Our History

The Deafblind Association was formed in 1967 by a passionate and determined group of parents who believed in the potential of their children with deafblindness. Challenging the lack of support and understanding available, the Victorian Deaf Blind and Rubella Children’s Association, as it was then known, sought to help all children with deafblindness and their parents, in part by securing suitable education and welfare facilities.

photo of a little boy with hula hoopInitially, the Association focused on creating resources for parents and friends of people with deafblindness, generating publicity and establishing the ‘Our Story Home Care Program’ in conjunction with the Royal Institute for the Blind.

The 70s
In a major coup for the Association, a residential facility and Special Education Centre opened at Mornington in Kew, providing training for people with deafblindness and multiple disabilities. Continuing to prosper through the 1970s, the Association appointed its first professional staff member and directed its efforts towards providing group homes for long-term residential care. During this time, the Association commenced fundraising, which to this day injects vital funds into its services and programs.

The 80s
During the 80’s, group homes were opened in Glen Waverley, Moorabbin and Croydon to offer people with deafblindness greater independence in a safe and nurturing environment. In 1984, the Association changed its name to The Deafblind Association, to reflect the support it was now offering to all people with deafblindness, not just those affected by rubella.
photo of a little girl receiving deafblind training
The 90s
Thanks to the hard work and determination of members, donors and people with deafblindness themselves, The Deafblind Association propelled forward during the 1990s, securing greater governmental funding. The Association was then able to launch the Recreation and Community Support programs and opened group homes in Mitcham, Heidelberg and Bonbeach.
2000 and beyond
Approaching its 40th anniversary, The Deafblind Association became Able Australia in 2006 to better reflect the organisation’s work in supporting people with deafblindness and multiple disabilities. 
Since then, the organisation has grown rapidly, branching out into Tasmania in 2006 and the Australian Capital Territory in 2011. In 2012, Able Australia established offices in Queensland to provide a diverse range of community services to assist some of the state’s most disadvantaged people to remain socially connected to their community.
Today, our comprehensive service and support networks reach more than 4000 Australians. We employ more than 500 people and 250 volunteers who are passionate about ensuring every person we support is seen, heard, respected, valued and connected.