Cooinda was established as the Terang and District Retarded Children’s Centre, after a public meeting on 24th September 1954. A committee of volunteers and family members was formed to oversee the development of the organisation and the name “Cooinda” chosen as it means “a happy place”. Initially using the Church of England hall, 9 children were enrolled.

In 1955 with growing enrolments the property at 35 Dow Street was established with generous support from the Terang and District community. In the 1960’s a kindergarten extension was completed and enrolments grew to over 30 children. Cooinda has grown over the years with the adult training unit being added and eventually the children’s section separating to become the special school in the mainstream education system.

A range of adult training programs were offered including the running of a full dairy farm and a workshop area was built. A second campus in Camperdown was established in the 1990’s.

Supported accommodation was first offered in 1974 with the opening of Villa One in Dow Street. Later, thanks to a number of grants and bequests, another two full time supported residential houses were opened and McPhee Respite House established to offer much needed support to families on a short term basis.

Cooinda has now grown to an organisation which employs 140 staff, supporting approximately 100 participants offering both day programs, independent living and residential support.

From the commitment and caring of families and the Terang and District community in the 1950’s Cooinda continues to be an organisation whose values connect it strongly with the communities and families of the district and beyond.

From ‘The History of Cooinda 1954-1994’