Independence Australia was founded in 1957 by a group of paraplegic and quadriplegic patients in the spinal unit at Melbourne’s Austin Hospital. Together with carers, they shared a dream of living independently and formed an organisation that was the birth of Independence Australia in its original form, The Paraplegic Association of Victoria (ParaQuad Victoria).
This group of passionate volunteers fought to ensure that when people with a spinal cord injury were released from hospital, they would have the support services to return home and regain a level of independence. At the time, most people with acquired spinal cord injuries were forced to live in a variety of institutions and nursing homes and could only dream of returning to the family home, due to the lack of support services at the time.
The organisation began establishing services and rehabilitation programs to enable people who were paraplegics and quadriplegics to have the opportunity to return home and resume their lives in the community. Over the years, the organisation reviewed and expanded its services to include people with many other physical disabilities, not just spinal cord injury. Our consumers broadened to include varying disabilities and levels of ability including multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, acquired brain injury and stroke.
It also became obvious that our name had to change to better reflect this broader focus, and so in 2008, we became Independence Australia. Today our name and focus remain clear as we move into the future. We’re about supporting all people with physical needs and older people to achieve their best possible quality of life and their dreams of independence.
That same passion in 1957 remains behind our work as a social enterprise that provides choices for people living with a disability or other personal need, supporting them to regain and retain their independence. Several of our major programs receive limited or no government funding, so it is only from the generous support in the community for our fundraising and social enterprise businesses, which ensure these crucial services are delivered to those who need our support.