About us

The Royal Rehab Group has a history that dates back to 1899, when our founder, Susan Schardt, a remarkable and pioneering woman who was sight impaired at birth, displayed extraordinary vision for what was possible.

At the young age of 27, Susan changed the life of a man who was facing disability and homelessness by finding him accommodation and care. Royal Rehab’s legacy of excellence and unwavering commitment to improving lives is a testament to Susan’s vision and the values that drive us forward.

Today, we have grown to become a renowned provider of holistic, client-centred, high-quality care in rehabilitation and disability services, having helped over 61,000 Australians over our 120 years of service.

What we offer

Our services include rehabilitation hospitals, a state-of-the-art advanced technology centre, disability support services offering supported independent living accommodation, specialist accommodation services, employment services, school leaver employment support, disability support co-ordination, and family mental health support services.

We also have a luxurious resort designed for individuals with spinal cord injuries, and a registered training college.

Innovation and creative thinking are at our core, and we are proud to be recognised for our exceptional care.

Our dedicated team takes great pride in their work as they support people to achieve as much independence and quality of life as possible.

We invite you to learn more about us and our commitment to providing exceptional care and support to those we serve.

Our Purpose and Vision

Our organisation and our people are energised by a common purpose – to empower people to reach their potential – as we strive to realise our vision – for a world without limits for people with disability, injury and illness.

Working collaboratively to explore what is possible, we value each person’s individual goals and aspirations, respecting that every individual’s circumstances are unique, and that independence can take many different forms.

Our Historical Milestones

The story of Royal Rehab began with Susan Schardt, a remarkable woman with enormous compassion and pioneering spirit who reached out to people with disabilities who were otherwise shunned by society.
From humble beginnings, Susan formed a committee and on 29 October opened the Commonwealth Home for Destitute Invalids in Redfern.
Governor of New South Wales, Sir Henry Rawson took a personal interest in Susan’s work and became the first patron. He promised to do all he could to help as long as he lived.
The cottage name was changed to the New South Wales Home for Incurables. However, it was soon declared structurally unsound and plans were made for demolition.
Sir Henry Moses MLC offered his home, Weemala at Ryde, for half its value of 7000 pounds. Susan and philanthropist Sir Hugh and Dame Emma Dixon, Waster Hall and George Todman all made generous donations
The New South Wales Home for Incurables officially opened at Weemala on 10 April 1907 with 65 beds. The establishment of a home for incurables was opposed by many who viewed the people to be undesirables.
Dr Nigel Boulton joined Weemala and gave almost 50 years’ of service as Honorary Medical Officer and Chairman of the Honorary Medical Board.
Susan Schardt recognised another need in the community; this time for the care of terminally ill cancer patients. An appeal was launched by Sir Walter Davidson. The proposed home for people living with cancer was met with strident opposition from local council on the fear that cancer was infectious.
Moorong opened on 26 June as a purpose-built home for the care and treatment of people with cancer. The bungalow style building had 24 beds and was set amongst palms and clusters of ferns and grass flowers.
Arrival of wireless had been keenly anticipated. Headphones were installed alongside each bed with a choice of two stations bringing those inside in touch with the world
Donations fell away to an alarming extent during the Great Depression. With no contribution from government and a reduction in invalid and old age pension payments, the future was uncertain.
In a final act of selfless devotion, Susan and her guide companion Beatrice Ricketts embarked on a tour of NSW, raising 35,000 pounds. After a lifetime of commitment and compassion, Susan died on 9 October at Weemala the home she founded.
On 3 September the world plunged into WWII. Women were actively recruited into jobs to support the war effort, placing a strain on the number of nurses and assistants.
The Federal Government became more involved in health matters after the Second World War. Under the Hospital Benefits Act 1946 the Federal Government agreed to subsidise public hospital beds on the condition there was no charge for patients in public wards.
Matron Savell was appointed matron of Moorong in 1924 and then also to Weemala. in 1932. In 1941 she was awarded an MBE for outstanding service.
With changing times came growing community awareness, the name of New South Wales Home for Incurables was no longer appropriate and changed to Royal Ryde Homes on approval by Queen Elizabeth II.
Coorabel was officially opened on 5 August to accommodate 114 non-acute people for rehabilitation, marking a more integrated hospital service to the community.
Weemala was substantially demolished and remodelled to cater for a growing need for long term care. The residents were displeased with the transformation which appeared more like a hospital than a place to call home.
Following the increased focus on rehabilitation and the return of injured and disabled people to the community and workforce, the name was changed to Royal Ryde Rehabilitation Hospital.
The Community Healthcare Aged Care Rehabilitation Unit (Dixson) was established to assist people on an outpatient basis return to the community with the best possible quality of life.
The Community Healthcare Aged Care Rehabilitation Unit (Dixson) was established to assist people on an outpatient basis return to the community with the best possible quality of life.
Coorabel was extended, signaling a growing need for private accommodation which was putting pressure on public accommodation. It featured a hydrotherapy pool to benefit all types of disability, and physically less strenuous than other forms of treatment. Coorabel had nine private rooms with capacity for 18 beds
The national healthcare system, Medibank, was introduced in 1975. The Federal Government negotiated relatively generous hospital cost- sharing arrangements with the states, provided that patients were guaranteed universal and free access to public hospitals.
Motorised wheelchairs appeared for the first time at Weemala, giving people a renewed sense of independence.
Dr. Robert 'Bob' Oakeshott AM, a senior rehabilitation medicine specialist, successfully made Royal Ryde Rehabilitation Hospital a postgraduate medical education hub. His accomplishments include founding the Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Service, the NSW Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program, and the University of Sydney Chair in Rehabilitation Medicine.
The Federal Government reestablished a universal, tax-funded health insurance system, Medicare, providing people with subsidised access to the doctor of their choice for out-of-hospital care, free public hospital care, and subsidised pharmaceuticals, which continues today.
The Spinal Injury Unit was established in Coorabel with ten beds for people with spinal cord injury to achieve a maximum level of independence and quality of life.
Building on the success of the Spinal Injury Unit, it was developed as a model of excellence in rehabilitation and expanded with additional beds in Moorong.
The Pain Management Unit saw the introduction of an intensive behavioural change program to assist people in coping with ongoing pain and where surgical or medical treatment was not appropriate.
The name was changed to Royal Rehabilitation Centre Sydney to overcome longstanding confusion with other hospitals in the area.
The Brain Injury Unit was established for people with traumatically acquired brain injury to assist them to achieve an optimal level of physical, intellectual and emotional functioning.
Professor Dennis Smith was appointed the first Chair of Rehabilitation Medicine, Sydney University, in collaboration with the Rehabilitation Studies Unit to explore optimum methods of reducing the impact of disability on people, their families and society.
The Community Integration Program was introduced to Weemala. It was designed to develop the skills to maximise independence for people living in institutional settings and transition them into the wider community.
Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS) accreditation set the framework for improving the quality and safety of healthcare which is consistently achieved today.
The Orthopaedic and Neurological units combined to form Coorabel Adult Rehabilitation Services (CARS) specialising in the rehabilitation of people of working age following injury or illness.
John Roarty AM, a long-term resident of Weemala, died aged 75. John had quadriplegia and arrived at Weemala aged 16 years. He was instrumental in the formation of the Residents’ Committee to gain resident consultation and input into the management of long-term care. In 1987 John was awarded Member of the Order of Australia for his work in fighting for the rights of all disadvantaged people.
Professor Trevor Parmenter AM, BA, PhD, FACE, FAAIDD, FAILED, FASSID was appointed director of the Centre for Development Disabilities Studies. The centre provided information, advice and technical assistance to people with developmental disabilities. He was appointed Member of the Order of Australia in 2005 for contributions to the field of developmental disability.
The Rehabilitation Nursing and Development Unit, the only rehabilitation nursing research unit in Australia, was established as a collaborative venture with the University of Western Sydney Nepean. The first chair, Professor Sarah Mott, provided leadership in nursing research and the development of evidence- based nursing practice.
In recognition of the inspiring rehabilitation journeys of our Brain Injury Unit clients, Royal Rehab held the first Wall of Fame event. This moving and uplifting ceremony has since been held annually.
The Spinal Outreach Service was established as a network of state-wide spinal injury services together with Royal North Shore Hospital and Prince of Wales Hospital operating as a single service across separate campuses.
Demand for services grew as a result of medical breakthroughs, longer life expectancies and increasing accident and survival rates. It became increasingly clear that the buildings were no longer adequate for the operations and the needs of the people they served.
Many years of planning and rigorous community debate began around redevelopment of the facility. Terry Gibson, a member of the Development and Planning Committee, was instrumental in the vision of Lardelli Park, a 2.4 hectare green space for the benefit of local communities.
The Royal Rehab Foundation was established to provide ongoing funding for research and a range of services and equipment for people undergoing rehabilitation. During this period, the Royal Rehabilitation College, a Registered Training Organisation was established to train people in the priority area of allied health assistance.
NSW Planning approved the rezoning of a portion of land for residential development, and the approval of the overall concept plan for the redevelopment of the entire site. Contemporary, functional and purpose-built for the needs of people with disabilities, particularly wheelchair users, the design set a new standard of excellence
Weemala began a new chapter on 9 November as a purpose-built, 32-unit complex celebrating 105 years of continuous long- term care.
Royal Rehab Private Hospital opened on 29 November to continue inpatient and day patient intensive rehabilitation programs for people recovering from surgery, trauma or illness.
19th February marked the beginning of brand new facilities with the opening of the comprehensively equipped and technologically advanced 16-bed Brian Injury Unit and 20-bed Spinal Injury Unit.
The name was changed to Royal Rehab to better reflect the widening continuum of health and disability services it now provides.
Royal Rehab expanded its supported accommodation services for people with disabilities with the construction of purpose-built homes in Putney. Across Sydney, dedicated staff provide 24/7 and drop-in support for everyday needs and facilitate community participation, empowering people to live as independently as possible.
In-Voc, a specialist vocational rehabilitation service, was established as a program designed to assist people with a newly acquired spinal cord injury to explore work, study and volunteering.
The Federal Government initiates the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) providing people with disability information and access to services in their communities.
Royal Rehab was appointed to manage Sargood on Collaroy, the world-first purpose-built resort for people with spinal cord injuries.
Ducati Owners Club of NSW Education and Research Hub opened as a centre of teaching and research excellence designed to drive the advancement in rehabilitation and disability services.
In 2019 Royal Rehab acquired MetroRehab in a move to expand its rehabilitation presence and offer rehabilitation services in the Inner West.
Royal Rehab acquired Breakthru disability services, expanding opportunities and holistic supports for people with disabilities in NSW, QLD, and VIC.
Royal Rehab launched Australia’s largest Advanced Technology Centre at the Ryde campus. The centre houses world leading advanced technology devices, many of which have not been seen before in Australia.
A new community centre was opened in Rydalmere, providing Royal Rehab and Breakthru clients with complementary services for the first time.
In February 2023 MetroRehab Hospital was rebranded as Royal Rehab Private Petersham, to build upon the strong reputation of Royal Rehab and to create a more seamless customer experience within the healthcare space.
'Breaking Grounds', a the first-ever fully inclusive and accessible café was launched on the Central Coast . The café also provides employment and training opportunities for people with disabilities.

Our Strategy

Our strategic plan is driven by a powerful vision of creating a world without limits for people with disability, illness, and injury. It serves as a roadmap, inspiring our people to dream bigger and bolder.

Our strategy is grounded in three key priorities that guide our actions:

We aim to become the premier destination for creative thinking in rehab and disability.

We do this by fostering a culture of collaboration, entrepreneurship, and innovation. We are committed to pioneering new research in rehab and disability, leveraging the latest technologies to push the boundaries of what's possible.

We are bold in our ambition to grow and expand our reach.

We are actively seeking out opportunities to acquire and partner with other reputable rehab and disability services, while simultaneously ensuring that we have the right systems, processes, and infrastructure in place to anticipate and welcome growth.

We are dedicated to nurturing a culture where our people and customers can thrive. ​

We strive to create a sustainable workforce that is passionate about working together to deliver the highest quality care imaginable. By fostering a culture of collaboration, support, and inclusivity, we are confident that we can continue to exceed the expectations of our customers and achieve our vision of a world without limits.​

Our Joint Patrons

We are proud to have Her Excellency The Honourable Margaret Beazley AC KC, Governor of New South Wales, and Mr Dennis Wilson as Royal Rehab’s Joint Patrons. 

Our Leadership​

Royal Rehab’s leadership team and Board of Directors are a group of highly talented and exceptional individuals, each bringing with them a wealth of experience and diverse perspectives.

They are passionately committed to our purpose and vision, as they work tirelessly to remain at the forefront of innovation, constantly pushing boundaries to ensure that the organisation continues to inspire and deliver the highest quality care and services possible.