Meet the Crew: Andrew Diggines

Name: Andrew Diggines

Compass Crew Since: 2009

Role: Compass Farm Manager

What attracted you to this role?
I was electrician before my role with Compass. I liked helping young people achieve their goals and dreams and I thought I could transfer my skills to people with disabilities in the same way as my apprentices.

What is the favourite part of your day at Compass?
My interaction with our trainees. Every day they surprise me and teach me something new. I like coming to the farm early in the mornings. It is a quiet and magical place; it prepares me for the day ahead.

What is something you have learned as a result of working in the disability support sector?
I’ve learned a lot working in the disability sector, everybody has a gift. Our trainees might have a disability and have lost something or are unable to do something but there is always another side, there is always something they have been gifted with. I have learned a lot about myself as well, about how lucky I am, how it is not all about money or a goal, it is about the journey and enjoying the moment. I love how honest the trainees are – sometimes cutting – but always honest.

What is something you wish people knew about your role or about the disability community?
I would like the community to know that even though we have a disability we have something to offer. This may not be in a conventional way or in the ability to do a job, but they can bring happiness and joy, the willingness to accept everybody with no judgement. I would like people to know that my role, in my opinion, is one of the most amazing jobs that anyone could have. The opportunity to guide, mentor, change people’s lives in a positive way and not only their lives but also their families’ lives. There are many stories and incidents that I have been lucky enough to have been part of that have profoundly changed the course of somebody’s life for the better.

If there was anything you could change, what would it be?
If there was anything that I could change it would be that large organisations and businesses would employ a person with a disability – the benefits of this, nationwide, would be huge. I also wish that everybody had the opportunity to interact with a person with a disability to breakdown those barriers and assumptions that people have. At the end of the day, we are all human and everyone has something to offer, it’s just getting the opportunities.

Any final words / comments / funny anecdotes etc?
I have many comments or funny anecdotes but I think my final words would be I believe everybody with a disability should have the opportunity to contribute and to live their lives to the best of their abilities with the support of the community. Not just taking but truly living and contributing to our nation. ... Read more


Compass celebrates 20 Years with a heartfelt Country Shindig and a one-of-a-kind Photo Exhibition

Celebrating 20 years of changing lives on a daily basis, The Compass Institute Inc put on the party of the year with their 20th Birthday Compass Shindig, which included local singing sensation Taylor Moss headlining the event.

In true Compass style, at Venue 114, their 20-year journey was celebrated with a grass-roots, authentic, feel-good country music extravaganza, which showcased some of the talented Compass Trainees in their country best and a cracking whip cracker, literally. The event acted as a major fundraiser for Compass, who are about to embark on a new Masterplan for their Hunchy Farm, bringing more opportunity and services to those that Compass supports. Thanks to the incredible support of over 320 attendees on the day, Compass was able to raise almost $100,000 to go towards building these greater facilities and opportunities for trainees today and into the future.

As an added bonus, attendees were provided with an exclusive first look at Compass’ exciting new campaign – a one-of-a-kind photo exhibition, launched in conjunction with the 20-year anniversary, called See the Able, Not the Label.  These images that were unveiled for the first time on Friday, showcase a selection of Compass Trainees in stunning portraits alongside their heartfelt stories of transformation and growth, and aims to inspire others to drop labels and commonly held misconceptions of people with intellectual disabilities.

You can now view these incredible images and read the stories at

Sandra Brodie, Head of Business and Growth at the Compass Institute, says, “For me, getting to personally know each individual, their families and their incredible journeys of strength, courage and perseverance has been an absolute honour and an experience that will remain with me forever. They all have incredible journeys and I’ve learned so much by listening and know that stories like these will also touch many other people’s lives in the community”.

Of course, this event would not have been the success it was without the help of some of the amazing supporters and partners of Compass.

A special thank you goes out to Compass’ now 10-year Corporate Partners – and friends – Cricks Sunshine Coast.

Cricks were the presenting partner for the 20th Birthday Shindig but the relationship with Cricks goes far beyond this one event. They have supported the launch of new social enterprises, to gift assistance dogs to multiple local families in need, to provide essential transportation to our trainees, to connect Compass with new potential partners, to deliver exceptional fundraising events that help Compass deliver critical projects, and even to provide vocational and employment pathways beyond Compass for some of the trainees. The words Thank You don’t even begin to express how truly grateful Compass is to have Cricks support the work to help so many people in the local community.

Also thank you to Gold Event Partners, NCP Bathroom Centre, Silver Event Partners AIB Australia, ENTAG and Queensland Timber Flooring, and our Event Collaborators White House International (who did an amazing job) and Media Partners at 91.1 Hot FM.

Further thank you to our prize sponsors, who provided some incredible experiences and prizes; See Restaurant, Paradise Rum, Sunshine & Sons, Harri Jones Racing and Porsche Motorsport Australia, Diamondvale Cottages Stanthorpe, Opals Down Under, Lauren Biggs Photography, Minor Hotels / Oak Resorts, Kokomo Cruises Gold Coast.

To all the event attendees who showed up and got behind the Compass cause, from purchasing tables, to raffles, to the special ‘Shovel Drive’ and of course engaging in the Live Auction, it is with humble and warm hearts that Compass says thank you.

Lastly, no country shindig can go past a bit of toe tapping and boot scooting to the country tones of Taylor Moss, The Wet Whistles and Beth Lucas! The line dances and do-si-do’s were out in force. Yee Haw!

... Read more

Compass Trainees_Caitlin Larson_Levi Maddox_Mark Giuliano


The old saying, “It takes a village”, is the best way to describe The Compass Institute’s newest social enterprise venture.

Located in the heart of Maroochydore, the new for-purpose café is a unique collaboration between The Compass Institute, one of the Sunshine Coast’s longest standing disability services, and The Avenue Retirement Village, which is home to 113 resort-style independent living apartments for over 60’s.

Named after Compass’ first social enterprise café in Nambour, Connections Café Maroochydore provides vocational training opportunities for local individuals with disabilities and offers a wide selection of food and drink options, all made in-house, to both residents of The Avenue and the local community.

“Late last year, out of the blue, I got a phone call from a lovely lady asking about whether Compass would be interested in opening a new social enterprise café in Maroochydore,” said Compass Head of Business and Growth, Sandra Brodie.

“Some of the residents at The Avenue had been to our other social enterprise cafés on the Coast and loved what we were about and the experience they’d had with our Trainees, so were advocating for Compass to be the café of choice to operate from their premises. To us, this was a huge compliment, as The Avenue is not their place of business, it’s their home.

“After looking at the space and meeting the team and resident community at The Avenue, we knew this was a very unique opportunity. Beyond the prospect of creating further opportunities for our Trainees for vocational training, was the opportunity to connect an older generation into the magic that young people with disabilities bring, and vice versa, on a day-to-day basis.”

This was something that was also evident to the management team behind The Avenue.

“A well-run café brings a vibrance to a village – it creates a place to meet, a delicious alternative to cooking, as well as a great opportunity to connect with the local community and support local business,” said Aura Holdings CEO, Sean Graham.

Before the new café could become a reality, there was a need for funding to activate the space. And in true Sunshine Coast spirit, the local business community came to the call. Over 130 local business men and women came together at the 2022 Compass Institute Golf Day which is proudly supported by Cricks Sunshine Coast and raised over $50,000 to utilise the opportunity.

The cafe opened quietly in late 2022 and this past Tuesday February 14th on Valentines Day, the team at Connections Café decided it was time to make their mark, share the love and say thank you to the community that bought them to life. The Connections Café team delivered over 113 thank you treats to the residents of the Avenue and over 50 “taster boxes” showcasing their finest sweets to local Maroochydore businesses.

“We believe in the magic of community and now we are proud to be able to share a little of that magic back,” said Sandra.

“And what better time to do that than Valentine’s Day!”

Connections Café Maroochydore is open Monday – Friday, 7:30am – 2:30pm, and is open to both residents of The Avenue Retirement Village and the broader community. The café located on the Ground Floor of The Avenue at 32 Baden Powell St, Maroochydore.

          ... Read more

© 2020 Eyes Wide Open Images  Barry Alsop


Compass Open Days are a great way to see our various campuses, explore our programs, meet our passionate team and trainees, and experience some Compass magic!

Compass is hosting FIVE Open Days this year and invite anyone interested in meeting us and seeing what we do first hand to attend. This includes current families, who may want to meet other current families; prospective trainees and families; support co-ordinators; school and special school representatives; community members; members of the business community; interested volunteers… ALL are welcome!

Join us from 10am – 1pm at one or more of our Campuses! 

    • CALOUNDRA CampusWednesday 12th October
      • ADDRESS: Central Park Rd, Caloundra
      • Free Parking On-Site
    • GYMPIE Campus – Tuesday 25th October
      • ADDRESS: 25 Lady Mary Terrace, Gympie
      • Free parking on-site
    • NAMBOUR Campus – Wednesday 26th October
      • ADDRESS: C-Square, 53-64 Currie St, Nambour – Ground Floor (Courtyard level)
      • Free parking at Nambour Train Station
    • FARM Campus – Wednesday 2nd Nov
      • ADDRESS: 48 Christensens Road, Hunchy
      • Free parking on-site
    • CABOOLTURE TAFE Campus – Thursday 3rd November 
      • ADDRESS: TAFE Queensland Caboolture Campus,
        Tallon St, Caboolture – E Block Building
      • Free parking onsite. Enter via Tallon St and follow
        signs to reach us at E Block!



DOWNLOAD OUR OPEN DAY FLYER HERE:  Compass Open Day Flyer 2022

See you there!


  ... Read more

Pyney's Pie Day 2_IMG_5432


The second annual Pyney’s Pie Day was held on Saturday September 3rd with a record number of bakeries across Australia participating to help raise funds for local charity Compass.

Pyney’s Pie Day is the brainchild of Shaun Pyne, a former mortgage broker turned pie connoisseur and social media sensation whose social media site regularly clocks up hundreds of thousands of views.

“Last year our inaugural Pyney’s Pie Day raised over $50,000 to help fund DV and mental health programs and after participating in a Compass Golf Day last year and then seeing the incredible work they do with their trainees at their Palmwoods farm, I knew we could make a real difference.

“I’m thrilled to have 69 bakeries across Australia including 15 from Caloundra to Gympie committed to participate this Saturday with $1 from the sale of each pie going straight to Compass.  I’m encouraging everyone to get into their local participating outlets as we aim to raise $100,000 this year and my long term fundraising goal is to hit $1 million from a single day of selling pies,” Shaun said.

Shaun and his wife have spent much of the past year travelling across Queensland and interstate, visiting small towns and supporting local bakeries by purchasing, eating, reviewing and promoting the humble pie and the town where they originate.

“Regional towns across Australia are doing it really tough and just like the local pub, family owned bakeries are the centrepiece of most towns but they are a dying breed. I’m keen to visit every pie shop in Australia to help promote tourism and the great pies from each town,” he said.

Compass Head of Business and Growth Sandra Brodie said she was thrilled Compass was chosen to be this year’s charity of choice for Pyney’s Pie Day.

“We just love everything that Shaun is doing and to be the beneficiary of this year’s fundraising is not only great for us financially, but it also helps raise awareness of the life changing work we undertake with all of our trainees.

“It’s such a fun yet simple way to fundraise, there’s a pie to suit almost every taste so it’s easy for everyone to participate and it’s really rewarding to know $1 from the sale of each pie goes direct to Compass,” Sandra added.


Participating Sunshine Coast bakeries include:

  • Kenilworth Bakery – Kenilworth and Mooloolaba
  • Woombye Bakery
  • Maleny Bakery
  • The Pie Guy Maleny
  • The Yard/Beach Rd Coffee Co
  • Pomona Bakery
  • Peregian Bakery
  • The German Bakehouse at Coolum and Cooroy
  • The Bunker Smokehouse Gympie (doing Friday)
  • Noosa Outlook Bakery
  • Richies Bakery at Tewantin and Cooroy
  • Ricks Artisan Pies and Sourdough – Noosa

To find out more about this brilliant initiative and this full list of participating bakeries contributing to the cause,  visit

  ... Read more



A number of local businesses and community groups have come together to help transform Nambour’s Compass Connections Café into a funky food, coffee and art destination with the ultimate goal of elevating how disability is seen within the community.

Compass Head of Business and Growth Sandra Brodie said the Connections Café opened six years ago with the goal of providing real world vocational opportunities and skills-based training for people with disabilities, which included food preparation, cooking, waiting on tables, point of sale and even barista skills.

“Compass Connections Café has become one of our most successful and vibrant social enterprises. The community has really embraced us since day one and have become part of the fabric of the café.

“The best part is seeing the interactions between customers and our Trainees. The Trainees love engaging with people and take real pride in serving them, they know they have a genuine valued role to play every day and that really shines through. They bring so much joy and presence into every encounter, and because of that our customers are always walking away with a smile and an experience of something that feels unique.

“We’ve had over 50 Trainees undertake vocational training at the café since we opened in 2016. They all work closely in a supported environment alongside our full-time staff to ensure customers have a memorable experience. Our team serves beautiful breakfast and lunch meals, as well as sweet treats that are all made in-house, and a full selection of coffees, teas and milkshakes from Monday to Friday.

“Whilst the café has been operating successfully for six years, we saw the potential to really take it to the next level. A big driver for that and other major transformations we’ve done recently, including our retail social enterprise in Nambour, Wabi Sabi Creations, comes from our vision to raise the profile of people with disabilities and to shift perceptions of what they are capable of.

“The end result of our stage one refurbishment of the café is incredible. It’s not only a café with a purpose, it’s a showcase of the incredible talents across Compass and presented in way that’s worthy of any trendy city in Australia, whilst still being welcoming and inclusive.

“Customers are greeted with a stunning range of artwork on the wall and shelves, which have been produced by Compass trainees, and 80% of the furniture is either second-hand or re-purposed from across the Sunshine Coast community, so it’s got that funky feel which makes you want to stay a little longer while you soak in the atmosphere,” Sandra said.

Compass CEO David Dangerfield said the Café’s three week major transformation would not have been possible without the support of the local business community.

“What we have created is something unique, a destination café with a purpose, that has become a hallmark of the Nambour community. And it would not have been possible without the assistance of our long term partners at Cricks Sunshine Coast who have supported us since we first opened six years ago.

“The Sundale Foundation also provided grant funding in support of the beautiful mural out the front of the building, which was completed by local street artist Ross Holloway. The mural is now part of the Nambour Street Art Trail and ensures our café is a destination for locals and visitors alike.

“Danni Morrison of Design By Danni worked closely with us on our previous Nambour transformation project, Wabi Sabi, and has been instrumental to the new design of the space in helping to bring our vision to life, alongside local builder Matt Hynes of Hynes Built, who spent countless hours completing the renovations of the space and did an incredible job.

“We’ve also ramped up our offer with off-site catering while a number of local businesses people and community groups use the café for meetings. Everyone gets a kick out of it because they know they are supporting a really unique social enterprise – and the good news is that this is just the beginning! We are now gearing up to take the café to another exciting level so I encourage people to watch this space.” David added.

Connections Café is one of many social enterprises operated by the Compass Institute. Compass has also established other cafes in Tanawha and Caloundra, a fully functional 20 acre organic farm with art spaces, woodworking and a commercial kitchen, the Wabi Sabi retail outlet, and an Assistance Dogs Program. These enterprises complement their leading edge learning and development campuses, which operate from Caboolture through to Gympie, all aimed at supporting and empowering young people with physical and/or intellectual disabilities.

Watch this story on Channel 7 News:

... Read more



This April, Compass delivered its first ever Autism Awareness Campaign, designed to “Shine A Light” on Autism Spectrum Disorders and to raise funds in support of Compass programs and services that support local people with ASD.

This campaign was powered by local electricity provider, LPE, and included a range of events and activations across April to raise awareness of ASD, drive acceptance and understanding, and to raise funds.

Compass has a range of programs that have been developed to support children and young adults on the spectrum and are proud to work every day to ensure that the community is inclusive for all abilities and also is a place where opportunity is available.

Compass beyond grateful to sponsors LPE, who are leaders in their field and an exemplary organisation supporting local organisations and providing local jobs. Compass also partnered with 92.7 MIX FM and Todd & Sami, My Weekly Preview, Sunshine Coast News, Sunshine Valley Gazette, White’s IGA and Cérge.

Over the course of April, Compass:

  • Hosted over 160 local businessmen and women at the Compass Institute Race Night on 1st April, which on its own, raised over $11,000 towards the Compass Assistance Dogs (CAD) program. The CAD Program trains and gifts puppies to support local children with ASD and has proven time and again to be an incredibly successful early intervention program that can completely change the trajectory of a child’s life and that of their family.
  • Ran a very successful Corporate Workshop to business leaders from across multiple leading organisations on the Coast on “Understanding Autism and How It Can Make You A Better Leader”
  • Received full sponsorship of a Compass Assistance Dog from campaign partners LPE to the value of $30,000
  • Raised over $37,000 from our 10-day on-air appeal with Todd and Sammi on MIX FM, which will go towards ASD-specific resources and programs across Compass Campuses
  • Delivered many informative and interactive training sessions for staff across Compass Campuses to ensure internal up-skilling and continued high quality service provision in this space
  • Welcomed over 100 people to the Coast’s first ever Silent Disco, which was a HUGE hit and also introduced us to many new faces from the disability community who had an incredible time at what was a very fun and all-inclusive night
In total, Compass raised over $77,000 directly as a result of our April Campaign, shared multiple powerful real-life stories with the community and welcomed many new partners on board.

This will be the first of many Compass Autism Awareness Campaigns and we look forward to continuing to build on our mission to raise awareness, understanding and funds in support of local people with ASD.

For more information, visit our Campaign website at


  ... Read more


Compass launches new retail social enterprise showcasing disability talent

Division 10 Councillor David Law, along with Compass Founder and CEO, David Dangerfield, has officially opened the Compass Institute’s new retail social enterprise in Nambour, “Wabi Sabi Creations”.

Wabi Sabi Creations is a unique social enterprise selling hand-crafted pieces made by local people with disabilities in a supported environment, who attend one of the many Compass Institute Campuses. It will also soon offer opportunities for people with intellectual and/or physical disabilities attending Compass to undertake supported retail traineeships in the store.

“I am delighted to celebrate the opening of Wabi Sabi Creations here in the centre of Nambour”, said Cr David Law.

“There are two key features with this new retail outlet coming to town. Firstly they are demonstrating their belief in Nambour and its strong future. And secondly, it makes perfect sense for Wabi Sabi Creations to choose Nambour because our town is known for its diverse community where everyone belongs.”

Wabi Sabi Creations is one of many social enterprises founded by the Compass Institute, all of which aim to provide hands-on skills-based training and vocational pathways to people with disabilities, along with challenging community perceptions about what people with disabilities are really capable of.

“There is a hidden assumption in mainstream society that a person with a disability is a liability”, said Mr. Dangerfield. “And that as such, they are best supported by welfare style solutions.

“At Compass we start with the assumption that a person with a disability is an asset, and like all assets, is best supported by learning, development and vocational opportunities.

“The Compass social enterprise model opens up a world of opportunity for people with a disability to experience and be seen in valued roles – as shop assistants, as creative artists, as baristas and very importantly, as role models to younger children with disabilities who can begin to dream that they can be whatever and whoever they want to be.

Wabi Sabi Creations also adds to Compass’ growing presence in Nambour. In May this year, Compass opened a new Learning and Development Campus just across the courtyard in C-Square – its sixth Campus – focusing on structured learning, development and creative programs for people with intellectual disabilities.

Compass has also been successfully operating a social enterprise café on Nambour Connection Road, Connections Café, for over 5 years now. This enterprise has offered meaningful vocational opportunities for over 50 young people with disabilities over this time and is about to undergo a transformation to allow for even bigger opportunities in the near future.

“Compass has successfully transplanted into Nambour, a complete ecosystem that supports school leavers to access further learning, skills-based training and genuine vocational experiences”, said Mr. Dangerfield.

“We encourage the young person to explore their abilities, to think big and to work hard to become their ideal self.

“We’ve been asked ‘Why Nambour?’, and the response is: Because we believe in Nambour as a community of people, who want the best for their sons and daughters whether they have a disability or not.

“When you believe in people and in communities, they invariably rise up to meet those expectations. Compass is proud to be a part of the redevelopment of this community.”

The Compass Institute has been operating for over 25 years and provides further education, skills-based training and vocational pathways to young people with intellectual and physical disabilities across multiple campuses and social enterprises from Caboolture through to Gympie.

You will find the new Wabi Sabi Creations store at C-Square, 52-64 Currie St, Nambour. ... Read more