About Compass

The Compass Story

The Compass Institute Inc. is an award-winning Sunshine Coast based ‘For Purpose’ organisation, dedicated to providing support for people with intellectual and/or physical disabilities.

2023 marks 20 years of delivering our services to the local community. To celebrate this milestone, we have launched a special campaign called “See the Able, Not the Label”, showcasing some our Trainees like you’ve never seen them before, along with sharing some of their heartfelt stories of transformation and growth.

Where it all began…

Compass officially commenced in 1991, but its origin story began many years earlier in a quiet suburb in 1960’s Brisbane. It’s the story of two boys, David and Geoffrey.

Encouraged by his family, David made friends with a young boy in the neighbourhood named Geoffrey. Geoffrey had been born with cerebral palsy and an intellectual impairment. He wore braces on both legs, had one malformed arm and struggled with his speech. He was left out by the neighbourhood children and even bullied by some.

David was captain of his Rugby League team, an athlete and a capable student. Above all else, he had been brought up to value fairness, which influenced him to became somewhere of a protector to Geoffrey. The two boys spent a great deal of time together walking to and from school, playing in the park, and doing whatever young boys do! Over time, David found that Geoffrey never judged him, he was always kind, he was incredibly grateful for every little thing… and he even laughed at all of his jokes!

David learned that while he accepted Geoffrey exactly as he was, Geoffrey also completely accepted him as he was. This was a striking realisation and one that would go on to shape David’s life.

Compass is born…

David went on to study and work in the field of disabilities and in 1991, he founded The Compass Institute. Initially, Compass provided Alternative Education programs to at-risk youth, with over seven thousand school children benefitting from their involvement. Increasingly, these programs were also offered to support young people with intellectual disabilities, who also at times exhibited challenging behaviours.

In 2003, the Compass team, still headed up by David, followed its dream to establish a leading-edge day program for young people with disabilities.

The intent of the Compass service model has from day one been to dramatically change the philosophy behind disability support services – from one of passive recreation to a pathway of lifelong learning, skills-based training and vocational opportunities.

In many ways Compass has rewritten the rule book around the role of a support service in the lives of people with a disability. It has done this by adopting an asset-based service model. One where the organisation creates and holds a space within which people with disabilities can show the world their true potential and what they can achieve, through supported and structured learning and development.


Compass today…

Currently our 90+ staff support over 160 Trainees (people with disabilities) via 6 Campuses and a range of Compass-built social enterprises, from Caboolture through to Gympie.

Compass’s social enterprises include a fully functional farm, multiple cafes, a retail outlet, a commercial kitchen, an Assistance Dog program and much more – all offering life-changing opportunities for young people with disabilities.

Along the way, Compass has won numerous awards including Hall of Fame inductee in the 2018 Sunshine Coast Business Awards and made the final four in the Queensland Community Organisation of the Year 2018.

At Compass, we believe in the extraordinary potential of human beings and are driven to create a world where EVERYONE can have the opportunity to create the life of their choice.

Join Compass



Our Awards

Compass has been nominated for and has received several awards in the Disability and Business sectors, in recognition for its leading-edge service provision for people with intellectual and/or physical disabilities in Australia. These awards include:


Community Group of the Year Award – Finalist Community Achievement Awards


Hall of Fame Recipient Sunshine Coast Business Awards


Excellence Awards for Collaboration – Winner Sunshine Coast Business Awards


Community Group Or Organisation – Nominee Australia Day Award


Leadership Award – Winner Sunshine Coast
Business Awards


Not For Profit Business Award – Winner Sunshine Coast Business Awards


Social Responsibility Award – Winner Sunshine Coast Business Awards


Sunshine Coast Citizen Of The Year presented to Compass CEO, David Dangerfield Sunshine Coast Council


Community Group or Organisation of the Year – Nominee Sunshine Coast Australia Day Awards


Knowledge, Industries & Professional Services Large Business Award – Winner Sunshine Coast Business Awards


Junior Citizens Of the Year Award presented to four Compass Trainees – Winners Australia Day Celebrations


Outstanding Service Provider – Winner National Disability Services


Outstanding Service Provider – Winner National Disability Services


Innovative Programmes – Runner Up National Disability Services


Education Award for work with youth at risk – Winner State Government

Our Leadership Team

Cindy WhiteHead of People and Culture

Liza BrockGeneral Manager

Kristy ReadingPayroll & Accounts

Our Board

David Dangerfield – CEO

David Dangerfield is the founder and CEO of the Compass Institute. His background includes many years’ experience in the fields of business, the not for profit sector and disabilities.

He studied and worked overseas in the disability sector during the eighties and nurtured the vision of establishing a leading edge service for young people with disabilities in Australia – a dream he realised through Compass in 2003.

In 2014 David was awarded Sunshine Coast Australia Day Citizen of the Year and his work in disabilities and the community has also been recognised with a number of other honours.

Ian Newton – Chairperson

Ian has many years’ experience in governance and brings extensive business, innovation and entrepreneurial skills to Compass along with a passion for small business, health and wellbeing. Ian and wife Sue have been involved in several medical practices here on the Sunshine Coast and now in Brisbane. Modestly, Ian says “Playing a small role in transforming the lives of people living with a disability and their families through the educational and family-based model of Compass is an honour and a privilege.”

Ian is also a qualified Naturopath and Hypnotherapist and has for many years made valuable contributions to Compass’s staff training in a variety of areas including Strategy, Leadership, Innovation and Stress Management.

Kristy Reading – Secretary

Kristy holds two roles with Compass, one as Secretary on the Board of Management and the other as Payroll and Accounts. The payroll and Accounts role sees her overseeing payroll, creditors, customers, financial reporting as well as managing upgrades to the different Education & Training centres.

The Secretary role sees her providing financial reports to the Board, preparing annual budgets and being part of the decision making for the future of the organisation. 

Kurek Ashley

Kurek has been well known around the world for over 3 decades as the premier expert in personal & professional development and self-discovery. His Fire Walking techniques have shown 1000’s how to overcome their fears and embrace the mantra that anything is possible. He has given 100’s of presentations and workshops and is the author of International Best Seller “How Would Love Respond”.

Karis Ramsay

Karis is passionate about working towards improving health and wellbeing for all by working with compassion, empathy and humility to make a positive difference in communities by advocating for accessibility and inclusion for inequity groups. Karis is an experienced public health and inclusion adviser, proficient in developing and managing projects both internationally and nationally. Karis is currently writing a PhD and has a Masters of Public Health from the University of Sydney’s medical school, she also has a degree in Nutrition with a major in sport and exercises science and a minor in public health. Karis has worked in a variety of multicultural teams on overseas welfare contracts at an international and local community development level. Throughout her career, she has always advocated for inclusion and has a deep passion for improving inequities to make industries more accessible. She has experience in research, designing and developing health projects, as well as innovation and analysis of programs to help enhance inclusion and health for inequity groups. 

Geoff Hawson

Geoff is a doctor who specialised in haematology, medical oncology and palliative care.  He worked on the Sunshine Coast at Nambour Hospital for 16 years before retiring from public practice. He is currently the senior doctor representative on The Australian Medical Association of Qld (AMA Qld) Council and has recently been appointed to the AMA Qld board. He is president of the Australian Senior Active Doctors Association (ASADA) where he is committed to a step-down registration for senior doctors, so their expertise is not lost.

He trained in Aikido in Brisbane for 15 years attaining a black belt. Geoff also has a Diploma in Hypnosis and is interested in financial markets with a Certificate in Financial Markets and a Diploma of Technical Analysis.

Geoff wishes to contribute to the disability sector by serving on the Compass board.