Failed Ambitions: A History of Kew Cottages

Dr Lee-Ann Monk & Dr David Henderson

Opened in 1887, Kew Cottages was Australia’s first purpose built institution for people with intellectual disabilities. Contemporaries considered it a ‘distinct advance on anything yet done for the feeble-minded children in Australia’.

Five decades later the institution had become the subject of almost universal condemnation. In the words of Rohan Rivett, the cottages had become ‘a hillside of sadness’, where residents eked out a bare existence in an institution which lacked even the most basic amenities.

The lecture by Lee-Ann Monk and David Henderson follows the release of their groundbreaking history of the Kew Cottages in 2023.

Wednesday 13 March,7.30 for 8.00pm

Just Theatre, Kew Court House

188 High Street, Kew VIC 3101


In person lecture, with refreshments $20. Tickets at door, online at or by phone 9278 4770


Told through manuscripts, objects and pictures from the collections of the Kew Historical Society

Kew Court House, 188 High Street, Fridays 11.00am to 1.00pm

13 March – 30 August 2024

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