuing of individual talents, strengths and diversity
  2. Embrace opportunity — actively seek new and creative approaches and opportunities to benefit participants
  3. Best practice — strive to deliver quality services and supports acknowledging best practice
  4. Expertise — constantly develop and improve our specialised knowledge and understanding
  5. Professionalism — provide services ethically and delivered by highly-skilled staff
  6. Quality — achieve excellence in everything we do through innovation and continuous improvement
  7. Collaboration — deliver great outcomes together with other community providers, supporters and volunteers
  8. Innovation — design and implement new ways of operating and delivering services
  9. Evidence-based services — provide evidence of planned supported outcomes
  10. We care — everyone is important

OUR HISTORY

Ascent’s origins date back to 15th June 1955 when several Armidale families, who had children with developmental disabilities, established a school for their children, known as The Armidale and Handicapped Children’s Centre. The Organisation later became the Armidale branch of the Sub Normal Children’s Welfare Association, which was renamed the Challenge Foundation in 1983.

The Ascent Group Australia Limited was established in 2007 remains the official entity of the Organisation today.

Since 1955, our services have continually evolved and grown to meet the ever changing needs of the people for whom we provide support, from the original special school through to adult activity support, employment, housing and supported living.

Today we provide quality support to people under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Supports are being provided broadly across the NDIS, and we ensure our participants have choice and control over their lives to pursue their aspirations and achieve their goals.

OUR BOARD

Huntly GordonHuntly Gordon accepted the role of Chairman of The Ascent Group in 2006. He has been a member of the Board since 1995, also serving as Vice President on the LifeSkills Participation Advisory Committee. He has a background in law, managed the family grazing property at Ben Lomond with his wife Cath, and has recently retired to Armidale. Their son Alasdair is a client of  Ascent.

Ruth BlanchRuth Blanch has been a member of the Board since 1995 and has served on both the Supported Employment and Open Employment Committees. Ruth is very active in the Armidale community and has held the positions of President of both Special Olympics and the Country Women’s Association. This year Ruth was presented with the Premier’s Volunteer Award, celebrating 25 years of volunteering experience with community groups across the region. Ruth’s son Greg is a supported employee of The Ascent Group.

Rick MillsRick Mills joined the Board in December 2000 and has served on the Business Services Sub-Committee. A third generation Armidalian, Rick has strong ties to the business community, including as a former Director of Richardson’s Hardware & Agriculture. He was also the Director of ABS Building Society for over 30 years and Chairman since 1993. Rick has been a member of Armidale North Rotary Club since 1971 and was previously a member of the Board of Rusden Enterprises from 1978 to 1982.

Caroline CouplandCaroline Coupland joined the Board in 2013, following a working career in the USA, Italy, and Australia as a private sector lawyer. She has worked with Baker & Johnson, Deacons (now Norton Rose), Slater & Gordon, and the Compliance Directorate and Investment Management Team at ASIC. Raised in North Qld, Caroline moved to Armidale in 2012 with her husband Sam and their three children. Their daughter Charlotte has Williams Syndrome, and through providing her support, Caroline has gained immense understanding of the challenges and issues faced by people with a disability.

Will WarrickWill Warrick joined the Board in January 2013. During the last few years, Will has held the position of Treasurer. Will is a qualified Chartered Accountant (1985-2011) and has a Bachelor of Financial Administration. He was also a Partner with Roberts and Morrow before retiring in 2011. Will is currently on Ascent’s Management, Planning and Finance Committee.

Brian McRaeBrian McRae joined the Board in November 2011. Brian has practiced as a Veterinarian and Business Manager.  Brian has also been a Director of Lorna Hodgkinson Sunshine Homes. Brian’s  son Matthew is a client of The Ascent Group.

Jenny BaileyJenny Bailey
Jenny Bailey joined the Board in 2016. A virtual native of Armidale, Jenny has long been immersed in local community activities. Jenny is the Patron of PLC Armidale, having also previously served as the President of the P&F, and has worked in the service of a number of community organisations in the region, including the Armidale Hydrotherapy Pool. Jenny and her husband Peter were co-founders of Country Week, the precursor to the Foundation for Regional Development of which Jenny continues to contribute to today as a Consultant. Jenny was elected to the Armidale Dumaresq Council in 2012 and served until it’s amalgamation with Guyra Shire Council in 2016.

Hugh BeattieHugh Beattie
Hugh Beattie joined the Board in 2016. Hugh served as a senior officer in the Royal Australian Air Force, retiring as Wing Commander in 1983, after 20 years’ service, to commence farming operations in the Walcha district. Hugh joined Practical Systems Ltd. in 1993 utilising several years’ experience in the RAAF using digital technology and as management, planning and recording tools for his farming operations. Hugh was appointed Managing Director in 2004 and is the co-designer of the company’s original software products. Hugh took over the Chairmanship of the company Board on 2009 through to 2015.
Hugh is married to Elizabeth and they have four daughters and six grandchildren

OUR LEADERSHIP TEAM

Peter WestbrookPeter Westbrook  Peter has a passion for providing great support services for people with disability to achieve the best outcomes in their  life. He was appointed to the position of CEO in July 2014 to provide the leadership for ASCENT to transition into the NDIS and continue the strong tradition of being the support provider of first choice in the New England Region. Peter has extensive Executive Management experience gained over 30 years working in Senior positions with prominent Disability Organisations. He has also worked in Public administration and small business. Peter has an outstanding record in delivering strategic change with project outcomes that satisfy customer’s requirements.

Michelle CooperMichelle Cooper joined Ascent in April 2010 as the Finance and Corporate Services Manager. Prior to this, she was the Finance Manager for another local not-for-profit. Michelle has extensive experience in Commonwealth Government, working for the Australian Bureau of Statistics for 11 years, and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations for 4 years. At the ABS, Michelle was the Assistant Director for Corporate Planning before moving to the International Trade in Services section. Michelle holds a Bachelor of Economics and a Graduate Diploma in Financial Management from the University of New England, a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, and is a Member of CPA Australia.

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