I would like to say a personal thanks to all who attended the morning tea for the closure of the Miriam High Special Needs Centre on Monday, September 23.
As many will know the centre was established 36 years ago. This was out of a need in the Port Augusta area, to support families who had children with a disability or an undiagnosed developmental delay.
The need for program came about because there were several families attending the Child Care Centre who felt the need for more support in caring for their child. This was to gain information and friendship, from each other and in so doing learn more about how we could help our child in their development.
As the program developed, we discovered the many areas families needed support and as a small group we together found ways to meet the needs.
From the outset the support from the Port Augusta City Council was very strong and I would like to acknowledge this support. Including the then Director of the Child Care Centre Jenny Hocking. Community members from all levels, took on fund raising activities. This includes many individuals, families, sporting clubs, local businesses including the Taylor Family and Aaron Morgan, police, as well as service clubs.
This meant that whatever the need was we were able to assist the family find a solution.
In the early years the Program developed a pattern of supporting therapists to visit the area from Adelaide, this reducing the pressure on families to make the long journey to the city for guidance and professional support. Over the years the program has supported over 400 families in a variety of ways.
Assisting children to attend mainstream services, undertaking specific programs for the children, offering respite care for parents, as well as constant personal support for families. This included school holiday programs.
We soon discovered that there were families living outside the Port Augusta area, so we needed to make certain people in remote areas were also supported.
I would like to acknowledge the many years of devotion and commitment of both Carmel Boscence and Quanta Hockey who, following my retirement, in turn, took on the leadership of the program. Without their understanding of the philosophy of the program it would have ceased to meet the needs of all involved.
My gratitude and thanks also go to the many loyal staff members who have worked alongside the three of us over the years. Some for short periods but many for the long haul. It has been this commitment to the task that has supported and enriched so many families.
I would also like to offer my personal thanks to Dr Nigel Stewart who has backed the program from the moment he arrived in Port Augusta offering ongoing support to not only families but also the staff of the centre.
There are so many people to be thanked, including Allied Health staff as well as visiting agencies from Adelaide who have all played a part in making this project so successful over the years. Last but certainly not least thanks must go the Anne O'Reilly (Port Augusta City Council) who fought alongside families and supporters of the project, to save it from closure.
Over the years the program has seen changes, however the main purpose was always to offer whatever support was needed to families without delay. I do hope this support will continue through other agencies in the community and that the needs of the children will be fully covered.
I remain extremely grateful to all those wonderful people who have been part of this journey and am content in the knowledge that it has been reported to have been life changing for many.
Miriam High AM