ARC Disability Services Inc. started originally as the Noah’s Ark Toy Library; it was established in 1976 by a group of parents who recognised the need for educational toys for children who have disabilities. At that time integration was not the norm, and therefore children with particular needs did not generally have access to a large range of toys and equipment, specialised or not, through playgroups or kindies etc. The toy library services were established and managed by the committee.

In 1986 there was a public meeting attended by parents of children and young adults who have disabilities. The need for Residential Respite was identified at that time, and Noah’s Ark agreed to sponsor funds gained through the then Department of Human Services (Federal Funding). The service was set up and initially operated from rented accommodation in town and in Brinsmead. The committee of Cairns Noah’s Ark Inc. applied for funding to build a purpose built house and successfully gained these funds in 1989. The house opened in its current location in 1990.

In 1991/2 the CSTDA (Commonwealth State & Territory Disability Agreement) was made between human and family services. Our funding has since then been provided by the Department of Family Services, now known as Department of Communities – Disability Services.

Since the original Service was established, we have attracted funding for a number of other short and long-term projects. The biggest impact has been the funding of the Flexible Respite Service. This started in 1991 with funding from both the State and Federal Departments, and has steadily grown from supporting less than ten families to 277 families on a regular basis.

At the AGM of Cairns Noah’s Ark Inc. in September 1998, the new name of ARC Disability Services was decided upon, to mark the change in direction which the organisation has taken over the years. It was felt that Cairns Noah’s Ark as a name identified more the involvement with Toy Library Services rather than reflecting the broader outlook of the organisation at that time.

Today, ARC Disability Services Inc. operates:

  • The ARC Resource Centre (incorporating the Toy Library)
  • The ARC Respite House
  • The ARC Flexible Respite Service
  • The ARC Learning and Lifeskills Program
  • The ARC Emergency Response Service
  • The ARC Family Support Program
  • The ARC Older Parent Carer Project
  • The ARC Seating Clinic
  • The ARC Holiday Program
  • The ARC Lifestyle Support Service (incorporating Accommodation Support)

ARC Disability Services Inc. has certainly broadened the scope of its service provision since its inception, and through the continued efforts of a dedicated committee, maintains a profile in the community and a reputation for quality service provision.