The organisation was founded in 1963 by the late Harold Garner.
The first step was to open a school for children with an intellectual disability. In 1965 the school was taken over by the Education Department and the Association then undertook to build a pre-school, hostel, a supported employment workshop and training centre.
Activities continued with the pre-school opening in 1967, closely followed by the hostel in 1968. Supported employment and training commenced in an Adult Education Centre classroom in 1968 and a new workshop was completed in 1971. The pre-school and hostel closed in 1973 and 1974 respectively.
At the Annual General Meeting in 1974 our name was changed to the Handicapped Persons’ Association of the Northern Territory, to better reflect the desire to help all people with disabilities and not just those with a mental illness.
In the same year Cyclone Tracy hit and the workshop along with most of Darwin, was completely destroyed. A replacement building was completed in 1978. This was funded 4:1 by the Commonwealth Department of Social Security and named Kokoda Industries in recognition of a generous grant by the people of Papua New Guinea.
In 1985 the Association opened its first “group home” which paved the way for Darwin Accommodation Services which was established in 1991 and today houses over 40 people.
In 1987 the Association purchased two small businesses, Ice Maidens and Supertube Outdoor Furniture, to expand the range of supported employment opportunities. Supertube Outdoor Furniture continued its operation for 20 years before an economic downturn forced its closure in June 2007.
Another business, Calico Connection, an industrial sewing factory was established in 1991 to manufacture mining sample bags. This business grew to become ausdesigns™,which designs a unique range of practical and decorative products featuring stunning indigenous art and exclusive aboriginal designs.
In June 1999 we received a generous grant of $345,000 from the Northern Territory Department of Housing to purchase a small block of units which enabled Darwin Accommodation Services to provide much needed accommodation for people with disabilities.
2002 saw the official opening of the first purpose built cluster housing development for people with disabilities in the Northern Territory. This was made possible through a generous grant of $1.2M from the Northern Territory Government. Managed by Darwin Accommodation Services.
The complex was named “Garner Court” in honour of our Founding President, Harold Garner and his wife, Peg, who still supports our Association today. Harold passed away on 7 November 2001 and we are proud to continue his inspired vision to support Territorians with disabilities.
Today we are known as HPA Disability Services and have continued to grow and improve our services. We welcome your support to assist people with disabilities to achieve their full potential.