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Folder - Children's Cottages Kew IHC 01-01

From the Collection of Kew Historical Society Inc 1 Civic Drive Kew Victoria

Object Registration
children's cottages kew (vic.), kew cottages, social work - mental health, mental health -- reports
Historical information
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 her significant innovations at the Cottages 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, her daughter donated a number of her papers to the Kew Historical Society. These documents are designated as the Irena Higgins Collection.
When Made
Made By
Higgins, Irena (creator)
The professional files of Irena Higgins relating to the Children's Cottages at Kew contain rare, and in a number of instances, unique handwritten or printed material relating to mental health and psychiatric treatment in Victoria in the second half of the Twentieth Century. They complement other major collections held by the Department of Health & Human Services (Victoria) and by the State Archives (PROV). They have particular significance due to their provenance as the personal papers of a significant actor in the development of trained social work in mental health institutions in Victoria.
Last updated
2 Oct 2020 at 12:02PM