Our history

History

North Queensland Society for Crippled Children

Cootharinga is a Not for Profit and iconic charitable community organisation which plays a major role in North Queensland communities by supporting people who live with disabilities.

It's rich history demonstrates how a group of caring and committed citizens can start a chain of events that changed the world for people with disabilities.

Cootharinga was founded in 1951 in response to community concerns for the care, education and training of children who contracted poliomyelitis during the poliomyelitis epidemic. Cootharinga was originally called the North Queensland Society for Crippled Children.

The official opening of the Cootharinga Home for Crippled Children on 22 June, 1957 was the fulfilment of more than six years of volunteering and hard work since Cootharinga had been established. Fifty years on, shows further dedication by volunteers, particularly who have served as Directors.

The Nursing home was located at the base of Mt Cootharinga, now known as Castle Hill. After a public competition, the children’s nursing home was named 'Cootharinga'.

In 1991, the North Queensland Society for Crippled Children changed its name to Cootharinga Society of North Queensland, with the focus going from disability to ability and from institutionalised settings to community based environments.  Today it is known as Cootharinga North Queensland - Ability First!

While the original poliomyelitis epidemic has passed, unfortunately the need for Cootharinga and our valuable work has not. Today Cootharinga operates throughout North Queensland with an ongoing presence in Townsville, Cairns, Rockhampton, Mackay, Mount Isa, the Burdekin and regions in between.