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Special Needs Children Retreat

About Caitlin’s Retreat

Caitlin’s Retreat has been inspired by the life of Caitlin Darbyshire. Caitlin passed away in August 2006 aged 8, after a lifelong battle with a complex genetic brain disorder.

Although severely handicapped, Caitlin lived a happy life filled with adventures, experiences and opportunities. Most importantly she was surrounded by the love of her family and all who came to know her.

special needs children activities | special needs children retreat | retreat for special needs children | activities for special needs childrenThe Retreat

Now imagine a beautiful retreat, close to Melbourne, easily accessed and with the appropriate living facilities to accommodate Special Needs Children. A place where the whole family can get away for a few days, go outside, connect with nature, relax and be a family, together.

When fully operational, the Retreat accommodation will be accessible to up to 300 families a year. Day visit activities will be offered to at least another 5,000 people.

A very exciting aspect of Caitlin’s Retreat, will be a small collection of farm animals. This will provide children with a unique opportunity to interact with animals at close range.

About Caitlin

Caitlin enjoyed the simple things in life. She loved exploring new environments, and the sensory delights of being outdoors; from the sun, wind, water and sounds. Her family took her on family vacations and outings, which were of great value, not only to Caitlin, but to her siblings and extended family.

In her short life Caitlin touched the lives of many different people quite profoundly. A beautiful child, she radiated an intense presence that captivated all around her. Unable to speak, her eyes were her means of communicating, with an alluring intensity that transcended both her youth, and her ultimate frailty. It was as if she was always destined for a greater purpose.

Perhaps part of that purpose is inspiring the development of Caitlin’s Retreat; a unique place for Special Needs children and their families, to immerse themselves in and connect with nature.

Most importantly, Caitlin’s Retreat will enable Special Needs families to stop being a Special Needs family for a moment, and just enjoy being a family.

Having loved and cared for a special needs child, I know all too well the financial, physical and emotional costs of caring for these children. The cost of specialised equipment for transportation, mobility, bathing, feeding and personal hygiene is exorbitant. There are practical issues of accessibility to venues, and of availability of appropriate bathing and toileting facilities. There is the emotional toll of the never ending exhausting routines and responsibilities.

There is the isolation that comes from being “different”. Most families of Special Needs Children have very limited, if any opportunities for day trips or holidays. Often, if they are fortunate enough to do so, it is in the guise of “respite” from their child.

Andrew Darbyshire is also an Inspirational Speaker

Andrew Darbyshire – Caitlin’s Dad, Founder and Benefactor of Caitlin’s Retreat a place for children with special needs and their families.


Andrew’s appointments include: * Past board member of the Song Room * Board member of Florey Neurosciences Foundation Council * Past Board member Zoos Victoria Foundation * Board member of Petstock Foundation * Past Chairman of CAPRA - Child Abuse Prevention Research Australia @ Monash * Chairman of The Click Foundation  * Fundraising Committee of SecondBite * Patron and Founder of Caitlin’s Retreat * Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors * Chairman of Rees Partners Advisory Group