The Sunshine Institute was founded in 1923 on the Pacific Highway at Gore Hill by Lorna Hodgkinson. It was a school and residential institution for children and adults with intellectual and other forms of disability. In 1951, the Sunshine Institute became the Lorna Hodgkinson Sunshine Home.
The Sunshine Home was established by Dr Lorna Hodgkinson, a teacher who had worked with disabled children at May Villa, near Parramatta, before gaining qualifications in psychology from Harvard University. She returned to New South Wales in 1922 to take up a post created for her by the Department of Public Instruction as a government psychologist and supervisor of the education of mental defectives. She was later dismissed, after publicly criticising the Department's management of mentally defective children in the 1923 Royal Commission on Lunacy Law and Administration.
According to her biographer, Alison Turtle, Hodgkinson believed 'feeble-minded' children should be segregated from the rest of the community and that 'higher-grade' children could be trained for later economic self-sufficiency in residential training schools. Her view was that the 'less able' should remain in a self-supporting cottage-colony system.
In 1924 Lorna Hodgkinson rented a house on the Pacific Highway at Gore Hill and set up the Sunshine Institute, a private residential training school for mentally defective pupils. In 1930 she bought a portion of the site, and spent the rest of her life building up the establishment to 60 pupils. She died in 1951 and her ashes were buried on the site. Before her death she had converted the institute to a not-for-profit organisation under a board of trustees, to whom she bequeathed the bulk of her estate. The institute was renamed the Lorna Hodgkinson Sunshine Home.
1923 - 1951 Sunshine Institute
1951 - Lorna Hodgkinson Sunshine Home
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Home for those who are always children', Australian Women's Weekly, 3 September 1958, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article51200593; 'About Us - History', in Sunshine website, Sunshine, http://sunshinelgd.org.au/about-us/history/; 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: 24 April 2013, Last modified: 30 August 2013