In 1981, during United Nations International Year of the Disabled, a group of dedicated parents and community workers came together to propose the formation of an association in the Redlands district of Queensland, that would address a lack of local services.
From their efforts, the Handicapped Association of the Redlands District (H.A.R.D) was formed, in order to create opportunities for people with disabilities to develop skills, and actively participate in work and community life.
The early years of the Association were busy and challenging as members raised funds and raised public awareness of the need for local services.
In July 1983, H.A.R.D achieved a major milestone, with the opening of the first Activity Therapy Centre in Capalaba. Funds granted by the Commonwealth Government enabled the centre to open, and the recruitment of permanent staff to develop and run a varied program. Emphasis soon changed to meet the growing needs of the community and it became an Adult Training Centre.
By 1986, a larger facility was opened and this became the headquarters for the growing association and its various arms including numerous small business services, accommodation and respite programs.
So successful were the small business enterprises that additional premises were leased in 1987.
1988 saw the new Disability Service Act coming into effect and the association consulted extensively during this time to implement new services and revise existing ones, with an emphasis on programs for the individual.
Fundraising was a big focus for the organisation for many years, with Art Unions and sales of art and crafts producing much needed funds. Much of the funds raised during the late 1980s went into building appeals. By 1990, works commenced on building a new day activity centre.
Small businesses were prolific at this time, with Dial a Mower, Dial a Fruit Bowl, a herb farm and The Jobbing Shop (which later became Marketforce Mail and Finishing Services. Wire and Wood was doing very well, selling to stockists of hardware, landscaping and pet care goods.
Tough financial times caused by high interest rates in the early 1990s and rising building costs postponed work on the proposed multi-million dollar centre. Plans had to be scaled back to suit available funds. In 1998, the purpose-built facility Horizon Place, on Sussex Street at Alexandra Hills, was opened by the then Minister for Disability. The centre has made a huge difference in opening up opportunities for people with disabilities.
Another milestone was the change in the organisation’s name and structure in 1996 to Horizon Foundation Inc. – a name chosen to reflect the forward-looking aspirations of the organisation. In 1999, the organisation's main services moved to a purpose built its present location at Neumann Road, Capalaba.
The last few years have seen a consolidation of the organisation’s vision and mission, and an expansion of training and employment placement services such as Link Personnel and Horizon Specialised Training.
Marketforce and Wire and Wood continue to perform well as businesses, employing around 33 people.
Post-school and community access programs of various names have evolved into what is now Clear Horizons, Rec Club and COAST. Horizon's post school options program is one of the largest in Queensland.
Axiom Family Support Program delivers State Government funding support for families in the Redland, Logan & Gold Coast regions.
Whereas the organisation was dependent on fund-raising for the first two decades, today Horizon Foundation has established a secure financial position through sound financial management and adherence to exceptional levels of service quality, which have made the organisation the service provider of choice for many. Fundraising income is now is able to be spent directly on support services for people with disability.
Amongst other awards, in 2007 the organisation won a prestigious Australia Day Award recognising the strong contribution made to the community sector.
Horizon Foundation will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2011.