Down Syndrome Australia was established in 2011 as the peak body for people with Down syndrome in Australia.
Our purpose is to influence social and policy change, provide a national profile and voice for people living with Down syndrome, and to build resources and knowledge capacity of the state and territory Down syndrome associations. We work collaboratively with the state and territory Down syndrome associations to achieve our mission.
Our vision is an Australia where people living with Down syndrome are valued, reach their potential and enjoy social and economic inclusion.
Down Syndrome Australia – History and context
While the establishment of DSA as the national voice of Australians with Down syndrome and their families is relatively recent, it has been a long term ambition of the state & territory associations, with strong national networks in place since 1986.
It was at the 10th World Down Syndrome Congress in Dublin in 2009 that a group that included representatives from the Australian state and territory Down syndrome associations came together and committed to creating a national organisation in the form that we have today.
With the main driver, Catherine McAlpine, inaugural CEO of DSA, and an enthusiastic support team that included Angus Graham OAM - the now Chairman of the Board – the first board meeting was held in August of 2011.
DSA has strength in the already long established state and territory associations, with each association maintaining strong and direct links to families and the wider community. Each state and territory supports families of all ages and life stages and have a vast array of service offerings.
Supporting the Down syndrome community is more than just supporting those directly impacted – it’s also about supporting the professionals such as teachers and health practitioners, the people who assist our community in contributing to society. Their local presence across state and territories means that as a unit, DSA is able to make a wider and more dramatic impact by being able to utilise this structure.
Since its inception, DSA has been actively involved with Down Syndrome International (DSi). We are fortunate to have a DSi Trustee, Dr Rhonda Faragher, contributing to our board as an Independent Director. Whether it be contributing to the international campaigns, or hosting a World Down Syndrome Congress, DSA is committed to developing this relationship.
Since early 2015 DSA has also been a full member of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO). Together, the 12 peak disability bodies represent over 90% of Australian’s with disability and 83% of the identified disability groups in Australia.
Today DSA, with the full support of all the state and territory associations, are committed to our mission to influence social and policy change and provide a national profile and voice for people living with Down syndrome.
DSA is funded largely by our members – the state and territory associations. It is important to remember that membership of your State or Territory Association provides much-needed funds to not only DSA, but each individual association and most importantly, links you in with the latest state or territory based information and resources – and especially the vibrant community of people with Down syndrome, their families and supporters. To get in touch with your local Down syndrome association click here.