The Cerebral Palsy Alliance has been operating for over 70 years. Our organisation was developed by a group of parents of children with cerebral palsy, and was originally known as the Spastic Centre of New South Wales. Led by Neil and Audrie McLeod, whose daughter Jennifer had cerebral palsy, these parents built a brighter future for their children – pioneering treatment, education, equipment, employment, recreation, independent living and research for people with cerebral palsy worldwide.

Significant dates in our history

The Spastic Centre changed its name to Cerebral Palsy Alliance to focus attention on cerebral palsy, and pay tribute to our alliance of clients, families, staff, donors, volunteers, government and researchers.

Fire destroyed the Head Office of The Spastic Centre at Allambie Heights on Sunday 16 December.

The Fairfield City Marconi Centre opened at Prairiewood to service Sydney’s growing south and western suburbs. The Spastic Centre opened 22 groups homes to enable adults with cerebral palsy to live and participate in their local communities. Residents were supported with training in independent living.

A Community Access Service was established at West Ryde to provide adults with complex needs access to community-based activities. This was the first project of its type in NSW – and many others followed.

The inspiration for The Spastic Centre, Jennifer McLeod, died in 1986, followed by her parents Audrie McLeod CBE in 1992 and Neil McLeod OBE in 1993.

The Stuart Centre was opened at Croudace Bay, near Newcastle – the forerunner of regional and rural services now located across NSW and the ACT.

Venee Burges Hostel opened at Allambie Heights. Housing 50 residents, the hostel enabled adults with cerebral palsy to fulfil their dream of living independently while still receiving day-to-day support. Four married couples were amongst the residents.

Centre Industries (CO) opened at Allambie Heights. This ambitious manufacturing enterprise offering training and employment for adults with cerebral palsy. It was the first commercial operation that was inclusive of people with and without a disability. Centre Industries became the model for similar projects in the USA and Japan.

The Country Children’s Hostel, later known as McLeod House, opened at Allambie Heights. It was a ‘home away from home’ for dozens of country children who, like their city counterparts, could now access a full range of services. The much-loved nursing staff was assisted by mothers who lived-in for two week periods and regarded all the children as their family.

The first Miss Australia Quest was held to raise funds and awareness of cerebral palsy across Australia. Over the years, Miss Australia received tremendous community and media attention, focusing a national spotlight on the needs of people with cerebral palsy. The quest was later renamed the Miss Australia Awards and continued until 2000.

The spastic centre began its global quest for knowledge of the causes and optimal treatments of cerebral palsy. Dr Earl Carlson, an eminent US physician with cerebral palsy, visited Mosman and declared that the services offered there were unequaled, worldwide.

The spastic centre opened its doors at 5 Queen Street, Mosman. With capital of only £32, it was a shared purpose and common spirit that forged an alliance of children, parents, teachers and therapists. Fifteen children attended on the first day. Mothers were rostered to help throughout the week, while fathers and community volunteers laboured on weekends. Strong friendships were formed that would last a lifetime.