Where it all began…..

1981 was designated as the International Year of the Disabled Person, and it was considered an appropriate occasion in which to bring to a focus a situation of concern that existed on the Sunshine Coast. While over the years a number of facilities had been created to provide    services for children with mild disabilities, concern was being expressed for aging families who were coping with caring for adult or near-adult children with profound intellectual and physical disabilities who had no recourse to services or respite facilities for their children.  Outside of institutions, there was no one trained to assist these children in their daily lives, nor were there any programmes through which they could adequately access their general      community. 35 Sunshine Coast families were identified as requiring assistance in the on-going support of their adult children.

On 26 April 1981 a meeting was convened at the Nambour CWA Hall to discuss this situation and to seek some solutions. The meeting was attended by 50 people and it was resolved to establish a Committee whose primary task was identified as working for the establishment of hostel facilities for the severely intellectually disabled, primarily permanent residency, but also some accommodation for emergency respite needs or to give a break to families. Ms Diane Wallace, Senior Officer in Intellectual Handicapped Services (Dept. Of Health) also attended and she was instrumental in working with families and the committee fully supporting the needs within her Department. The Committee was named, the Sunshine Coast Committee for the Care of the Severely and Profoundly Handicapped. Principal Office Bearers for this first Committee were: Mrs Joyce Walden -Chairman, Mrs Olive Eastlake -Secretary, and Mrs Joan van der Vliet – Assistant Secretary. Of significance was the fact that Mrs Walden had not long before completed a term as President of the Sunshine Coast branch of the Endeavour Foundation and as such had a detailed knowledge of the facilities that existed on the Sunshine Coast for people with disabilities.

The Committee very quickly settled into its task and numerous letters were written to State and Commonwealth Government Departments and Local Authorities expressing concerns at the fact that relief support for families with severely disabled children was only available in Ipswich or Maryborough, and seeking support for the establishment of such a facility on the Sunshine Coast. As a result of replies received from the State Government a request was made to the Department of Health for a “needs” survey of the intellectually handicapped on the Sunshine Coast. A meeting was then held in October 1981, again in the Nambour CWA Hall attended by the Minister of Health at which a formal request was made for the establishment of a villa for the disabled on the Sunshine Coast. In the period leading up to the meeting the Committee had identified areas of vacant Crown land which could be utilised in the provision of such a facility.

Around this time discussions had also been held regarding the establishment of a day training or care centre, and a number of meetings were held with the Intellectual Handicapped Services Branch (I.H.S.) of the Ministry of Health. Mrs Joan van der Vliet was the lead Committee person involved in this process, and it culminated in a meeting being held in August1981,in the Nambour Baptist Church Hall with representatives from I.H.S. and the Baptist Church to discuss the establishment of a day programme. The Church advised that their Hall would be made available for such a programme, and I.H.S. confirmed that they would provide a programme plan and training for volunteer staff involved. I.H.S. sent staff from Brisbane namely Jean O’Leary, Maggie and Rex came weekly then after a few months fortnightly then monthly. They also continued their support and involvement for a long time when we were on our own, this was greatly valued. It was proposed that the programme start in February1982.A contract was drawn up by I.H.S. and training of volunteers began. Some of the earlier recipients of this service were; Lewis Brennan, Daphne Cooney, Yvonne van der Berg, Mark Pearson, Anne Hopkins, Steve Altendorff, Craig Wilson, Chris Teague, Jackie Shorter and Andrew Cunnington. Joan van der Vliet was appointed in charge of the Administration and Co­ordination of the group, and effectively became the first Co-ordinator of the day programme for severely disabled adults on the Sunshine Coast. Meetings were held on Friday mornings from 10am to 1pm.

History image 1At this time we received really good support from the community for volunteers e.g. Patsy Dale took on the responsibility for arranging the programme for the Activity Day. Many of the first volunteers went on to become long term workers, namely Jan Atkinson and Pam Trevor (being stand-outs ) went on to become long term workers.

As with all organisations funding became a very important component of the activities and funding applications were made to Government, Local Authorities, and Service Clubs throughout the Sunshine Coast, with varied degrees of success. A significant level of support was provided by the Sunshine Coast Branch of Zonta by way of financial contributions and the provision of equipment used in the weekly programme. Funding was also provided by the Department of Education and TAFE. The staff consisted of a Senior Officer, 2 Programme Officers, 1 Administration staff, 1 Community Liaison Officer and 1 Community Health Aide.

Joan van der Vliet was appointed as the Health Aide and this was the first time she was in a paid position. After 2 ½ years Joan left this position and continued the SPIRAL services as Co-ordinator  (and hands on) on a part time basis, in conjunction with the existing volunteers and I.H.S. staff.

During all of this time the Committee was actively involved in identifying land and buildings that could be used to provide the hostel accommodation that was the key objective of the initial establishment of the Committee. Letters continued to be written, and meetings held. In April 1983, a meeting was held, attended by the Director of I.H.S., a representative from Endeavour Foundation Head Office and 42 local people. At this meeting the Chairperson, Joyce Walden advised that some of the parents present had been working for a permanent residential facility for their dependents since 1961 and it was now time for I.H.S. and Endeavour to report on their progress and to advise what assistance was available. I.H.S. reported that from 219 survey forms sent out 70 replies had been received, and that their needs had been stated. Endeavour reported that they had 19 families looking for relief placement and 7 for permanent. The needs of these families and their dependents were discussed and the primary aims of the Committee were again stressed. In the process of the meeting, mention was made of property at Image Flat Road in Nambour belonging to the Department of Health that had become available and might be suitable for the needs defined by the Committee. It was agreed that negotiations would be established with the Department with a view to securing the property.

History image 2In February 1984 the Department advised that the Image Flat property was available to I.H.S. for their use but I.H.S. advised that they had no funding available to improve and renovate the property. Throughout 1984 lobbying continued and negotiations also continued with the Departments involved regarding the provision of funding for Image Flat Road. In April it was advised that funding was available to renovate the house to provide for office accommodation, day service facilities and the provision of residential accommodation. Work then commenced to turn the property at122 Image Flat Road into a facility that would meet the aims of the Committee and also provide a day service that had been so successfully created at the Baptist Church Hall. Funding continued to be a problem throughout this period as I.H.S. had received no funding to enable them to staff the property once renovations were completed. In March 1984 a Satellite office was established by I.H.S.at the Image Flat premises and this became the first office of the future DSQ on the Sunshine Coast.

Spiral becomes an Incorporated Society

History image 3Through 1985 changes were made to the Committee office bearers, and at a meeting in November 1985, the principal Office Bearers elected were: Joyce Walden -President, Pam Trevor -Vice-President, Olive Eastlake -Secretary. A decision was made to become an Incorporated Society and accounts were opened at the Westpac Bank and an Honorary Auditor was appointed. Incorporation was carried out in May 1986.A Constitution was written as required by the Incorporation process and this was adopted by the organisation in June 1986. At this time the purchase of a bus, fund raising on a wider scale and letters to Service Clubs were discussed. Official stationery was also approved to be ordered. At a meeting held on 25July 1986 it was confirmed that the name of the organisation would officially be changed to the Severely, Profoundly, Intellectually Retarded Adults League (SPIRAL). At this meeting Joan Walden advised that she was standing down as President having seen the organisation through from its Committee beginnings to this new incorporated not for profit professionally based community organisation, operating out of its own premises, providing day programmes for the more profoundly disabled adults within the community. In her final message to the meeting she urged the members present to continue their lobbying efforts until permanent residential care was available.

On 29 October 1986, Orchard House, located at 122 Image Flat Road, Nambour was officially opened by the State Government Minister of Health and Environment, the Honourable B D Austin. The building was owned under the auspices of Intellectual Handicapped Services, and was available for the operation of a day programme and also for overnight respite accommodation.

Another name change

History image 4History image 5From this point on Spiral flourished, taking on Government funding, hiring professional staff and establishing houses wherein adults with severe disabilities could live independently fulltime within the general community with skilled, rostered support. In 1987, Commonwealth funding through HACC was made available for the purchase of Spiral’s first bus, with the first car following in 1989. As the years passed SPIRAL acquired further specially fitted buses and a fleet of cars to enable it to provide day outings and transport to community activities for the scores of adults with severe disabilities scattered around the region. In 1993 Spiral again underwent a name change becoming the organisation Supporting People In Respite And lifestyles.


Grand Re-Opening of Spiral in 2010

History image 6Spiral re-opened their newly purpose built centre in Nambour on 7 January 2010 and although there have been adjustments over the years, this space has always been functional and encompassed the ideals Spiral has projected. This space has a commercial kitchen, Sensory Room, hub, veranda and small kitchen.


Spiral 25 and beyond

In May 2006 Spiral celebrated its 25th anniversary in the Hall where it first began, the Nambour Baptist Church Hall. As many members of the original Committee as could be located were present as were families of existing and past clients, and the clients now using the service. The SPIRAL journey was recounted together with pictorial remembrances of the more recent past.

Since 2006 Spiral has continued to develop its programme base focussing on Community access and the provision of meaningful activities for the clients. Funding was obtained through a grant from HACC which was to be used to improve the building, commensurate with the respite house at the rear of the property ceasing to operate and moving to a purpose built facility at Yandina. Architectural drawings were done and costings obtained for a complete makeover of the Spiral building. Over a period of 4 years, in-depth discussions were held with Government regarding the provision of new premises for Spiral. It was agreed that the building could continue to be used by Spiral and once this approval was obtained applications for funding were made. Fortunately, the large grant of funds made by HACC was able to be rolled over and as soon as financial approval was granted for the balance work was able to commence on the new Centre. This occurred in early 2009.

Alternative office premises were found in Maroochydore for the Spiral administrative staff, but the programme base was required to move and alternative venues were found to operate from. This meant that the Spiral programme became very community based operating out of 3 venues depending on where clients lived. For those in the north of the Coast the programme was centred around Noosa; for central clients Maroochydore was the base, and in the south, Caloundra became the temporary home. Adjustments were made to programmes and staff routines were significantly altered. But it was all worthwhile, when after the Christmas break 2009-2010, on 6 January 2010, the new Spiral building at Image Flat Road was officially opened by the Minister for Disability Services, Annastacia Palaszcuk. On the following Monday, staff and clients commenced the 2010 programme year in the new purpose -designed Centre, featuring a commercial kitchen with special access considerations, a dedicated arts and craft room, general purpose space for indoor activities, an edible garden, an expansive deck and office space so that all the functions of Spiral are closely interlocked and co-located allowing for an easy transition from the activity programme and the activities of administration.

The Spiral journey has involved a large number of people over the past 30 years. Volunteers at Committee level, volunteer support workers and trainers in the early days, staff in support worker roles, administrative staff, in-house residential support staff, training staff, community organisations, fund-raisers within the organisation and outside in various Service Clubs within the community, parents who provided transport for the clients in the early years, Government officials both at State and Federal level. No matter what role they have played in support of the organisation they have made a difference, and have brought Spiral to be the organisation it is now. The dreams of those dedicated people 30 years ago have been realised, and Spiral is now poised to continue to play its part into the future for those families who have adult children with disabilities living on the Sunshine Coast.

Special thanks must go to Joan van der Vliet , Pam Trevor and Paul Outtrim for their assistance in compiling the Spiral History up until this point.

Launch of Spiral’s Website and New logo in 2011

After a number of years with the same logo, Spiral was fortunate enough to secure some design students who were studying at University of the Sunshine Coast and they designed a new website for us as well as a new logo and corporate documents.  This is the logo that we have now and the transition from old to new is Spirals continuous improvement and adapting with the times.

 Spiral’s 30th Anniversary 17 December 2011

On the 17 December we had over a hundred people come and share in Spirals success of operation for 30 years.

NDIS rally on 30 April 2012 in Brisbane

History image 730 April saw 17 Spiral members rallying in support of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) co-ordinated by the Every Australian Counts campaign office.  It was a great turn out that received a lot of press coverage including a Spiral members radio interview and our pictures on their website.  Money and politics have also gotten a lot of airplay, especially for Queensland, but there is still a lot of optimism that the accelerated timeframe for launch sites will be achieved and the program continue to grow.  Now the chant is “Make it Work”. The Productivity Commission’s report suggests there are 800,000 people in Australia who could benefit from an NDIS, but only 100,000+ are registered on the Every Australian Counts website – so if you haven’t already joined the cause, please consider doing so and asking friends and families to join as well.

Spiral is a member of the National Disability Service (NDS) as the peak body for disability service providers across Australia.  NDS provide regular updates on issues impacting on the sector and the NDIS (the funding proposals) is certainly getting a lot of airspace.

Since 2012, a lot has happened in the NDIS space and 2019 is the year  the NDIS will roll out on the Sunshine Coast.

National Youth Disability Conference 24 – 25 September 2012 in Melbourne

History image 8In September 2012 Simon attended the National Youth Disability Conference in Melbourne which at the time was the only youth advocacy group in Australia and Simon attended a number of workshops and discussions on Wellbeing, employment, rights and advocacy for young adults with disabilities.

Loud and Clear established in 2015

Loud and Clear logoWhat a year it has been.

One year on and the members of the self advocacy team are growing in confidence and self belief in themselves.

They have been learning the skills to be effective communicators and self advocates.

Showing these new found skills is very exuberant at times, but this just makes people smile and want what the members have, a love of life.

They are up for any challenge and each step out of their comfort zones to try new experiences, sometimes with a hefty nudge from each other. They are fearless.

It has been a fun ride with many new opportunities along the way to attend advocacy conferences, events on the coast and conducting workshops that help others to be heard.

For me to see the team working together, discussing issues, laughing together, arguing at times, putting their points across and being so proud of Loud and Clear is what self advocacy is all about, what life is about.

They are truthful and real and all bring their own unique talents and strengths to their Loud and Clear.

They have shown people just who they are and what they want to achieve in their own lives and they will get stronger and become the people they strive to be in a very noisy, fun filled and unique way. The way it should be. Perfect.

by Kathy Walker

Old Ambulance Station

Old Ambulance Station logoIn January 2016, Spiral became the resident company in the Black Box Theatre for four days a week and this collaboration with the Old Ambulance Station is growing more and more as the year progresses. Spiral looks forward to the further collaborations and relationships that we have with the residents in the Old Ambulance Station.

Makeway Lab Collaboration in 2016

Makeway Lab logoThe Makeway Lab has been designed and developed on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Recently the Makeway Lab was awarded Queensland Government funding to develop an art and health program and trial and research the activities to gauge their benefit and opportunities for expansion.

In April 2016, the trial commenced with Spiral Nambour. Spiral’s programs aim to help people build capacity, link into their communities, access leisure and recreational interests, learning and vocational opportunities to become valued members of their communities.

The Makeway Lab Residency aimed to enhance Spiral’s programs and include both creative and design for health applications and culminated in a showcase exhibition as part of the Horizon Arts Festival including a sensory space featuring the participants work.

 Fundraising and Community Events 2016

This year Spiral has participated in a number of fundraising and community events such as two of Bunnings BBQ’s at the new Maroochydore location, Sunshine Coast Concert Band in Caloundra and our Dance in February at Nambour. Other Community events such as Nambour Together, Fair Day Out, Bunnings Planting Day and of course the month long exhibition and workshops at the Old Ambulance Station that contributed to The Horizon Festival and Disability Action Week were huge successes for us this year.

2017 and Beyond

Spiral has enjoyed the full year that has been 2016 and like everything else Spiral continues to grow and our workshops are evolving every year and getting better and better.

Spiral looks forward to all the years ahead and all the continuation of building relationships and collaborations within our Sunshine Coast community.

35th Anniversary Booklet

We would like to thank everyone who contributed to our history. Please download the 35th Anniversary History Booklet (PDF 1MB) if you would like a copy of our history.

Please contact Spiral if you are unable to download the History Booklet.