Tulgeen Disability Services is celebrating its 40th birthday in August 2015, that’s forty years as a community service in the Bega Valley. Tulgeen is a prime example of how a few people with a commitment to human rights and equity can make a big difference to many individual’s lives.

Back in 1975, Bob Westmacott had a vision which resulted in 14 people voting Bernie Umback as President and Bob as Secretary of what was initially called the ‘Far South Coast Handicapped Children’s Association.  This name changed in November 1978 to Tulgeen Industries.

In 1985-86, with the release of the Richmond Report, and support from many like-minded individuals, Bob’s vision broadened and resulted in resident’s moving from a large Institution in Goulburn NSW to live in the Bega Valley.

Hazelton House on Riverside Farm just outside Candelo was the initial home for unique characters like Hugh Lidden, Bertie Nelson, Charlie Roach, Pauline Pendergast, and Charlie Fisk to mention just a few. Bill and Carole Broadhead played a major role in facilitating their move from the confines of institutional life to living in the community.

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The late Bill Broadhead




carole broadhead

Carole Broadhead





In 1989, Riverside Farm was sold and the two business’ a Nursery and Workcrew re-located to Riverside Nursery in Taronga Crescent on the southern edge of Bega.  At the same time the residents of the farm also moved to live in Bega.

Tulgeen’s past Chair of the Board of Directors, Gae Rheinberger is passionate about capturing and recording Tulgeen’s journey.  From its earliest beginnings in 1977, as a day service for locals in the Scout Hall in Bega run by one paid staff member and volunteers, Tulgeen has grown into an organisation providing services to  many clients within the Valley and employing 83 staff, and 31 supported employees.

To ensure Tulgeen’s history is not lost, Gae has initiated the “Tulgeen History Project’ and Gae would like to invite anyone who has a story to tell to contact her at gae.rheinberger(at)

Who better to give a snapshot of the early days of Tulgeen than Hugh Lidden who continues to live in Bega and work at Riverside Nursery.

Hugh’s memories

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Hugh Lidden

In 1984, Hugh Lidden left Kenmore in Goulburn, where he had been for about 10 years, to move to the Bega Valley.  Bill and Carole Broadhead had been talking with the bosses at Kenmore about Hugh moving to live at a farm in the Candelo area later named Riverside Farm.  The parcel of land making up the farm had been donated by Peter Collins, Hugh’s cousin, who farmed acreage in the area.

When Hugh first moved from Goulbourn he spent some time staying with Bill and Carol while the farm was being set up.  Bill and Carol were successful in gaining Government funding and a group of people with disabilities moved onto the farm.  Some of the people were from the local area, some were from Kenmore. There was Charlie Roach, Charlie Fisk and Pauline from Kenmore and Lizzy from Young, and Susan, Michelle and Jim from the local area.  Jim, Michelle and Susan would spend their day at Riverside and return home at night.  Hugh and the others lived at Riverside Farm.  Some of the staff that worked at Riverside Farm in those early days were Donna and Shane Cummings, Merv and Jan, Big John, Robyn, Francine, John Simpson and Max Williams.  As well as helping to run the farm, the staff supported Hugh and his housemates with going to Bega to do grocery and personal shopping

On the farm they raised poddy cows, milking cows and goats, and grew a huge array of vegetables like onions, watermelons, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, lettuces and cauliflowers. Merv was a butcher and he used to prepare meat for Hugh and his housemates to eat, and excess vegetables were sold at the Candelo Markets. The farm had two paddocks growing vegetables year round.  Hugh and Big John used to drive the tractor.  It was a pretty ‘crappy’ tractor and everyone was very pleased when the Government gave the farm a loan to buy a new tractor.  Hugh liked the new tractor.  He really liked Big John and working with him.  Big John used to sleep in a caravan at the farm. He died from cancer.


The goats didn’t stay very long they were ‘running amuck’, and Merv didn’t like them because they were a nuisance.  Merv wanted to get more cows.  The milking cows were good and Hugh liked drinking the fresh milk.

Hugh also worked for the Bega Valley Workcrew which also used Riverside Farm as their base.  The work they did was slashing grasslands, rotary-hoeing paddocks, pulling down and putting up fences, and taking the old fences to the tip.


The Riverside Nursery at Taronga Crescent when it first opened

Later when Riverside Farm was sold and everyone moved into Bega, Hugh lived in Ravenswood Street.  The Workcrew was located on the site of Hayes Haulage, until Riverside Nursery off the Tathra Road at Taronga Crescent was established.  The Council gave Tulgeen the land for the Nursery and when it opened the Workcrew was relocated to work from the Riverside Nursery.


Inside the Riverside Nursery in the early days

One of the highlights Hugh talked about was going for holidays to Young, to dances and sports carnivals.  Hugh won a medal which he is very proud of and still has today. One time on the way back from Young the ‘bus blew up’ at Canberra and they had to leave the bus in Canberra.  It was very funny but it cost a ‘bloody fortune’ to fix the bus. The staff forgot to put oil in it.

Another highlight was the Deb Ball, Hugh’s partner was Susan  and it was held at the RSL Club.  Everyone got dressed-up.  Carrie Ann ‘did it’ and Carol Broadhead still has a video of the Ball.

At the end of the interview Hugh said “I like Tulgeen it’s a nice place, I don’t mind it, all the staff treat me good.  Julie takes me to the places I want to go.”

Hugh is now living on his own in a Housing NSW Unit in Bega and continues to be supported by Tulgeen with ‘drop-in’ support.

From and interview with Hugh Lidden on Thursday, 12 March 2015 

Mitch van Reesch, Individual Support Coordinator – Tulgeen Disability Services

Rotary immunises 10 children against polio on Tulgeen’s behalf

As thanks for a presentation by Tulgeen CEO Pete Gorton, Rotary extended its work in its ‘Rotary End Polio Now’ program by immunising ten children.  Thank you Rotary!!


The annual Rotary Book Fair is its major fund raiser.  This year, it will be held at the Bega Show Ground from 3-5 July 2015.

Please support Rotary’s work.

Additional information about polio:


A Message from the new Chair of Tulgeen Group Grattan Smith

I am pleased to have this opportunity to thank everyone for the welcome and support I have received from the Tulgeen family since assuming the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors on 15 April. Since joining the Board in June of last year I have met many of you and look forward to meeting many more over the coming months.

Importantly I also acknowledge the tremendous contributions that our outgoing Chair has made over the last 15 years as a Director. Gae has been a dedicated, hardworking and passionate supporter of Tulgeen, and in her role of Chair since 2006 has delivered many positive outcomes for our clients, people and the community. Recently Gae has been instrumental in the development of the Tulgeen History project and in this 40th anniversary of Tulgeen an appropriate finale to her active involvement. We will formally recognise all of Gae’s contributions in the very near future.

I personally appreciate that Gae has offered to continue in the role of Director until she fully ‘retires’ over the coming months. I also look forward to Gae’s ongoing involvement as a Friend of Tulgeen in 2016 after returning from her extended trip.

Equally, I welcome Christine van den Berg as a Director, commencing on the team in January. Chris brings extensive experience to the Board and I look forward to working with her, Cam, Deb and Janette in supporting the CEO and his team in delivering services and support within our community.

The Board has recently reaffirmed its purpose in guiding Tulgeen into a successful future and the Directors welcome your feedback on progress and direction at any time. Our current year’s financial performance is showing positive results and the dedication of all our people will see this continue into the future, creating a sustainable and growing organisation.

Certainly the last few years have been challenging for Tulgeen and the transition to PCA & NDIS will no doubt bring a few more. However with our new strategic plan Tulgeen is well placed to meet these challenges and deliver sustainable and beneficial outcomes. We look to the past with pride and the future with excitement.

In my role at Bega Cheese I have been involved with Tulgeen since the fledgling cheese business started at North Bega around 2006. To see what this activity has grown into today is testament to what we can achieve together. The recent changes in Stitches & Prints and the flourishing Riverside Nursery are delivering tremendous outcomes for our people and the community, and the additional contracts for the Bega Valley Work Crew will see growth in opportunities going forward.

I am honoured and proud to work with the other Directors, management and staff, and our clients and their families and advocates. We should be confident that together as 1Tulgeen we will be able to do much more for our clients and our community.

Grattan Smith

Tulgeen Group welcomes new Chairperson Grattan Smith


New Chair of Tulgeen Board of Directors, Grattan Smith

Dear Members, Stakeholders and Community,

I’m delighted to confirm Grattan Smith has accepted the role of Chair of Tulgeen’s Board of Directors, following Gae Rheinberger’s retirement from that position in late April.  Some of you will know that Gae had indicated her desire to step back from the Chair position this year, and she intends to leave the Board from the planned Annual General meeting in October.  However, due to planned extended absences from the Bega valley due to her family and travel commitments, the change over was brought forward.  Gae has agreed to remain on the Board as a Director for the moment, building on her 15 years as a Director of Tulgeen.

Grattan has lived in the Bega area for almost twenty years and has been working at Bega Cheese as a senior executive since 1997.  He initially joined the Tulgeen Board last year as a means of supporting our local community and has been both amazed and delighted by the professional work that he has seen being undertaken within Tulgeen.

In the next weeks and months, Grattan will be visiting a number of our workplaces.  Grattan hopes to be able to join in or observe  some meetings such as the Good Practice Group, as he learns more about the great  diversity of Tulgeen’s work.


Retired Chair, Gae Rheinberger

There are plans to farewell Gae and to formally welcome Grattan in the form of an afternoon tea. More information will be forwarded once we can co-ordinate with Grattan and Gae.

In the meantime, I am sure you all join me in thanking Gae for her many years of voluntary service to Tulgeen as Chair, and to welcome Grattan as he takes the organisation forward into the NDIS.  Please make him welcome!

Best wishes,

Pete Gorton, Chief Executive Officer.

Alternative Tulgeen contact details for 12 May 2015


Please note that due to a scheduled Origin power outage on 12 May 2015, NO PHONES at Tulgeen will be operational.  Tulgeen requests that you contact the following key people directly as required:

Chief Executive Officer, Pete Gorton 0419 609 579.

Client Services General Manager, Jen Russell  0418 771 622

General Manager Corporate Operations, Rachel Choy 0427 023 170

Client Services Manager, Rose Hulst 0438 924 151

INSYNC Manager A/g Karen Machan 0417 281 999

Operations Manager Australian Disability Enterprises Paul Spiteri 0407 298 954 (including Bega Valley Work Crew, Stitches and Prints and Tulgeen Packaging Services)

Bega Valley Work Crew – Jarrod Palmer  can be contacted on 0488 941 769

The Riverside Nursery can still be contacted on 6492 4151 as they are unaffected by the power outage.