Weemala History 2

Our History

Caring since 1899

Royal Rehab’s story begins with Susan Schardt, who, born blind herself, was concerned that nothing was provided for hospital patients discharged as “incurable”, often with no family, money or ability to work.

In 1899 Miss Schardt rented a cottage in Sydney’s Surry Hills and established the Common wealth Home for Destitute Individuals to do something about this.

The value of her work was soon recognised, with Henry Rawson, governor of NSW, becoming patron of the home in 1901. In 1906, now known as NSW Homes for Incurables, it moved to its current Ryde site when the Hon. Henry Moses, MLC, offered his property. ‘Weemala’ opened with 65 beds in December.

Services and facilities have steadily expanded ever since. ‘Moorong’ opened in 1924 to care for cancer patients and has housed the spinal injury unit since 1988. ‘Coorabel’ opened in 1967, providing adult rehabilitation services. The brain injury unit opened in 1992.

The new ‘Weemala’ opened in 2011 and construction began on the new Rehabilitation Centre, completed in September 2013.

The centre’s name changed twice more before becoming the Royal Rehabilitation Centre Sydney in 1990. In 2014 we re-launched our name to ‘Royal Rehab’, The Rehabilitation & Disability Support Network.


Over a century of care.

A timeline

1899 Miss Susan Schardt establishes a home for sixteen ‘incurables’, along with a nurse to care for them.

1901 The Governor of NSW, The Hon. Henry Rawson, becomes patron of the Commonwealth Home for Destitute Invalids, as it was then called.

1905 The name is changed to NSW Homes for Incurables.

1906 With more space urgently needed, the governor calls a public meeting in the Sydney Town Hall. The Hon. Henry Moses, MLC, offers to contribute his property in Ryde. In December, ‘Weemala’ opens with 65 beds.

1924 The Moorong building opens with 24 beds for patients with malignant growths.

1934 Founder Susan Schardt dies at the Home.

1954 Another name change to Royal Ryde Homes.

1967 The Coorabel building opens with 114 beds to provide rehabilitation services.

1969 The extended and remodeled Weemala building opens with 176 beds, an increase of 74.

1973 Nine private rooms and a hydrotherapy pool added to the Coorabel building.

1978 Royal Ryde Homes becomes Royal Ryde Rehabilitation Hospital.

1979 The community health care day centre opens. In 1991 this was relocated to the Coorabel building – Spinesafe is now housed in this area.

1985 The education centre is added to the Coorabel building.

1987 The spinal injury unit opens.

1989 First accredited occupational rehabilitation unit is started.

1990 Name changed to Royal Rehabilitation Centre Sydney.

1991 Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS) grants accreditation for three years.

1992 Motor Accidents Authority chair of rehabilitation medicine is established at the University of Sydney, with professor located on site at Royal Rehabilitation Centre Sydney.

1993 Weemala community integration program began with the opening of two community houses.

1993 Coorabel building refurbished and modernised.

1994 ACHS accreditation renewed (three years).

1996 Orthopaedic and neurological units amalgamated to form the Coorabel Adult Rehabilitation Service (CARS).

1996 Affiliation with the University of Western Sydney.

1997 Centre for developmental disability studies established.

1999 Chair of rehabilitation nursing established in collaboration with the University of Western Sydney Nepean.

Rehabilitation nursing research and development unit opened.

Home based rehabilitation service established.

2000 Centenary celebrations.

Three boarding houses opened under community integration program 2001.

One transition house was opened under Community Integration Program.

2001 Telerehabilitation commences.

2007 Gait Centre opened.

Centre for community based health care established.

2008 Granting of approval from NSW Planning to the overall concept development plan for the hospital and medical centre, community facilities and residential development.

2011 New Weemala opened.

2012 New Royal Rehab building opened.