Person in a wheelchair backstage at a performance

More About ARC

Supporting People Living with a Disability for More Than 45 Years in Cairns

ARC Disability Services Inc. is a community-based organisation with a long history in Cairns and the Far North of Queensland. We support both children and adults who have a disability to reach their individual goals with support from their families and support networks. We believe when participants at ARC receive the appropriate help and support they can develop the skills necessary to lead an Independent and fulfilling life. We aim to support all of our participants in how to leverage their strengths in areas they want to gain more Independance, and how to advocate for the tools that they need in order to succeed.

Our Mission and our Vison

Our vision is that people who have a disability are empowered to reach their full potential, dreams and aspirations, enabling them to enjoy a fulfilling life of their choosing as valued members of the community. As a lead service provider, our mission is to influence change. We work collaboratively with our service users, their support networks and the community to facilitate a range of options and opportunities which promote active participation for all.

Mixed Race Down Syndrome Class

Our History

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.