Photograph - Irena Higgins
From the Collection of Kew Historical Society Inc Level 1, Kew Court House 188 High Street Kew Victoria
- Black and white photograph of Irena Higgins, donated by her daughter as part of the Irena Higgins Collection.
- irena higgins, kew mental hospital - willsmere, children's cottages (kew)
- Born in Polish Ukraine in 1914, Irena Higgins completed her degree in social work at the University of Lwow. Migrating to Australia in 1939, she lived in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney before moving with her family to Melbourne in 1945. She initially worked at the Victorian Society for Crippled Children, then in 1951, applied for a mental health position at the Kew Cottages. Her appointment also involved working as a social worker at Willsmere. In these pioneering roles, she was the first social worker employed by the Victorian Mental Health Authority to work with children with an intellectual disability. She remained at Kew for seventeen years, becoming Senior Social Worker with a staff of three other social workers, a secretary and a number of aides. Two of Irena’s significant innovations at Kew were the establishment of a Parents’ Association, and the development of a network of volunteers trained to work with families in the community. Irena Higgins remained committed to social reform following her retirement, working actively to establish the first emergency housing in Kew. In 2016, Irena’s daughter Barbara Renowden donated a number of her papers to the Kew Historical Society. These documents constitute the Irena Higgins Collection.
- 3 Jan 2019 at 9:59PM