May Villa was established at Carlingford, or Dundas, by the State Children's Relief Board in 1919. It was first a home for around 30 girls defined in 1919 as 'feeble-minded', but in 1920 it became a home for primary school aged boys who were also defined as 'feeble-minded'. It had a special school attached to the premises and in its early years the teachers were trained in the Montessori method. In 1975, May Villa began operating as a Residential Care Unit for primary school-age boys. May Villa was closed by the end of 1983.
The State Children's Relief Board Annual Report of 1919 reported the establishment of May Villa as a specialist institution that was designed to treat school-aged girls who were considered 'feeble-minded' or 'mentally defective'. These were terms used to describe people who were considered intellectually disabled, but could also mean the children had behavioural problems. In 1920 May Villa became a home for school-aged boys.
In its first year May Villa had a special school attached to the premises. Teachers at this school were trained in the Montessori method, which incorporated music, singing, dance, drumming, play and craft into the children's routines. The teachers also applied psychological treatments to improve children's confidence. The home was run as cottage care.
Images from Child Welfare Department Annual Reports in the 1960s show that a new school was built in the grounds in around 1963, and that there was an extensive playground, with climbing equipment, a cubby house and a toy car.
According to the State Records Authority of NSW, in 1967, the capacity of May Villa was 30 boys. In 1975, the younger boys were transferred to Brush Farm Home, and May Villa began operating as a Residential Care Unit for primary school-age boys, all of whom attended community schools.
Sources used to compile this entry: Report of the State Children's Relief Board, W.A. Gullick, Government Printer, Sydney, 1894-1920. Also available at https://www.opengov.nsw.gov.au/main; Government Schools of New South Wales from 1848: Special Education 1866-2004, New South Wales Department of Education and Communities, 2013, https://web.archive.org/web/20170218113507/http://www.governmentschools.det.nsw.edu.au/special_education.shtm; Boys coming out to play at May Villa, with the new school building in the background [Image], Date: c. 1964; Child Welfare Department, Annual Report: Child Welfare Department of New South Wales, New South Wales government, 1923-1970. Also available at https://www.opengov.nsw.gov.au/main; 'May Villa', in State Records Authority of New South Wales website, State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority of NSW 2016, https://www.records.nsw.gov.au/agency/6557; "May Villa" boys show improved ability and co-ordination on the climbing equipment [Image], Date: c. 1967; McLean, Donald, Children In Need: An account of the administration and functions of the Child Welfare Department, New South Wales, Australia: with an examination of the principles involved in helping deprived and wayward children, Government Printer, Sydney, 1955, 173 pp; The old car and cubby house in the grounds of "May Villa" [Image], Date: c. 1967; Thinee, Kristy and Bradford, Tracy, Connecting Kin: Guide to Records, A guide to help people separated from their families search for their records [completed in 1998], New South Wales Department of Community Services, Sydney, New South Wales, 1998, https://clan.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/connectkin_guide.pdf; Turtle, Alison, 'Hodgkinson, Lorna Myrtle (1887-1951)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, Melbourne University Press, 1996, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hodgkinson-lorna-myrtle-10515.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 23 March 2011, Last modified: 16 May 2017