Living with Disability Research Centre Research Seminar Series

Event status:

September Seminar

Date:
Wednesday 08 September 2021 03:00 pm until Wednesday 08 September 2021 03:00 pm (Add to calendar)
Contact:
Lauren De Losa
Lids@latrobe.edu.au
Presented by:
Living with Disability Research Centre
Type of Event:
Public

Our September Seminar features two historians delving into the history of the Kew Cottages, the oldest institution for people with intellectual disabilities in Australia, which finally closed in 2008. The seminar will offer a snapshot of a wider, co-authoured history of the Kew Cottages, which will be published next year.


'They had little chance': The fire at the Kew Cottages in 1996

Emeritus Professor Richard Broome, La Trobe University

On the evening of Easter Monday 1996, a terrible fire swept through a dormitory at the Kew Cottages, home to almost fifty residents of the 640 people with intellectual disability living on site in 1996. This presentation will examine the cause and course of this disastrous fire and the community reactions and inquiry that followed. It reveals that long term neglect and the rise of economic rationalism, coupled with economic recession and a growing commitment to deinstitutionalisation, created a concoction of forces that underpinned this tragedy and made the Kew Cottages once again a site of trauma.

'It's a lonely world out there': Deinstitutionalisation and the closure of the Kew Cottages

Dr David Henderson, Research Fellow, Living with Disability Research Centre, La Trobe University

On 7 September 1999, three years and five months after the fire ripped through Building 37 at the Kew Cottages, the Victorian Premier, Jeff Kennett vowed to close the Kew Cottages by the end of 2010. When he made the vow, Kennett was two weeks out from an election that he would ultimately loose, though given his commanding lead in the polls at the time, he could hardly have countenanced the idea of such a defeat at the time. By the time Kennet made his announcement, the Victorian government had been committed to a policy of deinstitutionalisation, in one form or another, for almost 20 years. This presentation will explore the process of closure of the Kew Cottages and the redevelopment of the site, which took almost ten years. By exploring the closure of the Kew Cottages, this presentation will touch on some of the key issues and debates around the deinstitutionalisation of people with intellectual disability that were occurring in Victoria and around the world at the time. 

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