The Spastic Centre was a non-government organisation that supported children and adults with cerebral palsy, which was once known as 'spastic paralysis'. It ran the New South Wales Hostel for Country Children at Allambie Heights from 1953. It was established in 1945 by a group of parents led by Neil and Audrie McLeod, whose daughter Jennifer had cerebral palsy. They started a treatment centre in Mosman before moving to purpose-built premises at Allambie Heights. In 2011, according to the ABC, this organisation decided the word 'spastic' had too many negative connotations and changed its name to Cerebral Palsy Alliance.
The Spastic Centre was the first organisation of its type in the world. The McLeods assembled a group of parents to set up their first centre, at 6 Queen Street, Mosman, a house borrowed from Arthur Sullivan. The parents believed their children needed specialist support and treatment to achieve normal lives. They felt their children should not be housed in traditional disability institutions. Working with trained staff, they merged medical treatment and therapy with education.
The demand for the Centre was so great that it quickly became obvious that the Queen Street would not be large enough. In 1946, the parents started work on a medical centre on land they had bought at Allambie Heights. A pilot hostel was started in Mosman in 1948, with 12 country children. The schoolroom was added to the Allambie buildings and officially opened in 1954. The Country Children's Hostel, McLeod House, was built by voluntary labour over three years and opened in 1957. A Centre Industries factory was added in 1961.
Through extremely clever fundraising, such as a relationship with the Miss Australia Quest/Awards that lasted from 1945 until 2001, and government support, The Spastic Centre has become a substantial organisation. It is a leader in Australian services for cerebral palsy. It has conducted a wide range of research into therapies, early intervention treatments, equipment and causes of cerebral palsy, as well as supporting children and adults.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Fire guts Spastic Centre', abc.net.au, ABC News, 16 December 2007, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2007-12-16/fire-guts-spastic-centre-office-in-sydney/989798; Raising the Roof: A new building at Allambie Heights, a new vision for our future, please help us rebuild, The Spastic Centre, 2007, http://socialventureconsultants.com/svc-site//wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Raising-the-Roof-Case-for-Support.pdf; 'A media release from the Premier - NSW Government announces $200,000 for Cerebral Palsy Alliance', in Media Releases, Families and Community Services: Ageing, Disability and Home Care, 20 May 2011, http://www.adhc.nsw.gov.au/about_us/media_releases/2011mr/a_media_release_from_the_premier_-_nsw_government_announces_$200,000_for_cerebral_palsy_alliance; McLeod, Neil, Nothing Is Impossible: Adventures in cerebral palsy, The Spastic Centre, 1986, https://www.cerebralpalsy.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Nothing-is-impossible.pdf.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 5 May 2014, Last modified: 18 May 2014