News • 27 Jun 2022

Open Minds: 110 years in the making

Open Minds: 110 years in the making

What does Australia’s vivid national flower, the Golden Wattle, have to do with Open Minds? The two have a strong and longstanding affinity that you may not be aware of, with Open Minds beginning as the Queensland Wattle Day League in Brisbane in 1912.

Wattle Day Leagues were already present in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia by the time wattle was added to the Australian Coat of Arms in 1912, which is when the Queensland Wattle Day League (the League) was formed.

Found throughout Australia, Wattle is highly regarded for its beauty and the way its flowering signals spring. At the time the League was formed, it also held commercial significance as its bark was used in tanning processes.

Wattle also represents resilience for its ability to withstand bushfires and drought.

The objectives of the League were to:

  • establish official recognition of the Golden Wattle as the floral emblem of Australia
  • cultivate a love of the plant amongst children
  • plant and caretake wattle trees
  • fundraise for the provision of an art scholarship.

Famed Queensland sculptor, Daphne Mayo OBE, was the first recipient of the scholarship and was followed by several esteemed Queensland artists as beneficiaries of the scholarship.

World War One soon followed and the League broadened its scope to also fund artificial limbs for returned soldiers.

In 1952, the League gained interest in helping people with disabilities and in 1965 the League changed its name to the Queensland Wattle Day League for the Disabled.

The League began to provide workshops to enable people with disabilities to have access to employment, and 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 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 name once 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, including the expansion of our services into northern New South Wales.

After 110 years of evolution, the core purpose of Open Minds – its commitment to community – remains the same, as does its kinship with the Wattle.

We continue to celebrate Wattle Day each year on 1st September where, with great pride, we reflect on the rich history and resilience of our organisation.

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