Harry Giese, Community leader

Carpentaria Disability Services

Harry's Place, a shared community space 

This offers a range of community, allied health training and direct care services, including therapy services for children, adolescents and adults; supported independent living; short-term accommodation/respite; and a pathways program. It is 'named in recognition of Harry Giese, Director of Welfare in the Northern Territory Administration (1954-70) and the first President of the then-Spastics Association, which was established in 1973. He was integral to the continued development and growth of the Association.'

The current tenants of Harry's Place reflect work across the community. They include Carers NT, Darwin Children's Clinic, Deaf Serrvices and the Deaf Society, Aim Big Employment and Sacred Business Services, as well as Carpentaria itself.  

See further history of Carpentaria Disability Services below. Click on each heading:

Concern and care: the growth of the Association

We depend on you

Congratulations to Carpentaria Community Services on reaching its 20th serving year

'We will continue as a specialist provider of disability services in the Darwin and Palmerston area focusing on the 5 core activities identified in our Corporate Plan:

  1. Client and Family Support 
  2. Early Intervention Services
  3. Respite 
  4. Accommodation
  5. Lifestyle Options (through our Community Access Program and "The Club" at the Harry Giese Building).

Over the next three years we will be implementing our new Corporate Plan of which our Marketing Plan is a key element.
In recent years our client base has expanded rapidly. We now have over 230 registered clients and a growing queue of new clients waiting for service.
A growing number of our existing clients are also seeking additional service...'

Carpentaria Community Services, News & Views, September-October 1996
See further information about their pioneering work centred on the  Harry Giese Centre  

Concern and care: the growth of the Association

‘…in March 1973, following a public meeting of parents of cerebral palsied children and concerned citizens of Darwin…a Northern Territory Spastics Association was formed. The Association was then incorporated. Membership of the Australian Cerebral Palsy Association (ACPA) was sought and application made in March 1974 to the Government for the lease of a suitable area of land on which to commence the building of a spastics centre to serve the needs of cerebral palsied and other handicapped children and their families in Darwin as well as the outlying areas.

After some years of negotiation during which appropriate amendments were made to the constitution of the APCA, full membership of that body and recognition as the Seventh Division of the Miss Australia Quest was granted in late 1978. Meantime, negotiations continued with the Commonwealth Government on the nature and range of facilities and services to be provided under their subsidy conditions. By late 1976 plans and estimates for Stage 1 of the Centre had been completed. The Commonwealth Government in December 1976 finally approved a subsidy of $400,000 to be made Available in the 78-79 financial year for the project. The Association had by this time raised some $180,000 through the Miss NT Quest and by other means.

Because of the urgency of the need for services for cerebral palsied and other handicapped children, especially at the early intervention period, the Association decided in May 1977 to seek bridging finance from the ANZ Bank, one of the national sponsors, to enable a start to be made on the project before June 1978. In July 1977, the Association contracted for the erection of Stage 1. Work commenced on the project in September 1977 and was completed in mid-March 1978 in time for an early start of the program in that year.

At the beginning of 1979, fifteen children, who had grown to twenty-four by April, were involved in the early intervention program. The staff has increased such that throughout 1980 the Centre has been staffed at a level and range of professional competence which for the first time enables the Association to deliver comprehensive services.

During a brief visit to Darwin in August 1979, Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle, in discussions with the members of the Management Committee, approved "in principle" assistance under provisions of the International Year of the Child for funding Stage 2 developments of the Centre as part of the total strategy. It was found that the total cost would still involve expenditure of $30,000 by the Association.

Work commenced on the erection of the two cottages in early February 1980 and was completed in December of that year. The Adventure Playground is expected to be completed in March 1981.

The Association has come a long way in the services it has provided since its inception in March 1973; it still has much to do if it is to keep pace with growing community needs. Already plans are being considered for a hydrotherapy and recreational unit which will complete the Stage II developments and will meet the needs of school age children and older persons. In this unit whole families will find opportunities to join together in recreational activities.

With the grant of self-government and moves towards full statehood, it is important that an on-going working partnership be developed between the Government and voluntary agencies, each with its defined roles and responsibilities. It is only in this way that the Association can provide the range and quality of services for handicapped people required in our rapidly growing centres. In so doing, we add support to the proposition that the Northern Territory can come of age politically and, through the work and development of voluntary organisations such as the Northern Territory Spastics Association, can demonstrate our ability to grow towards maturity as a concerned and caring community.’

Harry Giese, President, Concern and care—the Spastics Centre, in The Top End, Northern Territory, Australian Regional Information Series 13, vol. 4, no. 1, July 1981

We depend on you

‘…When in 1973 the Association was formed, few of those people would have believed that in the short years since we would have had the facilities now available and the staff to provide the services.

A natural question you might ask is “How have we been able to build the building and employ the staff? From where does the money come?" The answer is simple: from you, the people. You support the work of the Association in two ways: through taxes distributed by way of Government subsidy and by a generous response to our direct appeals to you. Both the Territory and Commonwealth Governments provide subsidies of different types... 

There is of course a limit to the amount of money that Governments can provide to organisations such as ours, and that is where you come in. Money donated by you over the years has paid for the shortfall in building costs, the shortfall in salaries, equipment and other running costs. We are very grateful for your support.

We don't want to stand still. We want to continue improving and developing the program of service to disabled children.

Remember this: most of the disabilities suffered by children attending our Centre have been caused by accidents before, during or after birth. It could just as easily be your child depending on the generosity of the people of the Territory to help take his rightful place in the community.’

Kim Francis, Executive Director, Forget-Me-Not, vol. 1, no. 1, 1981       See the Centre on 28 February 1980 at

Congratulations to Carpentaria Community Services on reaching its 20th serving year

‘…The NT Spastic Association Inc., established in 1973 from the former Darwin and Districts Spastics Paralysis Association, was formed to foster "public interest in and to provide facilities and services for the discovery, treatment, care, education, vocational training, employment, recreation and advancement of spastic and other handicapped persons and generally to promote their interests and welfare".

…Although Cyclone Tracy, which devastated Darwin in December 1974 caused temporary setback to the development of the Association’s plans, negotiations were continued with the Commonwealth Government on the nature and range of facilities and services to be provided…

...Work was completed in mid-March 1978 in time for an early start of the program in that year. The Department of Social Security provided $30,000 for salaries assisting in the employment of one full and one part-time Physiotherapist, a part-time Speech Therapist and Psychologist, a Teaching Aide and House Parents, with the Education Department supplying on secondment an experienced Teacher. The salary subsidy also assisted in the payment of a Director, Typist/Receptionist and a Bus Driver…at the beginning of 1979 the staff had increased to include full-time Speech and Occupational Therapists, a Paediatric Nurse and a part-time Nurse supervising the transport of the children...

Since its inception, the Assocation had been fortunate in having the advice and support of Dr Alan Walker, Senior Specialist Paediatrician of the Casuarina Hospital, as its Honorary Medical Consultant. Towards the end of 1980 sessional medical oversight of the program by Dr Sue Sayers as part-time Medical Director was provided with her husband Dr Steven Baddeley, Orthopaedic Specialist at Casuarina Hospital, as Honorary Orthopaedic Consultant...The NT Health Department supplied funds for the employment of para-medical staff and the NT Education Department has seconded a second teacher for part-time oversight and direction of the education program.

…The Adventure Playground, on which work commenced in November 1980, was completed in March 1981. The Cottages were quickly occupied for the purposes for which they were built: the accommodation of families with handicapped children from outlying communities who are required to come to Darwin for assessment and outpatient care…

In November 1983 the Spastics Centre in Henbury Avenue was officially renamed the Harry Giese Centre by the Minister for Youth, Sport, Recreation and Health, Mr Nick Dondas. Services offered by the Centre are ever-increasing and annual operational costs now amount to nearly $500,000, for which Government subsidies account for less than $200,000…

During the 1982-83 financial year the NT Spastics Association processed more than 500 assessments of children referred by the Departments of Health and Education. More than 6000 attendances were recorded in the pre-school and specialist therapeutic programs, and over 2000 had been housed that year in the respite care unit. The Association’s bus service carried more than 10,000 passengers during the year and travelled more than 36,000 kilometres in and around the Darwin region…’ 

Carpentaria News, June 1993, pages 1,5,6

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