Recognising the micro charities supporting people with Down syndrome in Australia


According to Down Syndrome Australia there are an estimated 13,000 people in Australia with Down syndrome with approximately 270 born annually which is estimated to represent 1 in every 1,100 which is lower than the worldwide average of 1 in 700. Down syndrome is the most common genetic disability and is caused when a person is born with an extra chromosome. Aspects of physical health, some physical characteristics and intellectual development are the main impacts of Down syndrome.

People with Down syndrome can speak fluently but for many difficulties with clarity of speech requires speech and language therapy. People’s ability to speak clearly does not represent their ability to understand and this often leads to individual’s being underestimated resulting in frustration and isolation.

In Australia there are 20 registered charities who mention Down syndrome within their purpose. These include each state subsidiary of Down Syndrome Australia. This organisation,and its state subsidiaries make up 9 of the 20 registered charities mentioned.

The two largest registered charities are Lutanda Children’s Services who provide camps for schools and conferences and also Disability Camps aimed at individuals with special needs.The disability camps are located near Sydney. The other large charity is the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations who are a cross-disability advocacy voice for people with disabilities in Australia. The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations receives the most government support of the 20 charities reviewed with a total over $2.6m. The next closest charity for government grants is Down Syndrome Association of Victoria with $637k.

The Impact Suite would like to highlight the efforts of some of the micro sized charities who are doing impactful work to support people with Down syndrome and their families. These charities are at the coalface of support and only one has received government support with a small contribution of $6,000.The rest are completely self-funded relying on donations and other revenue.Most of these charities will be unknown to the general public as they are so small, yet they are having a tangible impact in their local areas and we want to celebrate them for their work.

Disabled Divers Association: is a registered charity that is dedicated to encouraging and supporting people with disabilities to enjoy snorkelling and diving activities. Their programs are designed to inspire and give people with disabilities the opportunity of putting fun back into life using water programs including snorkelling, freediving and scuba diving.

Celebrating Abilities Inc: is committed to enriching the lives of our local community by providing unique and joyful physical experiences for people living with disabilities; whether it is a physical, acquired, mental health, intellectual or emotional as well as people experiencing marginalisation in their lives. The organisation supports participants to “Celebrate their Abilities” with balance, co-ordination, aerial yoga, proprioception, functional fitness, exercise rehabilitation, wellness coaching,mindfulness, meditation, and much more. Their services are for all abilities and all ages and their mission is to make a difference transforming lives. They see the person’s abilities and not the disability.

Danceability Australian Limited: DanceAbility Australia Ltd aims to enrich the lives of children and adults with intellectual or physical disabilities through dance and music in a safe, fun and caring environment. The benefits of their dance program is enormous. Not only are the participants improving their health in the form of exercise, but it is a wonderful social platform for all participants and positively impacts all our participant families and the community at large. A diverse group of participants ranging in age from 6 to 55, have the opportunity to learn Hip Hop, Jazz, Line and Ballroom dancing. Recognised as a Public Benevolent Institution, DanceAbility Australia Ltd, a registered charity endorsed by the Australian Tax Office as a deductible gift recipient, is run entirely by a dedicated team of volunteers.

The Right Start Foundation Limited: is a charitable organisation which was started in 2010 by a group of parents whose children have Down syndrome. Led by the vision of mum Glenda Graban, these parents dedicated themselves to ensuring that children with Down Syndrome could receive all the support they could get, to set them on the road to a happy and rewarding life. Their aims are to raise awareness, provide a network of information, friendship and support for families who have been touched by Down syndrome, provide services and support to all people with Down syndrome to reach their potential and to help people with Down syndrome to ‘get the right start in life’.


All four of the profiled charities run a completely volunteer workforce. Only one has had a small government grant of $6,000 with the rest of their funds coming from donations or other revenue sources. Each charity has a very hands on social impact in their communities yet are relatively unknown nationally due to their small size.

The Department of Social Services advises 18% of Australians have a disability and that increases to 51% of Australians over the age of 65 who are living with a disability. The National Disability Strategy aims to improve access and participation for people with disabilities as well as increasing awareness of their rights. So, on World Down Syndrome Awareness Day we encourage you to embrace #WeDecide and consider contributing to one of the Australian Charities who support Australians with Down syndrome.

Please find further statistics in the following infographics.