News • 04 Sep 2019

The history of Open Minds and our connection to Wattle Day

There aren’t many Australian organisations that can claim 100 years of service to their community. Open Minds was founded back in 1912 as the Queensland Wattle Day League, from then until now, Open Minds has always been closely associated with the golden wattle.

The Wattle gained support as a National flower in Australia for a number of reasons: it was recognised as being present and prominent throughout Australia, the bark was important commercially at the time being used in tanning processes, and it’s flowering was seen as a sign of spring.  

The Wattle also represents resilience, being able to withstand bushfires and drought.

In 1912 the Wattle was added to the Australian Coat of Arms, and this is when the Queensland Wattle Day League was formed with the objective of celebrating Wattle Day nationally on the 1st September, and a way of fundraising to support  art scholarships.

It didn’t take long before the impact of World War One called for the League to broaden it’s scope to also fund artificial limbs for returned soldiers, in addition to still funding art scholarships.

How did the League branch into disability and mental health?

Although the League continued to award art scholarships, it wasn’t until 1952 when the League began to have an interest in helping people with disabilities.

In 1965 the League changed it’s name to the Queensland Wattle Day League for the Disabled, and the League began to provide sheltered workshops to enable people with disabilities to have access to a form of employment.

They also began offering an Activities Therapy Centre, focused on social, recreational and therapy programs.

In 1970 the League was successful in gaining government subsidies, meaning that funding was no longer reliant on donations.

Whilst the sheltered workshops closed in 1980, the Activities Therapy Centre continued and helped to shape the expertise and services that Open Minds offers today.

In 1990 the League changed names again to the Queensland Wattle League, and began focusing on supporting individuals to find accommodation, work, and independence.

In 2003, with a firm focus on mental health, the League changed its name to Open Minds, and we’ve been supporting the community ever since, whilst continuing to celebrate Wattle Day each year with a focus on the ever changing needs of the Queensland community and the commitment to resilience Open Minds displays, just like the Wattle.

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