Family First At Bear Cottage

Tucked away in a quiet corner above Manly Beach is Bear Cottage, the only children’s hospice in NSW for children with life limiting conditions.

COVERED. found out more about the special programs for the children and their families

Looking out over the spectacular Northern Beaches coastline, Bear Cottage is a home away from home for many of the families who visit.

The hospice provides support, respite and end of life care for children with life-limiting illnesses and their families.

The majority of families are from NSW although Bear Cottage cares for children from across Australia, from newborn infants to those up to 18-years-old.

The children are often accompanied by their parents and siblings and the hospice has a range of programs for the family.

Liz Arnott, social worker at Bear Cottage, explains, “That’s what makes us unique. When the children come here they often come with their families. Our goal is to support the whole family.”

With this in mind Bear Cottage has run wellness and pamper camps for mums, a Pitt Stop camp for dads and events and programs for siblings and, most recently, grandparents.

And this all comes at a cost. It is $10,000 for a family of four to stay at Bear Cottage for a week. The annual running costs total $3.6 million and while there is some government funding for clinical staff salaries, the majority has to be raised through sponsorship and donations.

Bronwen Simmons, community relations manager, says, “We have done dads camps where they hang out and go fishing and golfing but the recent one was where dads focused on wellness, nutrition and fitness.”

Liz says the beauty of Bear Cottage is that they can customise programs to address what the families need. 

“It’s great for the parents to hear about the issues other parents have because these are not things they can discuss with just anyone like work colleagues,” adds Bronwen.

“It can be so isolating for parents and their lives are often consumed by their child and caring for that child. With our programs, we try to get them to forge connections through different activities and interactions."

Bear Cottage also runs ongoing bereavement support through its Footprints in the Sand program. Families can access this for as long as they need. It includes a weekend camp for our bereaved families, providing them with an opportunity to share happy and sad memories and connect with other families with similar experiences to theirs. 

This year, for the first time, Bear Cottage ran a camp for grandparents. “It’s about normalizing the experience, especially with the grandparent’s camp. They tend not to talk about things because they are protecting their families," says Liz.

Bear Cottage accepts donations from businesses, groups, individuals or money raised through corporate sponsorship, from fundraising events and special school support. For more information or to make a donation contact

Bear Ears is an initiative that can help raise funds. Ozsale donated $20,000 to Bear Cottage and Britt Collinson, owner of Britt Australia, used the money to make bear ears that can be
-    Sold on for charity
-    Bought by individuals as presents or party treats
-    Sold on by businesses

Britt says, “This way the money donated increases and spreads the word about Bear Cottage. The ears are perfect for party bags or presents but some businesses just buy them and sell them on as part of a fundraising drive.”

They start from as little as $5 for felt ears, $10 for Fake Fur Ears and $20/25 for Diamante ears. Anyone wanting to order should contact Britt on 0411 600 789 or visit:

Bear Cottage General enquiries: 02 9976 8300 // Fundraising enquiries:
02 9976 8307 //