A BRIEF HISTORY OF WELLINGTON AFTER-CARE ASSOCIATION
Wellington After-Care was a pioneer in the field of Sheltered Workshops in New Zealand - for people with intellectual disabilities.
It began in a very small way (two afternoons a week) in 1926, but officially formed as a Voluntary Organisation in 1928 and registered as an Incorporated Society in 1929.
It started out providing an alternative to children who through the new Education Grading System at the time were considered uneducable. Only what were considered “educable” children were admitted to ‘special’ classes.
At this time all the workers for After-Care gave voluntary service. From the beginning the children and young adults were taught handicrafts, enjoyed picnics, various outings and were kept occupied in a loving environment receiving personal help when needed. During the 1930s the Education Act changed to see all children being given the right to attend school and thus the organisation changed to working with adults.
From these beginnings After-Care changed periodically over the years in its service provision. More and more adults attended and more and more people with a wide range of disabilities found their way to the centre.
After-Care became a place to go when there was nowhere else and it consequently became difficult to cater for such a huge range of different needs. In 1992, the organisation began to offer a range of living skills programmes and other learning opportunities, as well as continuing with a range of hand crafts. The focus then moved towards people learning or re-learning skills and equipping people to participate in the wider community.
1994 addressed issues arising from trying to provide needs based programmes for people with intellectual disabilities as well as people with psychiatric disabilities. The planning towards providing separate services for Mental Health Consumers began, which was timely in terms of the deinstitutionalisation process of Porirua Hospital and the move to Community Based Care. The Regional Health Authority, now the Ministry of Health, allowed the planning to become a reality and Wellington After-Care provided three suburban-based Mental Health Day Services in Titahi Bay, Porirua East and Berhampore. These services closed at the end of September 2014 due to the establishment of the Te Arapai model of Mental Health Support Services.
In 1996 ACEmployment, our Supported Employment Service was established and continues to place and support people with disabilities in mainstream workplaces in the open labour market ensuring real work for real pay.
Ace House continues as a community service for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities focusing on life-skills and participation in the wider community.
From small beginnings, Wellington After-Care Association now provides three services to adults with disabilities in the greater Wellington area.