Novita Children’s Services has been one of the largest providers of quality services to children living with disability and special needs, and their families, for 75 years.

Read on for a detailed history of our organisation.

1939 - 1969

Estcourt House - photo1939 The Crippled Children’s Association of South Australia (CCA) was incorporated, and was initially supported by the South Australian Government with a grant of £2,000 per annum. Somerton Home was established for children with poliomyelitis, more commonly known as polio.

1946 A school for children with cerebral palsy was established at the Adelaide Children’s Hospital, along with a cerebral palsy clinic under the auspices of CCA.

1951 Somerton Home began to provide services to children with disabilities other than polio, for example, neuromuscular diseases.

1952 Ashford House was purchased with State Government assistance and used as a school and therapy centre for children with cerebral palsy.

1957 The introduction of the Salk vaccine saw the end of the polio epidemic in South Australia.

1970 – 1989

Construction of Regency Park Centre - photo1970 A special committee was formed to look at the future of the organisation and, in particular, to search for new and larger premises.

1971 Building of the Regency Park Centre for Young Disabled commenced.

1976 Children were transferred from Somerton Home and Ashford House School to the organisation’s premises at Regency Park. Regency Park Rehabilitation Engineering was established.

1988 A number of residential options were developed for children, including the use of foster families and community homes.

1989 CCA celebrated its Golden Jubilee Year. At that time, the Association employed 329 staff, providing services to 196 day students and 516 children attending outpatient-style clinics as well as supporting 118 families in their homes, 158 clients in employment and training programs, and 24 people in independent living arrangements.

1990 - 1997

1992 The residential facility at Regency Park Centre was closed, with all children supported at home.

1993 A regional structure for children’s therapy services was developed. Services were exchanged with the Spastic Centre of South Australia, resulting in CCA providing therapy for all children with physical disabilities in South Australia.

1995 The CCA Options Coordination service commenced, providing support services – including respite care and home help – to CCA clients and their families.

1997 CCA entered into partnership with the Women’s and Children’s Hospital for the provision of medical paediatric rehabilitation services.

1998 - 2004

Completed Regency Park Centre - photo2001 CCA implemented a new Executive structure and Strategic Planning framework, paving the way for continued success in the future.

2002 Demand for CCA’s services continued to grow. As an advocate for more than 1000 clients and their families, CCA increasingly found itself working with Government to raise awareness of the needs of children and young people living with disabilities. The redevelopment of Regency Park Centre commenced.

2003 CCA  worked in partnership with the South Australian Department of Human Services to re-auspice its Adult Therapy Service (Communication and Therapy Services) to the Independent Living Centre.
2004 Members of CCA voted overwhelmingly to change the Association’s name to Novita Children’s Services, reflecting a more contemporary view of disability. The redevelopment of the Regency Park Centre was completed.

2005 - 2006

Novita expanded its services through the Australian Government-funded Inclusion Support Program, which will help up to 400 children with disabilities, indigenous children and children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to access services like child care, out of school hours care and vacation care.

Novita embarked on the Programs Project, an initiative to review and restructure services to ensure the organisation provides the best possible support to children and families living with disabilities.

2007 and beyond

Novita's Board of Directors endorsed the 'Life Needs Model' to guide the organisation's future work. This model is considered the world's best practice in supporting children with disabilities, emphasising age-appropriate services, support across key 'transition' stages in a child's life and increased focus on the needs of children, families and the wider community.

From January 2008, Novita's Therapy Services and Family Support teams combined to form the single Client Services Division. This significant change meant Novita families would now deal with just one team to access all the services and support they need.

In March 2009, Novita reached the milestone of 70 years of caring for children with physical disabilities. Celebrations for the organisation’s 70th anniversary continued throughout the year, including a reception with the Governor of South Australia, His Excellency Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce, at Government House, and a Sapphires and Stars gala dinner at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

Having operated as an incorporated association for 70 years, Novita achieved company limited by guarantee status, effective 1 November 2009. The transition enabled Novita to access more diverse funding sources, and opportunities for commercial development of its traditional services, whilst retaining its charitable status as a not-for-profit organisation.

On 1 July 2013, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, initially known as DisabilityCare Australia, launched in South Australia. As an established provider of services for children with developmental needs and disability, Novita began to deliver services to clients aged 0-5 years under this landmark scheme, with its full rollout to take place over the next few years.


Acquired brain injury

Injury to the brain that occurs after birth, often as a result of medical events, such as cancer or trauma resulting from injuries, such as in a vehicle accident.

Cerebral palsy

A general term for a group of disabling conditions caused by damage to the brain in early life during the period of brain development. The brain damage affects muscle control, which in turn affects posture and movement, causing problems such as weakness, spasticity or difficulties with balance and coordination.


The area of specialization in the study and management of children’s general health and conditions.

Physical disability

A restriction or lack of ability that limits the person’s physical functioning.

Poliomyelitis (Polio)

A condition involving inflammation of the grey matter in the spinal cord, resulting in muscles becoming paralised.


The means of helping a person regain lost or not-yet-acheived abilities.

Respite services

Services that provide a ‘break’ or a rest for someone caring for another.

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