Our History

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When did Orana begin?

Orana was formed in 1950 by a small group of progressive and visionary parents who were seeking educational and training opportunities for their children with intellectual disabilities who previously had been denied access to such opportunities.

Before 1950 the only specialised service for people with intellectual disabilities in SA was Minda Incorporated, which had been established in 1898 to provide accommodation and care for children.

There were no educational, training or vocational services for children and young people with more severe levels of intellectual disabilities, and as a consequence the children were kept at home in the care of their parents.

However, as a result of a public meeting held in Adelaide on August 10, 1950 and attended by more than 80 parents, the Mentally Retarded Children’s Society, now Orana, was formed.

The primary concern of that first meeting had been the total lack of educational services for children with intellectual disabilities, but after extensive campaigning and political lobbying by the newly formed Mentally Retarded Children’s Society, the first educational and training service was established in South Australia.

Known as the Kent Town Occupation Centre, the service was opened in 1953 to provide special tuition and training for children whose level of intellectual disability was below that required for entry into the then Education Department’s opportunity classes. Although the Centre was run by the Education Department, its establishment was the Society’s first major achievement and was a great encouragement to members of the inaugural Management Committee. The ages of the children ranged from an entry age of 6 to a leaving age of 16.