New beginnings as we bid farewell to Woodville

On Tuesday 21 August 2018, scosa hosted a function to officially farewell our Woodville site as we have recently moved to our new central office at Eastwood. We were privileged to be joined by His Excellency, the Honourable Hieu Van Le, Governor of South Australia along with many other dignitaries and special guests.

Dorothy Belperio, scosa CEO commented, “Over the years our Woodville site acted as a service and therapy centre, special school campus, and in more recent times, as our central office. The Woodville Centre was established through the foresight and efforts of many strong willed and fiercely determined men and women, many of whom had children with complex and sometimes multiple disabilities.

Over the years Woodville was the home of some of the most pivotal moments in the history of disability services in South Australia.”

A major milestone in the early years of scosa’s Woodville home was the opening of the Mortlock Wing on 16 September 1955 by the then Minister of Health, Sir Lyell McEwin, which was reported in The Advertiser as follows,

“At each end of the wing are large day rooms, 26 feet by 18 feet, which contain the children’s play equipment. Big windows help to make the rooms cheerful and sunny places. The new wing has an up to date dental clinic, as well as a sick bay for disabled children who contract common childhood ailments such as measles and mumps. The home at present treats 24 children daily, with six in residence.”

In 1956, with demand for services continuing to grow and stretching the capacity of staff to the limits, a position of Medical Director was created and Dr Mervyn Thomas was appointed to the role. Dr Thomas immediately set about bringing a sense of authority and direction to the Woodville Centre.

By the latter part of the 1950s the Woodville Centre provided an expanding range of services incorporating the innovative practices at the time of physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy, and having a dedicated splint-making expert on site.

It was also during the 1950s that the Miss Australia Quest was founded to support people living with disability across Australia and with a particular focus on cerebral palsy. The Quest would become hugely successful as both a major social event and as a generator of funds to support the services provided at Woodville for ensuing decades.

By the mid 1970s around 200 children were accessing various services at the Woodville Centre, including schooling. As noted by the long serving School Principal, David Lomman, there was finally a recognition by a growing segment of the South Australian community of the need to consider what the future should look like for people living with disability.

With the spread of suburbia from the late 1980s and into the new millennium, scosa’s service model started to change to become more decentralised, enabling services to be accessed across Adelaide closer to home environments. This led to the eventual scaling back of Woodville to become a purely administrative centre.

Today scosa provides a diverse range of services to 400 South Australians living with disability from operational Hubs located across Adelaide and in the regional centres of Willaston, Clare and Port Pirie.

We look back on Woodville with great fondness and pride as the home of some of the most pivotal moments in the history of disability services in South Australia, while also looking forward to our continued role as a leading service provider in the future.