Author(s): Corinne Manning
Kew Cottages has long been an iconic symbol for many Australians. Opened in 1887 by the Victorian government, it was Australia's first and largest specialised institution for people with intellectual disability. Over its 121-year history, Kew Cottages often struggled to provide a high level of care for its residents. Persistent overcrowding, inadequate funding, and government and public apathy, resulted in many residents enduring lives of hardship and neglect. Bye-Bye Charlie is a rare glimpse into the world of Kew Cottages. Combining oral testimony from a range of people including residents, families, staff, policy makers, and visitors, as well as documentary evidence, it offers a moving account of the path to institutional living, the complex emotions felt by people associated with the institution, and the facility's eventual closure. Most importantly, it celebrates the lives of people who have long been silenced or forgotten, turning them into active participants of their own history making.