Book launch - Failed Ambitions: Kew Cottages and Changing Ideas of Intellectual Disabilities

Event status:

Event pages for Failed Ambitions book Launch, June 13 2023.

Tuesday 13 June 2023 05:30 pm (Add to calendar)
Living With Disability Research Centre
Presented by:
Living with Disability Research Centre and Royal Historical Society of Victoria
Type of Event:

Living with Disability Research Centre, La Trobe University and Royal Historical Society of Victoria invite you to the launch of Failed Ambitions: Kew Cottages and Changing Ideas of Intellectual Disabilities, written by Lee-Ann Monk and David Henderson with Christine Bigby, Richard Broome and Katie Holmes and published by Monash University Press.

The book will be launched by Dr Colleen Pearce AM, The Public Advocate, Victoria.

RSVP: or or +61 3 9326 9288

A gripping history, both topical and timely, the history of Melbourne’s KewChildren’s Cottages (1887–2008) is the challenging story of an institution that failed its residents – and it is vividly relevant to today, when the rights of people with disabilities are the subject of a royal commission.

Those with an intellectual disability were historically the most vulnerable in our society and the least protected. Governments continually failed them by underdelivering on ambitious promises of reform. Failed Ambitions traces the development of Kew Cottages and the broader themes it gives rise to, including changing social ideas about intellectual disability. Australia saw a shift from a belief that those with intellectual disabilities were educatable to a view, which took hold in the 1920s, that the ‘feebleminded’ were unreclaimable and a menace to society. It took until the 1980s to formally recognise the rights of people with a disability, and demanded dismantling institutions like Kew and associated ideas of disability.

Throughout Kew Cottages’ history, a cohort of journalists, parents, activists and residents fought for and finally gained greater rights and respect. This is a moving and powerful story that deserves to be read by all policymakers so we can avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.

Purchase the book:

Royal Historical Society of Victoria. Fully accessible building.

239 A’Beckett Street, Melbourne 3000

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