Our Beginnings

In 1954, a father speaks up for some the world forgets...

Gwen was a young mum on the edge of a breakdown. Her daughter was born with complex disabilities and needed tending around the clock, which left no time to care for her other youngsters. Gwen's health was failing. Unable to cope with placing their daughter in the Claremont Mental Hospital, her husband Frank Anderson approached The Daily News, hoping something could be done to help parents like themselves.

From Frank Anderson's story,
Nulsen Disability Services was born.

Today, Nulsen is one of Western Australia's leading disability services organisations focusing on people with complex disabilities. In this, our 60th year, we'd like to share with you stories of our history and the organisation that we've become.

Did you know 1 in 5 Australians has a disability?

16% of Australians live with a disability that can affect their self care, mobility, communication, schooling or employment.

6% of Australians have a profound or complex disability.

Reference: Australian Bureau of Statistics. Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings-2012

Our Founders

Frank Anderson's news story won a quick response from other parents. Within a month the Mentally Incurable Children's Association was formed ‘to establish a special institution to care for microcephalic children and so ease the strain on parents'.

Here are the inaugural office bearers:

Our Leaders

Going against the grain of what is commonly supposed about people with complex disabilities takes courage. In 1967, Matron Jill Bennett ushered in a new era with her unshakeable conviction that learning skills would enrich the lives of residents.

Jill Bennett (left) and long-serving Board Director and President Peg Parkin (right), pursued their goal of creating a better life for people living with complex disabilities with great perseverance; in Jill’s case, for more than 16 years, and Peg’s for 21 years.

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“You now have people living independent lives to the best of their ability and participating in everything. I think that is absolutely wonderful.”

Peg Parkin, long-serving Board Director and President

Today, we take it for granted that people living with disabilities live in houses as part of the community. But 25 years ago, that wasn’t the case. Back then, people in need of supported accommodation lived in large hostels.

Gordon Trewern
Chief Executive Officer

"Today, Nulsen is one of Western Australia's leading disability services organisations focusing on people with complex disabilities. In this, our 60th year, we'd like to share with you stories of our history and the organisation that we've become."

Gordon Trewern is our dedicated and courageous Chief Executive Officer. He began his career at Nulsen Disability Services as a support worker when he was 19 years old.

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Our Support Workers

Being a support worker is an amazing job. This grandmother, mother and daughter share over 50 years of service between them. Three generations of compassion, resilience, courage and commitment.

Hear Angie, Wendy and Tanya talk of the sense of pride, joy and fulfilment they receive from their work at Nulsen Disability Services.

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“I never saw myself really doing anything else.”

Tanya Abbott, Nulsen Disability Services support worker.

Our Supporters

Nulsen has always relied on the support of friends and partners to help it make a bigger difference in the lives of people with complex disabilities. In the early days, parents raised money to keep the doors open and farmers donated fruits and vegetables.

The Ladies' Auxiliary

Over the years, the Ladies’ Auxiliary organised most of the fundraising activities, from fetes and raffles to street appeals, sewing and baking. In 1967, they set up an Opportunity Shop in Victoria Park, an extremely successful fundraising venture that continued until 2017.

Ethel Hodgson, Ruth Anderson and Edie Dawson

Ethel Hodgson
Ladies' Auxiliary

“It was a wonderful feeling and I’ve made some wonderful friends.”

Hear Ethel, Ruth and Edie speak of their life-long allegiance to Nulsen Disability Services.

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Our partnerships with long-term friends, Homebuyers Centre and Zenith Insurance Services have seen Nulsen go from strength to strength.

Hear Greg Carter and Kim Gilbert express how partnering with Nulsen is a deeply human experience.

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“Supporting Nulsen makes me sleep a little bit better at night. If you get as much out of the community as I have, then you have to give something back.”

Greg Carter, Homebuyers Centre

“Nulsen go above and beyond most other organisations as they have brought all their residents in as a big family.”

Kim Gilbert, Zenith Insurance Services

Our Colleagues

During its 60-year history, Nulsen Disability Services has always advocated for better services on behalf of people with complex disabilities and their families.

Hear Barry MacKinnon speak of Nulsen Disability Services as being organised, well managed and moving with the times.

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“If there was to be a criticism Nulsen would voice it openly but fairly, and always in the interests of looking after people with disabilities.”

Barry MacKinnon AM, Life Member and former Chair of the Disability Services Commission

Our Archives

Step through the archives

Step back in time and discover rare footage from a bygone era. Read up on Annual Reports, explore Nulsen Haven: A History book and memoirs by former Chairman and Life Member, Eric Goddard.

Historical Documents

Nulsen Haven: A History 1954-1993

The 60’s
Early 70's
The 80’s: Helping Themselves
Late 70's
The 90’s: Still Here, Still Caring

Our Future

As we celebrate and reflect on the previous 60 years at Nulsen Disability Services, we look forward to the future and continuing to enrich the lives of people living with complex disabilities.

Hear Mariani Peck and Prof. David Gilchrist speak about the success of Nulsen Disability Services and its future.

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“Being 60 years old proves that Nulsen has considerable experience in the service it provides. I think it understands what it does well, but more importantly it understands how to protect the interest of its residents and their families.”

Prof. David Gilchrist, Chairman Nulsen Board

If you would like to show your support for Nulsen and our future, please visit our website.