History of Interchange

History of Interchange

The beginnings of Interchange

Interchange was established in 1980 by Maureen Crawford, the parent of a child with an intellectual disability.

Maureen’s five-year-old son James’ needs were increasing as he grew, and she was struggling to cope.

“The pressure of caring for James alone became physically and emotionally crippling,” Maureen said. “There was not one community body in our area able to offer respite care on a regular basis. Other parents like myself were isolated, often lacking in self-esteem, and unable to organise themselves because of the heavy, daily pressure of caring for their disabled children.”

Maureen also worried about the long term effects this strain would have on her and her family.

“As my other children were growing older, I realised that not only was I unable to help him to develop outside interests, but that the locked doors and gates were isolating my children to an unnatural degree,” Maureen said. “This led to the realisation that if relief was not available on a regular basis, I and the rest of the family would disintegrate. I cannot stress how important this feeling of impending disintegration was in the motivation behind Interchange.”

Together with a small group of parents, she opened the first Interchange program in Camberwell, Victoria, which is now known as Interchange Inner East. The program was designed to give families who had a child with a disability a regular break, through sharing the care with other people.

These people were known as hosts and would care for the child on a regular basis, allowing a much needed break for parents. Whilst this break was invaluable for parents, it was also recognised as an incredibly enjoyable experience for the person with a disability and the host.

Since this time, Interchange and its programs have grown from strength to strength. There are now 14 agencies across Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania.

History of our logo

old-interchange-smallThe first Interchange logo was adopted from the International Year of the Disabled in 1981. The peaks at the back represented the two homes; the child’s family home and the Interchange host family home. The hands were a symbol of the support and sharing of care between the child’s family and host carers.





The current Interchange logo was adopted in 2006 to coincide with a new marketing campaign: the “sunny day in winter”. The sun brings warmth and symbolises the opportunities open to the lives of young people with disability, their families, carers and volunteers. The tag line was originally “where ability shines” but is now “creating opportunities”.




December 1980Maureen Crawford holds a meeting of professional workers and parents who overwhelmingly support the establishment of Victoria’s first Interchange program.
May 1981St John’s Home for Boys and Girls in Canterbury is chosen as the first Interchange Auspice Agency. This agency is now known as Interchange Inner East.
July 1981First training program for volunteer carers is held, with 19 host families attending.
Sept 1981First Interchange Annual General Meeting
1981Interchange receives its first government grant of $4,000 in the International Year of Disabled Persons.
1982Interchange Outer East, Interchange Northern and Interchange Barwon (now Gateways Support Services) are formed.
1984A state-wide body, Interchange Victoria, is incorporated to; ensure Interchange’s financial security; to set and maintain minimum service objectives; to resource new and developing services; and to coordinate state-wide publicity.
1986Interchange Gippsland and Interchange Central Highlands (now Pinarc Disability Support) are formed.
1990There are ten regional and seven metropolitan Interchange programs across Victoria.
2004The Jean Simpson Award is established to celebrate the life and achievements of the late Jean Simpson, a long-time Interchange employee and campaigner for flexible respite for families who have a child with a disability. The annual award recognises both staff and volunteers who demonstrate a strong commitment to Interchange and a continual effort to strive towards excellence.
2013Interchange Victoria undergoes a large business restructure and moves premises from Braybrook to Melbourne’s CBD.
2014Interchange Victoria officially changes its name to Interchange Incorporated to reflect its nationwide operations.

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