Disability Online Facebook Page   Disability Online Twitter               


Home  What's On About Disabilities Services Disability Online News and Resources Jobs and Training  Aids and Equipment Carers Help 


 Rights and Acts Restrictive Information Behavioural Communication Disability Service Standards Diets and Recipes  


Helen Keller Visits Australia

(Rare1) Helen Keller & Anne Sullivan

1930 Newsreel Footage)

Helen Keller Speaks Out




(Article from the The Melbourne Age)


  • Institutions providing accommodation for people with intellectual and Psychiatric disabilities Institutions opened over Australia.
  • 1887 In Melbourne The Childrens Cottages at Kew first opened as the "idiot Ward" of Kew Asylum. The function of the institution was to provide accommodation and education for mentally retarded children although many of these children remained in this accommodation as adults.


  • 1913 -Victoria - From 1913 responsibility for special education was delegated to the Education Department which opened its first special school in Bell Street, Fitzroy. Better survival rates together with the introduction of intelligence testing saw increasing numbers being diagnosed as 'sub-normal'. Eugenic-based fears about the 'threat' posed by the 'feeble-minded' led to calls for complete segregation.  http://www.emelbourne.net.au/biogs/EM00759b.htm (Melbourne Library)
  • Alice Betteridge -First Deafblind child to be educated in Australia. In 1908 at age 7 Alice started at the Royal institute for Deaf and Blind Children as their first deafblind student. Alice's teacher Roberta Reid fingerspelt words into her hand until she made the connection between the words spelt and the objects she was touching. In 1920 when Alice graduated, she was dux of the school. Alice was a teacher at the school for 9 years and was well regarded for intelligence, good nature and independence.  Alice married and travelled.
  • 1941-1945- Action T4- Germany- The T4 Program was thought to be developed from the Nazi Partys policy of "racial Hygiene" This program ran officially form 1939 until 1941.  This program saw the killing of at least 200,000 people with a physical of mental handicap by medication, starvation or in the gas chambers.
  • 1948 Helen Keller toured Australia visiting the Sydney Industrial Blind Institution (Royal Blind Society) and the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind (now Vision Australia).  Helen died in 1968 at 88 years of age


  • During the 50's parents of people with disabilities began setting up Sheltered workshops around Australia
  • First Guide Dog Training centre was established in Perth


  • 1960 -First Paralympic Games were held in Rome
  • 1962-Special Olympics- started as a back yard camp in America.  Mrs Eunice Kennedy Shriver (sister of US president John F Kennedy)invited 75 children with an intellectual disability into her backyard for a sporting games.  Australia was to form the first Australian Special Olympics team in 1976
  • First Text Phones Invented
  • 1966- Alice Betteridge Died
  • 1967- Sheltered Employment allowance was introduced
  • 1968- First International Special Olympics Games were Held


  • 1972- Wolf Wolfensberger introduces The Principle of Normalization in Human Services. Normalization was a part of the deinstitutionalization movement of the 1970s.
  • Electric wheelchairs became available in Australia
  • 1974- The Handicapped Persons Assistance Act of 1974
  • 1975- United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons
  • Australia joins the special Olympics for the first time


  • 1981-International Year of the Disabled Persons
  • 1984- The Sex Discrimination Act Australia
  • 1984- Annie's Coming out- a 1984 Australian drama film. Based on the non-fiction book Annies Comming Out by disability activists Rosmary Crossley and Anne McDonald.  The book tells the story of Annie's life in a government institution for people with disabilities
  • 1986 -Disability Services Act 1986
  • 1986 -Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Act 1986


  • 1992-Disability Discrimination Act 1992
  • 1996- National Disability Advisory Council established
  • 1996 - 8th April - A fire occurred in Flat E, Unit 31 at Kew Residential Services in Melbourne.  Tragically , the fire took the lives of nine residents with intellectual disabilties
  • 1999- Carer Allowance Introduced


  • 2000- Paralymic Games were held in Sydney
  • 2004- Age Discrimination Act Australia
  • 2007 -Australian Disability Service Standards
  • 2008- Anne McDonald received the Personal Achievement Award in the Australian National Disability awards.  Born with severe athetoid cerebral palsy Rosemary Crossley was able toestablish communication through facilitated communication. Anne McDonald was the co-author (with Rosmary Crossley)of Annie's coming out -a book written about her life .  This book was made into a film and won several Australian Film Institute Awards.   Anne McDonald completed her humanities degree in 1993.  Anne died of a heart attack on 22 October 2010
  • 2009- Kurt Kearnley- Australian Athlete with a disability, crawled the Kokoda trail on his hands


  • 2012-Launch of Silent Tweets- a smartphone app designed as a free community broadcasting tool for people who are hearing impaired.  It allows users to share info or announcements that might otherwise be broadcast over loud speakers or radio.
  • Oscar Pistorius (South African) is the first double leg amputee to participate in both the Olympics and the Paralympics.  Oscar participated in the men's 4 x 400 meters relay team in the Olympics. He also took part in the 2012 Summer Paralympics and competed in the men's 100 meters, 200 meters and 400 meters races in the T44 classification, and in the T42-T46 4 x 100 meters relay.
  • Matthew Cowdrey- Australian swimmer is the most successfully Australian Paralympian. Matt has competed at the  2004 Paralympic Games, 2006 Commonwealth Games, 2008 Paralympic Games, 2010 Commonwealth Games and the 2012 Paralympic Games.  Matt has won 13 Paralympic gold medals and 23 Paralympic medals in total.

Faces of the Feebleminded

The history on disabilities...

Introduction to the Spastic Centre


Rome 1960 - 50th Anniversary

Papalympic Games

Witness, An Australian video

submittedfor our institutions:

Close them campaign

Special Olympics Founder

Eunice Kennedy Shriver

The International Year of

Disabled Persons (1981)

Highights - Sydney 2000

Paralympic Games

Museum of disAbility (America)

Disability Services in Australia - Part 1

Disability Services in Australia - Part 2

Disability Services in AUstralia - Part 3

A Place to Call Home -  June 2011

Shut In (HD) Campaign 2011

Disability Sport and Recreation

History so Far

Fearless Fearnley's

Kurt Fearnleys Kokoda Track crawl

Oscar Pistorius - Olympic Athlete

with no legs

Cowdrey ' Australia's

Greatest Paralympian