The Tardiss Story

The Beginning

A small group of passionate and very dedicated people living in North Queensland got together to discuss what they could do to help people with a disability receive quality care.  Where the person is central of all decisions and that they are treated with dignity and respect.

The group decided the only way to achieve this objective was to establish an organisation where they could set the objectives, philosophy and ethics of the organisation.  Hence the birth of Townsville And Regional Disability Individualised Support Service or what was affectionately referred to as TARDISS.

Now the work began, with many hundreds of hours of volunteer work was put into setting up the framework, policies and procedures for TARDISS. One of the big decisions was what to call this new organisation.  After much deliberation and consternation, the group finally came up with the name Townsville And Regional Disability Individualised Support Service Inc, reflecting the desire to make the participants front and centre, with services to be individualised to each participant.  And yes, there were some Dr. Who fans in this group.  Hence the acronym TARDISS.

TARDISS was finally incorporated on 6 January 2011 with much relief from all those involved.

The Journey

Our first participant, Rogena, was born with challenges but also a lot of hopes and dreams. Rogena is a very loving individual with a loud voice and a hug that a grizzly bear would kill for. Her father calls her ‘the voice’ as he says ‘you hear the voice ten minutes before the body arrives’. Rogena is loved by her mum, dad and brother, along with all her support workers, though she can give them a hard time now and then.

Rogena’s mum says ‘before Tardiss we were at our wits end as Rogena wasn’t getting the care she needed and deserved’ and ‘since Tardiss, Rogena has developed in her communication skills and confidence, and knows her rights as an individual, which is very important to us’.

Michael, our second participant is a quadriplegic, resulting from a diving accident when he was 27 years old. Michael has an incredible brain and will converse on any subject. Along with his intelligence is a wicked sense of humour which makes him fun to be around. Michael manages his own support workers from advertising vacancies to shortlisting, interviewing and final selection. Michael says ‘I wouldn’t be able to get the support I need without the flexibility Tardiss provides’ and ‘I love working with Tardiss as they just seem like family to me’.

Previously Michael had no option but to receive what he was given.  Now he is the one hiring, training and managing all of his Support Workers. Michael gets more loyalty, reliability and respect from his support workers because the buck stops with him, not some distant HQ.  Tardiss is still doing what was originally set up by Michael back in 2011.

He is a good example of getting things right the first time and following through on commitments made.  There have not been the problems of the past, he has control over his own life even if that has brought with it new challenges, he is happier.

Tardiss continued with the invaluable support of volunteers in the management area which helped the organisation establish a good financial position. Tardiss could not exist without the enormous contribution volunteers have, and continue to make, towards bettering the lives of people with a disability.  Barry Moyle and Esma Wickham in particular as volunteers spent many years building Tardiss into a sustainable organisation ready for its next phase of existence.

As Tardiss grows, we continue to build our range of services and assets for our participants.  We now have dual purpose wheelchair accessible vehicles in Townsville and Charter Towers.

TARDISS has grown from the early days and is now supporting participants in Townsville, Charters Towers and Mount Isa, with a hope that this will expand when the NDIS rolls out across the north.  With a new phase for Tardiss the board and Members decided to shorten our official name to be simply Tardiss Inc., although we are determined to remain true to our founding TARDISS principles, keeping it local, personal and individualised.

Tardiss is now registered as a Public Benevolent Insitution (charity) though this we demonstrate our commitment to always remaining as a not-for-profit / for community purpose organisation.


Many in the disability sector did not think that the new Tardiss model could survive, and it was a struggle.  But with determination, and literally thousands of hours of volunteer work, Tardiss has grown to now provide support for high needs participants and various people with a lower levels of need who come and go when they need the support.

In 2010 family and community members came together to create Tardiss because they were sick of being treated as ‘just a number’.  They wanted to create an organisation where families had control and were given respect in their dealings with their service provider.

They created a three tier model of service provision: Fully Supported Management, Shared Management and Self-Management.  This rightfully puts the control and decision making about the participant’s funding package into the hands of the participant and their family.

Over the past five years the Tardiss family have successfully completed several audits, including most recently achieving Institute for Healthy Communities Australia certification under the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand.

We have proven that even a small organisation can compete and flourish in a sector dominated by large organisations, participants will never be ‘just a number’ with Tardiss.

A model that is proven

Since its creation Tardiss has been happy to see both the State Government (Your Life Your Choice) and Federal Government (National Disability Insurance Scheme) adopt new policy models very similar to what Tardiss was created to deliver. Capable participants should be able to manage their own funds.  Where they don’t have the capacity, the people responsible for their funds should be able to focus on participants’ ability to achieve their goals.

Tardiss does not have the marketing and bureaucratic size of other disability support services.  Being small, we have the added advantage of providing much more personalised support.

Rogina and Michael were the first, but we do have similar stories for all of our participants who each have very differing challenges and ambitions, they do not want to feel the obligation to conform to their service provider rather than the other way round.