The Eastwood Home for Mothers and Babies was established in 1915 by the State Children's Relief Board at Brush Farm House in Eastwood. Women and children who had been at the Shaftesbury Home for Mothers and Babies were moved there in 1915. Eastwood was designated for women defined as mentally deficient. Around 90 mothers and 200 children passed through Eastwood each year until it closed in 1922. Brush Farm Home opened in the same building in 1922.
Brush Farm is in an area of Eastwood that is part of the Dundas Valley, so sometimes it is described as being in Dundas.
According to research by Naomi Parry into the Annual Reports of the State Children's Relief Board, the Eastwood Home for Mothers and Babies specialised in housing mothers who were considered 'mentally deficient' or 'feeble-minded'. The definition of 'mental deficiency' was very loose and included women who, while unmarried, had more than one child. Eastwood was intended to support mothers to keep their babies and to help the babies survive, but another goal of the institution was to prevent the mothers from having more 'illegitimate' children.
State Records NSW Archives Investigator states:
Eastwood Home for Mothers and Babies was one of three special cottage homes set up by the State Children's Relief Board for the reception of mothers and infants, due to concern about high infant mortality rates, particularly amongst illegitimate children. The 1915 Annual Report of the Board stated that in opening these homes, their objects were to endeavour to preserve a larger proportion of infant life and reduce the number of deaths occurring from preventable diseases; to safeguard the lives of infants during the critical stages of their first few months; provide semi-starved and helpless mothers and expectant mothers with adequate home comforts and nourishment during the period preceding and following the birth of their children; to encourage breast feeding and the proper exercise of maternal function; and to keep young women who were not "inherently vicious" from the "contaminating influences found in association with large maternity units".
1907 - 1913 Thirlmere Babies' Home
c. 1913 - 1915 Shaftesbury Home for Babies and Mothers
1915 - 1922 Eastwood Home for Mothers and Babies
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; 'Brush Farm', in State Heritage Register, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, 2003, http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=5045464; Eastwood Home for Mothers and Babies, State Records Authority of New South Wales website, State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority of NSW 2016. Also available at https://www.records.nsw.gov.au/agency/6428; Parry, Naomi, 'Such a longing': black and white children in welfare in New South Wales and Tasmania, 1880-1940, Department of History, University of New South Wales, 2007, 361 pp, http://unsworks.unsw.edu.au/fapi/datastream/unsworks:1369/SOURCE01?view=true.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 10 April 2012, Last modified: 19 March 2015