Kurrajong was a special school and hostel complex that was set up in Wagga Wagga by the Society for the Welfare of Retarded Children in 1961. Hostels for children were set up from 1972, but closed in 1986. In 2013 Kurrajong (as Kurrajong Waratah) was a disability support service for babies, children, young people and adults.
In 1957 the Mayor of Wagga Wagga, Ivan Jack, called a public meeting to discuss the lack of services for 'retarded' children and their families in Wagga Wagga. The Society for the Welfare of Retarded Children was formed, and a 'minding centre' established in a Girl Guide Hall in Johnston Street, Wagga Wagga.
In 1957 Jaycees joined the fundraising drive and the Society leased land from the New South Wales Education Department. A registered school followed, at the Wagga Showground and Kurrajong School opened at Lord Baden Powell Drive in 1961. In 1967 the New South Wales Department of Education opened Kurrajong Park Special School on the same site, and a hostel for children and adults was built.
In 1970 Waratah Industries, a supported employment service for people with disabilities, was founded. In 1972 a hostel for adolescents opened at Lord Baden Powell Drive, followed by a hostel for adults in 1979. Early intervention programmes were introduced in 1981 and in 1982 Kurrajong became known as Kurrajong Complex. In 1983 the Department of School Education took over responsibility for children and adolescents with a disability at Kurrajong Park Special School and Kurrajong withdrew from education. Kurrajong Park changed its name to Willans Hill School in 1995.
Kurrajong Complex merged with Wagga Wagga Early Intervention in 1984, and with Waratah Industries in 1985, forming Kurrajong Complex and Waratah Industries incorporation Early Intervention. This was shortened to Kurrajong Waratah Industries Ltd in 1990 and to Kurrajong Waratah in 1999.
In 1986 four community-based group homes were established and the Children's Hostel was closed. By 1998 all adults were living in the community and all residential programmes had closed. Since then Kurrajong Waratah has merged with other Riverina disability providers to run early intervention, employment support and other programmes for people with disabilities.
'Kurrajong Children's Home' was mentioned in a 1979 Commonwealth Government report called Why are they in children's homes: report of the ACOSS children's home intake survey.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Kurrajong's History', in Kurrajong website, Kurrajong, 2013, https://www.kurrajong.com.au/about-us/history/; Hanson, Dallas, Why are they in children's homes: report of the ACOSS children's home intake survey, Australian Department of Social Services: Australian Council of Social Services, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1979, 83 pp.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 10 May 2013, Last modified: 16 December 2022