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1952 to 1975 - Living


Overcrowding Despite Improvement


At the Children's Cottages there is building or other activity in at least nine places, but in no case has the remodelling of a cottage been completed, and the new cottages have not commenced. Unless we can have more cottages soon to take the overcrowding, the conversion of old cottages will have to stop. The staff messroom is completed, and a new occupational therapy block is under construction. As each cottage is remodelled there is a loss of overcrowded bed space and a consequent further overcrowding of existing cottages. It is impossible to improve the welfare and training of patients, or to accede to the many pathetic requests of parents for better accommodation for their children, until we have more cottages.

Psychiatrist-Superintendent, Dr J. V. Ashburner, Mental Hospital, Kew.
Report of the Mental Hygiene Authority for the Year ended 30th June, 1954, Victoria Papers Presented to Parliament, 1955, Vol. II, page 33.



There has been considerable activity during the year in building and remodelling. Ward 13 was completed and occupied, and provides a high standard of accommodation. The remodelling of Ward 24 was proceeded with and has been almost completed, and the ward will be re-occupied early in the New Year. A start was made on the remodelling of Ward 22. As previously mentioned, good progress appears to have been made on the big building consisting of the new kitchen for staff and patients, the store, and staff amenities. Right at the end of the year work was commenced on new dependent wards down in the valley. Work proceeded during the year on the new nursing hostel, which appears to be nearly completed.

A residence is being erected for the Head Male Nurse in the area adjoining Princess Street North, and good progress was also made on this project. Possibly the outstanding event in building was the construction of the Geiger Playhouse which was completed and opened by Mr. Geiger. Already this new playhouse has been used successfully for several entertainments, and it will undoubtedly fill a long-felt want as an amenities and playroom. Ward 28-29 was completed and opened during the year, and is now occupied by the schoolboy population. 

Psychiatrist Superintendent, Dr. W.A. Brady, Children's Cottages, Kew.
Report of the Mental Hygiene Authority for the year ended 31st December, 1960, Victoria Papers Presented to Parliament, 1955, Vol. II, page 79.



The Children's Cottages, Kew, have completed another difficult year. Although very great advances have been made during the last decade, there is still very much to be done to bring standards up to a proper level and to reduce the gross over-crowding which continues in some areas.

There have been significant changes in the type of patient admitted to the Cottages over the years. As the result of the extreme shortage of accommodation and the pressures of the large waiting list, patients admitted are tending to become more severely retarded and to have a higher incidence of physical illness and deformities. Of our in-patient population, which averaged 918 throughout the year, 54 per cent are within the profoundly retarded range. More than 200 patients are suffering from associated physical disabilities so severe as to require special nursing and specially designed accommodation, and a number of these patients are housed in wards designed for other purposes.

Psychiatrist Superintendent, Dr J. L. Evans and Secretary Mr. D. Nugent, Children's Cottages, Training Centre.
Report of the Mental Health Authority for the Year ended 31st December, 1968, Victoria Papers Presented to Parliament, 1969-70, Vol. III, page 90.

Kew cottages ward beds.jpg

Incarceration and Freedom



Freedom - The policy was followed of giving as much freedom to individual patients as was possible and considerable numbers of patients went on trial leave for varying periods, and for weekend visits. The practice is growing of parents taking better grade children home for school holidays and quite a number of our patients attend local entertainments, such as football and cricket fixtures, film, &c. ... The year was quite a difficult one with many patients still housed in quite inadequate temporary accommodation. The wards were even more grossly overcrowded than in 1955, and there is still a great shortage of suitable fenced areas for ambulatory children. This means that many low grade children have to be kept indoors quite frequently for their own protection, and on many occasions members of the nursing staff had to leave their wards and search extensively for small children who had wandered away from unfenced wards.

Deputy Psychiatrist-Superintendent, Dr W.A. Brady, Kew Children's Cottages,
Report of the Mental Hygiene Authority for the Year ended 31st December, 1956, Victoria Papers Presented to Parliament, 1958-60, Vol. II, page 61.

Special School Kew cottages.jpg

Work and Education

Occupational Therapy - The O.T. Department functioned actively during the year. Some 238 children received training in various groups.

Occupational Therapy - The O.T. Department functioned actively during the year.

Some 238 children received training in various groups as follows: -

Kindergarten Group (half-day per group). 
Forty-eight children attended, and most showed a good response. The senior Occupational Therapist reports that there is a need for a new Kindergarten building appropriately designed for the training needs of small children.

Intermediate Sections A and B (Full-day programme). 
These sections included 58 children. They were of an older age group and their training was to prepare them for later activities in the Industrial Workshop.

Industrial Training Workshop (Full-day). 
Sixty children were trained here. This group is satisfactorily housed in the new Workshop and very good progress has been made by the boys and girls. New industrial work was made available by Vatmi and was completed well to schedule, and satisfactorily.

Multiple Handicap Section (Full-day). 
This section catered for 18 children who are predominantly adolescent boys and girls, all are severely handicapped and unable, owing to their disabilities, to fit into the Industrial Workshop programme. These children showed a good response and two of the girls were able to be transferred to the Industrial Workshop and one boy is now successfully holding his place as a trainee worker at the Lady Herring Centre. 

Play Therapy and Assessment Section (Sessional basis).
Some 30 children were seen in this Section during the year. This section is filling a long felt need for psychotic and emotionally disturbed children for whom previously little could be done. There are four groups of one-hour's duration daily. Play therapy techniques are used and the Therapist meets a medical officer once weekly to discuss the cases and their management.

A number of psychotic children who had previously proved unresponsive showed an interesting response to this form of management. Children referred for assessment from Case Conference are also seen initially in this section.

Lower Level Training Groups. A and B (one hour per day). 
Twenty-four children attended this group.


Psychiatrist Superintendent, Dr. W.A. Brady and Secretary Mr D. Nugent, Children's Cottages, Kew.
Report of the Mental Health Authority for the period 1st January, 1964 to 31st December, 1965,

Victoria Papers Presented to Parliament, 1965, Vol. II, page 101.

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