|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
The Children's Cottages at Kew were first opened in 1887 as a ward of the Kew Asylum (VA 2840) and termed the "Idiot Ward". The institution was established to provide separate accommodation for child inmates who had previously been accommodated with adult patients. Although the Cottages only admitted children as patients, many of those children remained in residence at the Cottages as adults.
The function of the institution was to provide accommodation and educational instruction for mentally retarded children. Some Wards of the State and other various "difficult" children were also admitted. During its later years, the institution no longer housed children and instead accommodated adults with intellectual disabilities.
The Cottages at Kew were known as the Kew Idiot Asylum from 1887 until c.1929. From 1929 they have been known as the "Children's Cottages, Kew" or alternatively "Kew Cottages Training Centre". Also in 1929, the Department of Education established the Kew Cottages Special School, the first school in Victoria for children with intellectual disabilities which remained in operation until the end of 1991.
In 1962 the Cottages were proclaimed a "training centre" under the provisions of the 1959 Mental Health Act (No.6605).
In 1982, responsibility for the Cottages transferred from the Mental Health Division to the Mental Retardation Division of the Health Commission. In 1985, responsibility for the Cottages transferred to the Office of Intellectual Disability Services, a division of Community Services Victoria.
Following a tragic fire in April 1996 which killed nine men and a subsequent Coronial Inquest, the Department of Human Services renamed the site Kew Residential Services (KRS) in c.1997.
In May 2001, the Premier Hon Steve Bracks announced the Government's plan to redevelop the Kew Residential Services by relocating the residents to community based housing. The redevelopment was undertaken over a number of years, with the site finally closing in 2008.
Records of the Kew Cottages and Mental Asylum
It appears that the Idiot Asylum/Cottages has largely functioned independently from the main Asylum/Mental Hospital at Kew. The Cottages maintained its own record keeping system for the majority of its patient records, and it has always been listed as a separate agency, rather than a ward of Kew, in the Lists of Public Servants. However it probably relied on the main Asylum for some administrative support. Patients at the Cottages are included in the Annual Examination Registers and the Post Mortem Registers of the main Asylum for example. Therefore the exact relationship between the main Asylum and the Cottages has been difficult to define.
Lunacy Statute 1867
Lunacy Act 1888
Lunacy Act 1890
Lunacy Act 1903
Lunacy Act 1915
Lunacy Act 1928
Mental Hygiene Act 1933
Mental Health Act 1959
Health Commission Act 1977
Intellectually Disabled Persons' Service Act 1986
Disability Services Act 1991
Disability Act 2006