A lasting legacy to build a better future
“Dad was very intelligent, caring and kind. He was someone who was always aware of the needs of different people in the community.”
Throughout his life, the late David Foster played a vital role in advocating for improved services and accommodations for people with disability. David’s son Richard, who has autism, lived at the Lachlan Centre in North Ryde, which opened in the 1980s and was previously part of the Macquarie Hospital.
As Chairperson of the Family and Friends Forum of the Lachlan Centre, David became instrumental in working closely with the local families, appealing to his local connections, and using his skills and experience as an engineer, to lobby governments and politicians to construct improved facilities.
David was well-known in the community for bringing people together and standing up for the rights of not only his son, but also other people with disability at the Lachlan Centre, and later at Norton Road. His daughter, Sandra Cosgrove, says the role came naturally to her father.
“Dad was very intelligent, caring and kind. He was someone who was always aware of the needs of different people in the community.” says Sandra. “He was also a Board Member for a local autism association and would often get involved in school community activities with all his children.”
In 2010, the Lachlan Centre was closed to make way for 10 purpose-built homes, providing high behaviour support and independent living services for up to 50 people with disability, including his son Richard.
“The purpose-built cottages at Norton Road enabled Richard to have a better quality of life, where he could decorate his own room with his own furniture, display his bowling trophies and have more flexibility in his home life, while still accessing specialist services,” explains Sandra. “My brother was also able to participate in more community activities and worked for many years at Ku-rin-gai Council in the parks and gardens division.”
Nurse Systems Support Coordinator at Achieve Australia, David Ha, knew David for 20 years and says his leadership and kindness impacted the lives of many. “David was an outstanding leader and gained all the support and respect from the families of our clients,” says David.
“Throughout the changes of service delivery in all those years, he was actively involved in negotiation and discussion with the organisation. He always provided an enlightening view, valuable input and practical and constructive suggestions.”
David Foster also played a key role in the hiring and recruitment of many disability support staff working at Norton Road, which transferred to Achieve Australia from NSW Family and Community Services (FACS) in 2018. “David acted as an independent member of the recruitment panel,” recalls David Ha. “A lot of managers and frontline staff working here had been interviewed by him.”
Retiring from his position as Chairman two years ago, David’s legacy lives on at Norton Road. Today, his son Richard and many more people with disability are supported to live a full life in specialist disability accommodation as part of the community.
In October 2020, David passed away at the age of 90 years and will be fondly remembered for the many lives he touched throughout his lifetime.