History

Milestones in the HPA Journey

All journeys, regardless of their direction, destination or magnitude,
start with the smallest of ‘first steps’.

Such is the Helping People Achieve (HPA) pathway, which started with the vision, passion and impactful determination of the late Peggy and Harold Garner.

Helping People Achieve (HPA) has provided supported employment and accommodation to Territorians with disabilities since 1963.

The aim of HPA’s employment service is to benefit the community through the creation and development of employment opportunities for people with disabilities and to facilitate supported accommodation. But where did this impactful journey start and who were the people behind this visionary concept?

Driven by the care and need of a son with a disability the Garners founded the current services commenced in 1963 as the Mentally Handicapped Persons’ Association and immediately opened a school for “retarded children”.

In 1965, the school was taken over by the Education Department and the Association undertook to build a pre-school, hostel, sheltered workshop and training centre. The Association also underwent a name change to the Slow Learners Association.

It is important to reflect that the development of more appropriate and respectful terminology around disability is a measure of our society’s success in breaking down stigma. At times, it is a little confronting to review historical terms that were used.

Such is the Helping People Achieve (HPA) pathway, which started with the vision, passion and impactful determination of the late Peggy and Harold Garner.

Helping People Achieve (HPA) has provided supported employment and accommodation to Territorians with disabilities since 1963.

The aim of HPA’s employment service is to benefit the community through the creation and development of employment opportunities for people with disabilities and to facilitate supported accommodation. But where did this impactful journey start and who were the people behind this visionary concept?

Driven by the care and need of a son with a disability the Garners founded the current services commenced in 1963 as the Mentally Handicapped Persons’ Association and immediately opened a school for “retarded children”.

In 1965, the school was taken over by the Education Department and the Association undertook to build a pre-school, hostel, sheltered workshop and training centre. The Association also underwent a name change to the Slow Learners Association.

It is important to reflect that the development of more appropriate and respectful terminology around disability is a measure of our society’s success in breaking down stigma. At times, it is a little confronting to review historical terms that were used.

Our History


Slow Learners Association's preschool and hostel opened. Sheltered employment and training commenced in an Adult Education Centre classroom.

1967 – 1968


Slow Learners Association’s new workshop was completed.

1971

The Association's pre-school and hostel closed in 1973 and 1974 respectively.

1973 -1974


It was decided to change the name of the Association to Handicapped Persons’ Association of the Northern Territory (Inc)

1974

Cyclone Tracy completely destroyed the workshop.

Christmas 1974

A new building was funded 4:1 by the Commonwealth Department of Social Security and was named Kokoda Industries in recognition of a generous grant by the people of Papua New Guinea.

1978

The Association opened its first “group home” which accommodated up to 7 people.

1985

The Association purchased two small businesses, Ice Maidens and Supertube Outdoor Furniture.

1987

To comply with Government policy to separate accommodation and employment, Darwin Accommodation Services was established.

1991

Calico Connection was created to manufacture mining sample bags. This was the ‘seed’ for today’s Ausdesigns.

1991

The new name of HPA Incorporated, in line with “non-labelling” trends, came.

1992

With support from the Northern Territory Department of Housing, a small block of units was purchased to enable Darwin Accommodation Services.

1999


Ausdesigns opened in June by the Hon. Jane Aagaard, Minister for Northern Territory Department of Health &community services. Also in this year, the official opening of Darwin Accommodation Services. The complex was named “Garner Court” in honour of our Founding President, Harold Garner and his wife, Peg Garner

2002


HPA Disability Services, changes its name to become ‘Helping People Achieve’.

2014

HPA ‘Helping People Achieve’ makes history at the Telstra Business Awards with becoming the first ever charity organisation in Australia to be named Telstra Business of the Year. HPA claimed the inaugural Charity Award and also 2016 NT Telstra Business of the Year.

2016

HPA receives significant funding through NT Government grants, ‘Community Benefit Fund’ and ‘Immediate Work’, for the upgrade of HPA offices, Ausdesigns amenities, Kokoda Industries workshop and development of a Community Hub.

2017

HPA prepares for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) rollout and the exciting opportunities it brings…

2018

The Covid-19 pandemic has tested the agility of our network, the resilience of our business model and our ability to respond to unforeseen challenges while maintaining a clear focus on our key priorities – keeping our employees safe, serving our customers and creating return value for the company.

Consumer demands with the role out of the NDIS continues to create both uncertainty and real opportunity for HPA. The NDIS transition has gained significant momentum over the past year. We have continued to invest significant time and resources in supporting our customers to successfully transition into the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDS )

2020