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, Mackay and regions in between.

 

Cootharinga Milestones

  • 1951
    • Formation of the North Queensland Society for Crippled Children (NQSCC).
  • 1956
    • Foundation stone laid for the Cootharinga Nursing Home.
  • 1957
    • Cootharinga Nursing Home Official Opening on 22 June.
  • 1961
    • Official Opening of Recreation Building, Matrons & Sisters Quarters, and Nursing & Staff Quarters.
  • 1968
    • Nursing Home extended.
  • 1973
    • Special Education & Training Centre opened. Building later housed Administration and the Library.
  • 1981
    • Students began taking up study at Mundingburra Special School.
  • 1984
    • De-institutionalisation Commenced. 
    • Building and opening of Casa Martinez, the Society’s first purpose built house in the community.
    • This was the start of our move to support people living with a disability to live in the general community with highly individualised and professional support services.
  • 1985
    • Closure of Special Education & Training Centre.
  • 1990/1992
    • Building and opening of a further three houses purpose built to accommodate people with disabilities in Townsville. As well as one in Cairns and one in Mackay.
    • Opening of Independent Living Training Centre (ILT), which has evolved into the Community Linking Service (CLS).
  • 1991
    • Change of Name to the “Cootharinga Society of North Queensland” (CSNQ), to better reflect the ages of the people the Society supported and the standards of the times.
  • 1992
    • Commenced Rehabilitation Technology Service (RTS)
  • 1993
    • Commenced Family Support Service
    • Building and opening of house purpose built to accommodate people with disabilities in Mount Isa.
  • 1994
    • Closure of the Cootharinga Nursing Home and the completion of the move from a “medical” model to a “community living” model.
    • Undertook major organisational restructuring. Introduction of clearer Systems, Policies & Procedures, and Operating Manuals.
    • Commenced the Individual Support Service (ISS)
    • Closure of Mount Isa house in July 1994.
  • 1995
    • Established CSNQ Enterprise Award
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander role commenced
  • 1996
    • Community Linking Service commenced.
  • 1998
    • Commenced Supported Accommodation Services at Black Street, Mackay.
    • RTS received first government funding, six years after commencing its operations (Cootharinga had spent over $1 million on this service before receiving any government funding).
    • Commenced Supported Accommodation Services at Napier Street, Mackay, bringing the total number of locations at which we provide 24-hour support to nine.
  • 2000
    • Commenced Supported Accommodation Services at Douglas Street, Townsville. New purpose built house for four young people moving from Warburton Street. Constructed and managed by Queensland Housing with construction costs funded by DSQ.
    • Closure of Warburton Street Supported Accommodation Services (part of old Nursing Home) and the people we support moved to Douglas Street.
  • 2001
    • Quality Assurance ISO 9001:2000 accreditation achieved.
  • 2002
    • People living with a disability receiving Supported Accommodation Services at Napier Street, Mackay moved to more appropriate housing at Field Street, Mackay.
    • Membership of Ability First Australia.
  • 2003
    • People living with a disability receiving supported accommodation services at Black Street, Mackay moved to more appropriate housing at Absy Court, Mackay.
    • Cootharinga property at Mangano Close, Cairns sold to Queensland Housing. Cootharinga continues to provide accommodation support services to residents.
    • Cootharinga Warburton Street site sold.
  • 2004
    • Cootharinga purchases property at Keane Street, Currajong for Head Office and RTS operations.
    • Cootharinga properties at Lanark Street, Dali Court, and Winifred Street sold to Queensland Housing. Cootharinga continues to provide accommodation support services to residents.
  • 2005
    • Official Opening of Keane Street buildings by Minister for Disability Services Warren Pitt.
    • Disability Sector Quality System accreditation achieved.
  • 2006
    • People living with a disability receiving supported accommodation services at Casa Martinez moved to more appropriate housing at Gardenia Avenue.
    • Child and Family Support Service – North Queensland launched. Subsequently relocated July 2007.
    • Ministers Award for Excellence in Workplace Development 2006 – Cootharinga won the Ministers Award for Excellence in Workforce Development in the category – Creating a Learning Culture and reached finalist status in the category – “Innovation in Workplace Development”
    • Affiliation with Easter Seals USA.
  • 2007
    • Late February Cootharinga launched Respite Service in Townsville and Mackay.
    • Ministers Awards for Excellence in Workplace Development 2007 – Cootharinga was the winner of the Award in two out of five categories – Sector Recognition and Effective Management by a Board of Directors.
  • 2008
    • 3 new Accommodation Services commenced in Townsville, supporting 13 new people we support; Established new branding, logo and new vision statement...."Building a better world with people of all abilities!"
  • 2009
    • Opening of the Cootharinga Activity and Respite Centre; The inaugoral year of the annual Walk With Me Fundraising Event; Secured funding for developments at Leila Avenue, Little Street (Cairns) and Meadow Street (Mackay);

    2010

    • Opening of Leila Avenue, Little street (Cairns) and Meadow Street (Mackay)

    2011

    • Our recently established Autism Service expnds to children with all types of disabilities

    2012

    • Purchase of land at North Shore for accommodation projects
    • Support for school leavers commences
    • Opened Kylie Close in Mareeba 
  • 2013
    • Commencement of Mobile Attendant Carer Service
    • Expansion of Older Carer Initiative into the Burdekin
    • Commencement of Post School Services
    • Commencement of Parent Connect Service in Rockhampton
    • Commencement of MyTime Playgroups in Townsville
    • New house opened in North Shore.  Designed by Ken Tippet Architect.  Built by Martin Locke Homes and awarded the first Platinum Rating in Australia under the new Livable Housing Standards - April 2013
    • New house opened North Shore.  Built by Ron Jones Homes – April 2013
    • New house opened in North Shore June 2013 – currently rented