Specialised Down Syndrome Programs Come To Bendigo

Specialised Down Syndrome Programs Come To Bendigo

Inclusion Foundation supports people with Down syndrome in reaching their full potential.

Inclusion Foundation champions the Inclusion of people with Down syndrome in our communities – both socially and economically. We see an inclusive world where people with Down syndrome are equal, active and respected members of society.

We do this through two key programs

·       Impact21 – An employment matching program

·       emotion21 – A dance, fitness and wellbeing program

Inclusion Foundation programs are evidence-based and delivered by industry-leading professionals with proven experience in helping children and adults with Down syndrome reach their full potential.

And now we are coming to Bendigo!


Impact21, is an employment and personal development program for adults with Down syndrome and intellectual disability. Since 2019, Impact21 has proven success in matching people with Down syndrome with long-term meaningful employment.

Graduate, Jacqui Wischer, joined PwC in 2020 as a Consulting People and Culture Administration Assistant and continues to work there today;

“Impact21 really boosts up your self-esteem. I enjoy making new friends, having fun and working hard. I like having a job because I like to focus on my work tasks. It makes me feel like I am a very important person and a hard-working professional adult.”

Throughout the course, participants will learn valuable skills such as;

·       Working in a team

·       Workplace communication

·       Time management

·       Digital literacy

·       Professional Conduct

·       On the job coach provided by CVGT

In partnership with disability employment service provider CVGT, our experienced team works directly with individuals in the employment preparation stage. As we get to know each person, we learn more about their skills, strengths and interests. That informs how we match and place them in a workplace. It also guides how we continue to assist and support them once they’re on the job.

Participants will attend the course hosted by a provider based in Bendigo. This provides the capacity building and inclusive experience of commuting into a busy town and engaging with the program in a setting where same-aged peers are also studying and experiencing work.

The benefits of this program extend beyond employment in the open workforce, it is an opportunity to fully participate in the community as equals.

Excitingly, we will be launching our Impact21 Bendigo course pilot in July!

Young adults with Down syndrome, aged between 22 and 35, are encouraged to apply. This unique program will lead to increased social and civic inclusion, greater independence, and ultimately a sustainable, customised role in a national organisation.

Impact21, in partnership with CVGT, is a distinctive employment program. It places real people into real jobs with real wages. This innovative pilot program is funded by the Victorian Government, so there is no out-of-pocket cost for participants.



Running since 2009, emotion21 is a proven dance, fitness and wellbeing program for children,  teens and adults with Down syndrome. Using the latest research and techniques, we have a strengths-based curriculum tailored to meet the specific learning needs of people with Down syndrome.

Our team of experienced teachers and volunteers, including teachers with Down syndrome, create a nurturing environment of learning, celebrating the everyone’s individuality and ability.

emotion21 is an innovative and award-winning program with inclusion at its heart. Classes,

concerts, and performances are delivered in community settings and deliver tangible outcomes for participants including; better health and fitness, improved cognitive function, enriched confidence and self-esteem, and importantly, meaningful connections with their community.

Parents of current participants have lauded emotion21  claiming that outcomes have been life-changing for their children. Jenny’s daughter has been involved with emotion21 since 2017;

 “Our daughter’s self-esteem has skyrocketed. Confidence is not something that can be turned on and off. It shows in appearance, speech, movement, and behaviour.”

emotion21 is a caring and supportive community that celebrates individuality and creates new friendships. All ages are well – enrol in a class today!


Want to know more?

Attend our free Inclusion Foundation Information Night and speak with our directly with our team:

When:              Wednesday 1 June 2022

Time:                6pm to 7pm

Where:             CVGT, 17 Jackson Street, Long Gully 

We’re all part of the story

We're all part of the story

The ‘Move With Me – We’re All A Part Of The Story’ campaign was an opportunity for our community of people with Down syndrome to share their stories. The Inclusion Foundation supports people with disabilities contributing to the conversation around what it means to be an Australian.

The Inclusion Foundation’s emotion21 program is more than just dancing and fitness. It is about building nurturing and supportive communities. And that is just what happened this Australia Day when more than 52 emotion21 dancers gathered to Reflect, Celebrate and Celebrate.

The Inclusion Foundation acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the Traditional Custodians of the land we dance and learn on and pay our deepest respect to their Elders, past, present, and emerging.

emotion21 dancers share their Australian stories

emotion21 dancers share their Australian stories

Inclusion Foundation emotion21 participants are proud Australians and wanted to share their personal stories with you this Australia Day.

In a special social media campaign “Move with me. We’re all part of the story” dancers with Down syndrome invite their community to join them this Australia Day and do what they love doing most…dancing!

So get involved and get moving. Find your favourite Aussie tune and dance along with our emotion21 dancers. Share your dance on social media and hashtag #inclusionfoundation and #wereallpartofthestory and together we can Reflect, Respect, and Celebrate. 

The Inclusion Foundation acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the Traditional Custodians of the land we dance and learn on and pay our deepest respect to their Elders, past, present, and emerging. 

RADIANT – emotion21 dancers set to shine in online concert

RADIANT – 3 December 6 pm – 7.30 pm

The emotion21 annual concert, this year brought to you by DuluxGroup, is a great way to showcase the talent of our incredible dancers.

Come and celebrate their achievements and see our dancers shine on Friday 3 December from 6 to 7.30 pm. Everyone is welcome.

Hosted by Tim Campbell, the event promises to be a wonderful experience that demonstrates exactly how RADIANT our dancers are

Click here for tickets to the Kew, Pascoe Vale and Rowville Concert
Click here for Ballarat, Cranbourne, Geelong, Greensborough and Hoppers Crossing Concert

Won’t make the concert?

Don’t miss out on our amazing raffle!!

With a Smeg Fridge as first prize and a $1250 shopping spree as second, this raffle is our most exciting and prize-filled yet!


Impact21 Enrolments are now open!

We are now taking applications for Impact21 for 2022!

If you, or the person you support, would like to learn more about enrolling in Impact21, our innovative work readiness program, please come along to our special online information night on: Monday 22 November 2021 5.30 pm to 7 pm.

Impact21 programs start in March 2022, but we are taking expressions of interest now. Please register your interest and we will forward you a meeting link.


On the night we will answer questions about Impact21.

1. Impact21 program for 22 – 35-year-olds, third intake for 2022
2. Foundation program for 16-22-year-olds
3. Impact21 regional pilot in Bendigo

If you would like to learn more about the program, including the NDIS schedule, download our Parent and Key Support Person Information Kit now and come armed with all your queries.

2021 Impact Report Highlights Great Successes

2021 Impact Report Highlights Successes

As we finish off a year to remember for the Inclusion Foundation (and the world), we are pleased to share our 2021 Impact Report. Thanks to all of our wonderful supporters, we made some great strides in the last year, including navigating COVID, delivering over 45 emotion21 classes per week, and establishing and expanding Impact21. 

We want to thank everyone for supporting the Inclusion Foundation through one of our most challenging years yet. Together we have achieved a great deal. But most importantly, we have been able to continue championing the inclusion of people with Down syndrome.

Our participants will always remain at the heart of everything we do and the Impact Report is a great way to share our successes. Download the full report here and enjoy!

emotion21 concert, Radiant, raffle winners

Congratulations to our lucky winners! Thank you to everyone who purchased a ticket. Every dollar raised from the raffle will go towards supporting our amazing emotion21 dancers.

1st Prize

Sophie Blachford – Ticket Number: #202 won the Smeg FAB32 Lime Green Fridge valued at $3,290.

2nd Prize

Wendy Kortman – Ticket Number: #375 won the $1,250 shopping spree from brands such as JB Hi-Fi, Forever New, and Frankie 4 Shoes.

3rd Prize

Jo Pertile – Ticket Number: #554 won the special Food and Kitchen Pack valued at $455


It’s hard to believe but we are in October already and that means one thing for us – Down Syndrome Awareness Month!

October was first designated as Down Syndrome Awareness Month in the 1980s and has been recognised every year since.

The month is another opportunity to engage the wider community with a simple message – regardless of background, ethnicity, gender or ability, society often overlooks or ignores the obvious fact that behind every human face, is a person. A person who, despite seeing or experiencing the world differently to the rest of us, possess the same feelings, hopes and desires that we all do.

We have a number of exciting activities planned providing fun and active opportunities for all to get involved.

The first of which is a “Bake-a-long”

Inclusion Foundation’s very own Ash Hudson (impact21 Learning Support) is also a professional chef! He has cooked us up our very own Inclusion Foundation cupcake. Everyone can say ‘count me in!’ with this is a recipe that tastes fantastic while being gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free (You could almost say healthy!!).

Decorate them as you please and have fun, share your results with the community, post to your socials using the hashtags #21yourway #CountMeInCupcake. 

Click here to download the recipe.

#CountMeIn is the call from Corporate Australia as employers partner with Inclusion Foundation

Matthew Foo working in the cafe at DuluxGroup

Inclusion Foundation is excited to announce our 2021 corporate partners for the innovative program Impact21. This unique employer-driven program leads to meaningful and matched employment for Victorian employers and young adults living with Down syndrome and intellectual disability. The program has been co-designed with large-scale employer partners and was launched in 2019. Since then, the program has continued to support not only the worker but also the employer to achieve their diversity and inclusion objectives.

The Impact21 employer partners are SodexoJB H-FiTorrens University AustraliaACMIMelbourne Sports CentresTennis Australia and CVGT. These partnerships are a welcome addition to an already thriving program supporting a diverse workforce that leads to sustainable employment for Impact21 participants.

“ACMI is proud to join the program,” said ACMI Director & CEO Katrina Sedgwick OAM. “Our ACMI 2019-2022 Disability Action Plan was formulated to capture the spirit of our organisational values which include a commitment to inclusion and diversity. Impact21 is a wonderful opportunity to continue putting this commitment to diversity into action”.

The first of the two-year program provides personal and professional skill development in an environment where same aged peers are also studying. Torrens University facilitated this by hosting the program pilot. In 2021, an equitable learning experience in CBD campuses has been realised by the Centre for Adult Education and Torrens University. Program participants engage with employer partners throughout and move into matched employment with on-the-job learning and support.

Earlier this year, Impact21 graduate Matthew Foo (pictured) recommenced work at the DuluxGroup office in Clayton, working closely with the People Services team. Matthew has also recently joined the Ducaf team on a weekly basis working in the café. “Ducaf is the nice place to get a coffee and catch up with friends,” says Matthew who is really enjoying the new opportunity and experience working in the café.

“The Impact21 program facilitates the Tennis Australia inclusion and diversity strategy being implemented in daily practice,” said Craig Tiley, Tennis Australia CEO. “Customised employment allows us to really look at what we need as an organisation, work with the program participants, and understand their skills and interests, to then align for meaningful employment.”

A mere 7 per cent of Australians think people with disabilities are supported “very well”, according to the Australia Talks National Survey 2021. Inclusion Foundation aims to increase this percentage through the Impact21 program with targeted support to participants as well as their employers. Further, according to the Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 48 (2018) 417–431 “the most important factor indicating best practice in employment of people with disability was strong connections with and understanding of disability support networks.”

Inclusion Foundation works to bridge this gap with a long-term goal of creating a world where people with an intellectual disability are equal, active, respected members of society. With less than 5% of working-aged individuals with Down syndrome in open employment, programs such as Impact21 are a shining light for inclusion in the workforce.

Inclusion Foundation is proud to be leading the way to an inclusive future with the innovative program Impact21 and forward-thinking partners.

A new beginning for Inclusion Foundation!

In late 2020 we were excited to announce our new name, Inclusion Foundation, in recognition of our expanded remit to provide employment pathways to people with Down syndrome.

We are equally excited to launch our new brand, purpose and values.

Since 2009, Inclusion Foundation remains committed to championing inclusion for people with Down syndrome across all levels and aspects of society. We believe it is vitally important for all Australians to meet and understand more about the person behind the disability. As such, to further support our purpose we have created a compelling and enduring brand platform.

We believe we have created an environment that embodies the sense of empowerment, determination and support our organisation presents to thousands of Australians with Down syndrome and their families.

Brand Background

Inclusion Foundation is a for-purpose-charity that champions the inclusion of people with Down Syndrome. Together, we stand proud, we raise our hands in the air, and we to say, “Count me in!” to society, to business, to governments, to everyone, and anyone.

We are proud to introduce Count Me In! as our new tag line. This is a confident statement designed to inspire whilst bringing a hopeful optimism, it promotes positive possibilities. This strong call to action says there is, and should be, a place in society for those with Down syndrome and empowers employers and the broader community to adopt an open mindset. You’ll see this used across our digital platforms and if you don’t already, please be sure to follow us on social media.

Our reimagined look and feel has been designed with a modern and distinctive brand identity. This includes a suite of logos for the Inclusion Foundation, emotion21 and impact21. The brand identity is inspired by chromosome 21 and we believe the brand visually reflects themes of inclusion, positivity, diversity and respect.

Our purpose is simple. We want to change how the world views and values people with Down syndrome. We want to build an inclusive world where people with Down syndrome are equal, active and respected members of society.

We promise to do this through;

  • Engagement with our community and championing inclusion;
  • Empowerment through social inclusion and facilitating greater independence;
  • Education for everyone involved, particularly elevating and inspiring people with Down Syndrome to do more, be more and achieve more; and
  • Energy, positivity and passion to fill a room with infectious spirit and zest for life!

We encourage everyone involved with Inclusion Foundation to embrace and embody our values:

  • Be proud: Whether it is engendering pride in those with Down syndrome or taking pride in striving towards our vision, being proud is critical to all that we are, all that we do, and all that we want to overcome.
  • Act with kindness: Without exception or excuse, kindness is a non-negotiable within the Inclusion Foundation, while a kinder society to those with Down syndrome is a key objective we seek to achieve.
  • Show courage: From dealing with day-today obstacles, to striving to achieve our important goals, our journey is one that needs a lot of courage. The courage to be yourself. The courage to highlight what’s wrong and stand up for what’s right. And the courage to keep going. Always.
  • Open heart and mind: We are a head and heart organisation. Open your heart to others, show empathy and compassion, embrace difference and diversity. But equally, open your mind to new ideas and new ways to do things. Be open to change. Be open to inclusion.
  • See the person, alwaysInside everybody, behind every face, underneath all levels of human ability is a person with a unique story. Understanding and being empathetic to an individual’s story, their abilities, their perspective, and their family, is core to all that we do.

Logo and Identity

Trisomy or Down syndrome occurs when there are three separate copies of chromosome 21 instead of the usual two. With this in mind, the logos and identity have been developed with the theme of three to cohesively unify the brand through colour.

The Inclusion Foundation Brand Family

Inclusion Foundation – Leading the way towards an inclusive future.

Whether you’re a child with Down syndrome, a young person with Down syndrome seeking employment or a parent or carer of someone with Down syndrome, the Inclusion Foundation is here to inspire, empower, campaign and support. In short, the Inclusion Foundation exists to promote inclusion for people with Down syndrome and make sure the broader community understand and value the experiences of people with Down syndrome and their families.

Emotion21 – Moving towards an inclusive future.

Supported and promoted by the Inclusion Foundation, emotion21 provides innovative dance and fitness programmes for children and young adults with Down syndrome. Through performance-based activities and community engagement, emotion21 aims to enhance lives for people with Down syndrome. The benefits of the emotion21 programme are wide-ranging and include health, exercise, social and self-esteem outcomes for participants. These benefits in turn positively impact our student’s families and the community at large.

Impact21 – Working towards an inclusive future.

Supported and promoted by the Inclusion Foundation, the impact21 employment programme is a one-of-a kind work readiness and personal growth programme for early school leavers and adults with Down syndrome. Through impact21, students will gain a customised role in a national company earning award wage. They will have opportunities to increase social and civic inclusion, greater independence, and grow in their work skills and careers.

As we move towards a more inclusive world, we ask you to join us with a courageous heart and count yourself in. We look forward to developing and expanding our reach and encourage you to feel proud of your participation in the journey, knowing every step we take, makes a difference in the lives of those living with Down syndrome, their families, and our community. As we move into this new phase with a refreshed and stronger brand there is really only one thing left to say! “Count me in!”.