Wanslea, at Bexley, was a residence for around 18 homeless girls of working age that was opened by the Women's Australian National Services (WANS) in New South Wales in 1944. It was modelled on a Western Australian not-for-profit organisation, Wanslea, that was set up by Western Australian WANS in 1943. Wanslea closed in 1946 and became Lucy Gullett House, a convalescent home for females.
Wanslea, at Bexley, was funded by New South Wales Women's Australian National Service branches in Newcastle and Sydney. It was officially opened by Lady Wakehurst, President and Commander-in-Chief of WANS and wife of the New South Wales Governor, on 21 May 1945. An open day was held on 25 June 1945.
The Women's Australian National Service was set up during World War II to assist wartime efforts on the home front. It had chapters across Australia, most notably in Western Australia and New South Wales.
Lady Wakehurst, the wife of the Governor of New South Wales and president of New South Wales WANS, supported Wanslea, saying during fundraising for the home:
As the WANS were pioneers of training, with other organisations, in wartime, I hope they will be pioneers in women's social work in peace.
When Lady Wakehurst, dressed in her WANS uniform, opened the home in May 1945 she said 'Wanslea is a monument to the devotion to duty and the fine, unselfish spirit of the WANS.'
When the Home opened, Matron MH Bowden was placed in charge. It had 18 beds, three in each room, and a sick bay for girls needing isolation.
Wanslea was intended to support 'girls who are going through temporary periods of trouble' while employment was found for them. The organisers called these girls 'homeless and friendless'.
Wanslea closed in 1946 and became the Lucy Gullett House, a convalescent home for female patients from Rachel Forster Hospital.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'OPENING OF WANSLEA', The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 May 1945. Also available at http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17940548; 'Rehabilitation of Servicewomen: Claims of Women's Land Army', The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 July 1945, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27920242; 'Wanslea to be opened soon', The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 February 1945, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27927048; Cunneen, Chris, 'Wakehurst, Margaret Loder (1899-1994)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, Melbourne University Press, 2002, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/wakehurst-margaret-loder-12109; Private communication between Dr Naomi Parry and Dr Vanessa Witton, Dictionary of Sydney, February 2015.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 9 November 2012, Last modified: 19 March 2015