When Help Enterprises, the organisation responsible for managing the McIntyre Centre, announced the Pinjarra Hills centre’s unexpected closure due to operational difficulties, the local community was eager to see the organisation resurrected. A group of community members are now in the process of seeing what, if anything, can be done.
For nearly six decades, Help Enterprises has provided vital assisted therapy and support to disabled individuals, earning deep respect and admiration from the local community.
The McIntyre Centre had its humble beginnings at the home of Peter and June McIntyre in 1964, with the noble goal of aiding disabled individuals through horse-riding therapy. The program’s immense success soon necessitated a move to a 16-hectare site. For 53 years, it thrived, continuing its vital work until it was gifted to Help Enterprises in 2017.
Help Enterprises invested approximately $4 million in the school’s infrastructure and improvements after it took over operation six years ago. At its peak, the Centre was said to have had a stable of nearly 40 horses, with around 16 programs weekly.
Despite these efforts, the organisation revealed that it was costing them around $700,000 per month to keep the school running, with funding from the National Disability Insurance Scheme falling short.
The situation has been further exacerbated by a dramatic decline in the number of annual rides provided, plummeting from 7,500 when Help Enterprises took over to a mere 2,800.
Help Enterprises has contacted the previous owners of the horses, some of whom have expressed interest to take them back. Two of the older ones are being rehomed with former McIntyre staff members.
Help Enterprises has also initiated the process of selling the other horses, raising concerns about the future of the centre’s assets.
A committed group of community members formed a steering committee to strategise the revival of the McIntyre Centre. They are working on a proposal to present to Help Enterprises, despite the organisation’s reluctance to comment or respond.
Mr. John Williams, the President of the Lions Club of Brisbane West, conveyed the community’s desire to see the McIntyre Centre restored as a community asset.
He underscored its significance to the disabled community and various other local groups, highlighting the urgency of its revival and likening its absence to a deeply felt loss.
Whilst Help Enterprises has not been forthcoming with details about the Deed of Gift, Queensland University Law Professor Ross Grantham sees potential solutions. If the Deed of Gift permits amendments, court involvement might not be necessary. Alternatively, transferring ownership of the organisation to another charitable entity could be a better alternative.