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Habilitating the Retarded: Why sheltered workshops for 'mentally retarded' Australians became 'terminal', 1945-1970. AHA, 10th July 2012
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Habilitating the Retarded: Why sheltered workshops for 'mentally retarded' Australians became 'terminal', 1945-1970. AHA, 10th July 2012

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The New Disability History, which seeks to trace the changing meanings attached to impairments over time, has alerted us to the contingent and protean nature of disabilities, and exposed the fuzzy ...

The New Disability History, which seeks to trace the changing meanings attached to impairments over time, has alerted us to the contingent and protean nature of disabilities, and exposed the fuzzy boundaries between embodied impairments and culturally constructed disablements. The borderlands of disabilities are often diffuse, and different groups of individuals have moved within or through them over time.

In the decades immediately following the Second World, the group of classifications we now call 'intellectual disabilities' was in a state of flux. Australian parents with 'mentally retarded' youngsters had emerged as a new political force, organising themselves into large, influential voluntary bodies, and driving particularly rapid shifts in both popular and scientific understandings of who constituted the 'mentally retarded' group, and the needs, abilities and potentialities of its constituents.

A key concern of the parent organisations was shifting public perceptions of their children's place in the national community, and ability to participate in it: were their offspring 'retarded citizens', able to play a genuine part in society, or were they something less, requiring sympathetic care and charity, but segregation from the broader world? The answer to these and similar questions dictated the types of facilities voluntary organisations established for their 'children,' and the outcomes expected from them.

Using 'sheltered workshops' as a case study, I trace the genealogies of 'occupation therapy,' 'rehabilitation' and 'special education' in Australia, examine the discourses deployed by voluntary organisations when discussing the establishment of facilities for 'retarded' Australians, and assess the success of these establishments in transforming the position of 'retarded' people in our community.

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    Habilitating the Retarded: Why sheltered workshops for 'mentally retarded' Australians became 'terminal', 1945-1970. AHA, 10th July 2012 Habilitating the Retarded: Why sheltered workshops for 'mentally retarded' Australians became 'terminal', 1945-1970. AHA, 10th July 2012 Presentation Transcript

    • “Habilitating the Retarded”Why sheltered workshops for mentally retarded Australiansbecame terminal, 1945-1970. DAVE EARL | PHD CANDIDATE DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY
    • FACILITIES FOR SUB-NORMAL PEOPLE, 1945 2
    • FACILITIES FOR SUB-NORMAL PEOPLE, 1955 3
    • FACILITIES FOR SUB-NORMAL PEOPLE, 1965 4
    • RUN-DOWN FACILITIESRoy McDonald, “Northfield Hospital, South Australia,” NLA. 5
    • SCANDALS SURROUND ASYLUMS“Our Asylums Still in the Dark Ages,” SMH 15th May, 1949, 6. 6
    • MOTHER’S LOVE VS COLD STATEA Staff Reporter. "Mothers Love V Cold State: Alone in Fight for Her Mongol Child." The Courier-Mail, 13th June 1953, 3. 7
    • THEY ARE CARING FOR SUB-NORMAL CHILDRENA Social Staff Reporter. "They Are Caring for Sub-Normal Children." The Courier-Mail, 1st July 1954, 9. 8
    • ARE YOU A PARENT?SLSA, MRCS Papers, SRG 259/13, Papers Relating to the NSWSCWA, Undated (C.1952) Flyer Entitled "the Sub-Normal Child: Are You a Parent??,". 9
    • BUNBURY OCCUPATION CENTRE, c. 1958 Activ Foundation Archives, Perth. 10
    • OCCUPATIONAL THERAPYSLSA, MRCS Papers, SRG 259/24, Miscellaneous Books & Pamphlets. 11
    • BASKET CASESBasket Weaving, Newcastle Mental Hospital, Newcastle University Cultural Collections, A9012(lv)m. 12
    • WARATAH SUB-NORMAL CHILDREN’S SCHOOL OPENINGOpening of Sub-normal Childrens School at Waratah, by Lord Mayor Alderman FJ Purdue. Hood Collection, SLNSW hood_27559. 13
    • CRAIGBURN FARM, MINDA’S “COLONY”"Institutions Grow with State: First Building on Minda Colony. Governor Lays Foundation Stone." The Advertiser, 1st February 1934, 18. 14
    • HAWKEVALE FARM VILLAGESLSA, MRCS Papers, SRG 259/24, Miscellaneous Books & Pamphlets. 15
    • HAWKEVALE FARM COLONY, 1957Activ Foundation Archives, Perth. 16
    • VETERAN REHABILITATIONHeidelberg Military Hospital, Victoria, 1944, SLV H99.201/1174. 17
    • CIVILIAN REHABILITATIONRehabilitation ward at unidentified hospital, Wolfgang Sievers Photographic Archive, NLA. 18
    • REHABILITATION AND YOUSpastic Centre Archives, c.1956, Flyer from the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Entitled "Rehabilitation and You!". 19
    • AID RETARDED PERSONSARP. Aid for Retarded People. This Could Be Your Son. Promotional flyer in authors possession, c. 1964. 20
    • DAVE EARLdaveearl.net | dear7745@uni.sydney.edu.au DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY | SCHOOL OF PHILISOPICAL AND HISTORICAL ENQUIRY