Helping Sylvanvale grow in a complex environment


Sylvanvale is a leader in the disability sector, providing high quality customer focused service for people with a disability, to live the life they choose. The organisation was founded in 1947 and has grown to support over 750 children and adults from a range of cultural backgrounds, providing services which enable their clients to live independently in their own homes, or with their families.

Leadership Space has worked with Sylvanvale over the past 5 years, walking beside the CEO and the critical Operations team as they navigate the ever-changing environment of the disability sector.

Our journey together

When we met Sylvanvale in 2015, the introduction of NDIS was in its early stages and the scheme was turning the disability sector on its head.  Organisations were working hard to transform from a service model in which they directly received government funding to one in which clients decided what services they wanted and which practitioners they wanted to provide them. Disability organisations were fighting to change and survive in the new competitive context.

Fortunately, Sylvanvale’s long held philosophy of providing high quality customer-focused service was closely aligned to the new world order. To adapt however, significant organisational and cultural change was required. One of the most critical of these was the introduction of a new team of Regional Managers as an additional level of operational leadership across the business. These Regional Managers needed to deepen the skills, knowledge and expertise of the managers and staff in each of the regions and carry 100% of Sylvanvale’s revenue responsibilities.

To bring the transformation to life, Sylvanvale says they knew integrated coaching was key:

“Working in the environment of the NDIS means constant change and challenge. What we have in Leadership Space is an independent partner walking beside our leaders and teams, co-creating opportunities with us to reflect and act in a coordinated way, both inside and outside the business.”
– Leanne Fretten, CEO

A snapshot of our work with Sylvanvale so far:

  • Executive coaching partnership with the CEO
    – from passing the baton from the incumbent CEO in 2015 Pauline Stanley, to Leanne Fretten during her First 90 Days in 2016 to the present.
  • Team coaching partnership with the Executive Team
    – co-creating team dynamics, facilitating strategic planning and supporting structural changes and updates.
  • Team coaching partnership with the Operations Leadership team
    – from their inception as a team, to co-creation of the purpose, culture, dynamics and ability to provide high quality consistent customer-focused service as well as financial sustainability for the business.
  • Executive coaching with each of the Operations leaders and the Executive
    – Operations to respond to and lead the opportunities and fast-moving challenges of the business.

Over the period that Leadership Space has worked with Sylvanvale, their turnover has increased from $44.8M to $71.5M, while also undertaking a focussed approach to improving the quality of services to the people they support.

As Sylvanvale continues to navigate the intense, sensitive and complex environment in which they operate, the story of what it takes to survive and thrive in the new environment continues to be written. What is certain is that Sylvanvale’s ability to be an agile and innovative leader in the environment has strengthened not weakened over the past 5 years, and it continues to passionately engage in the challenges and opportunities that ripple through and around the organisation, growing and providing more value and service to the people it cares about.

If you resonate with the story of Sylvanvale and would like to talk to us, please reach out. We’d love to connect.

If you resonate with the story of Sylvanvale and would like to talk to us, please reach out at or call 0400 405 323. We’d love to connect.



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