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Victoria - Organisation

Kew Children's Cottages (1887 - 2008)

  • Idiot Asylum, Kew

    Idiot Asylum, Kew, c. 1900

Disability Institution, Government-run and Home
Alternative Names
  • Idiot Ward (1887 - 1929)
  • Kew Asylum
  • Kew Cottages
  • Kew Residential Services

Kew Children's Cottages date back to 1887, It was located adjacent to the Kew Asylum and was also known as the 'idiot ward'. It provided accommodation and education to children with intellectual disabilities. It was closed in 2008.


Kew Children's Cottages became known by that name from around 1929, although the Kew Asylum had housed children throughout its history.

At around 1929 , the Department of Education established the Kew Cottages Special School (State School 4431). It was the first school in Victoria for children with intellectual disabilities. The school remained in operation until the end of 1991.

In 1937, over 200 residents of the Cottages were transferred to the institution at Janefield.

In 1957 the administration of Kew Cottages was separated from that of the Kew Mental Hospital.

In 1962 the Cottages were proclaimed a 'training centre' under the provisions of the 1959 Mental Health Act (No.6605).

In 1996, nine residents died in a fire at the institution.

In 2001, the Victorian government announced its intentions to close Kew Cottages. It finally closed in 2008.


1887 - 2008
Location - Kew Children's Cottages was located in Princess Street, Kew. Location: Kew

Related Glossary Terms

Related Organisations



  • Brown, Janet, Dolly Stainer of Kew Cottages, Currency Press, 2006. Details
  • Judge, Cliff; van Brummelen, Fran, Kew Cottages: the world of Dolly Stainer, Spectrum Publications, Richmond, 2002. Details
  • Manning, Corinne, Bye-Bye Charlie: stories from the vanishing world of Kew Cottages, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 2008. Details

Book Sections

  • Reeves, Keir and David Nichols, '"No less than a palace": Kew Asylum, its planned surrounds and its present day residents', in Logan, William and Keir Reeves (eds), Places of pain and shame: dealing with 'difficult heritage', Routledge, 2009. Details

Journal Articles

  • Manning, Corinne, 'Imprisoned in State Care: Life Inside Kew Cottages, 1925-2008', Health and History, vol. 11, no. 1, May 2009, pp. 149-171. Details

Newspaper Articles

Online Resources


Idiot Asylum, Kew
Idiot Asylum, Kew
c. 1900


Sources used to compile this entry: 'Agency VA 2852 Kew Cottages', in Public Record Office Victoria Online Catalogue, Agency details, catalogue entry, Public Record Office Victoria,; 'Agency VA 2865 Department of Mental Hygiene', in Public Record Office Victoria Online Catalogue, Agency details, catalogue entry, Public Record Office Victoria,

Prepared by: Cate O'Neill