Westwood, at Bowral, was a residential education centre for girls over sixteen years old with mild intellectual disabilities that opened in 1965. It was run by the Methodist Department of Christian Citizenship, and commenced operation in April 1965 with an initial intake of nine girls. By 1968 Westwood held up to 90 girls and women. It was transferred to the Uniting Church in 1977 and closed down in 1979.
The aim of Westwood was to prepare each resident for independent living by training them for appropriate employment and in relevant life skills. The institution ran a day programme for girls who lived nearby.
In 1977 the Uniting Church was formed from congregations of the Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational Churches. The Uniting Church took over the management of Westwood and the Heighway House Project. Children who were thought to be capable of independent living or supported independent living were transferred from Westwood to Heighway House. Around 1979 the residential programmes of the Heighway House Project were closed down.
Reverend Harry Herbert, the Executive Director of UnitingCare NSW/ACT, has said that the level of institutionalisation at Westwood was 'shocking', with up to 90 girls and women being housed there by 1968. Gordon Trickett, the head of the Board of Social Responsibility of the Uniting Church, was opposed to the dehumanising institutionalisation of the sick, aged, disabled and incarcerated. He closed Westwood, Tahmoor, Iandra and Heighway House in the late 1970s.
Reverend Herbert says these closures, and the closure of the 'unsuitable model' at St Andrew's Leppington, were 'a necessary course of action', and that, since the Senate Enquiry into the Forgotten Australians he has personality dealt with cases from all these homes, including sexual assault.
Sources used to compile this entry: Herbert, Harry (Rev), Address to Uniting Church Historical Society, UnitingCare NSW/ACT, n.d. ; Thinee, Kristy and Bradford, Tracy, Connecting Kin: Guide to Records, A guide to help people separated from their families search for their records [completed in 1998], New South Wales Department of Community Services, Sydney, New South Wales, 1998, http://nma.gov.au/blogs/inside/files/2011/02/connectkin_guide1.pdf; Trickett, Graeme, 'Great Depression shaped life devoted to social justice: Gordon Trickett 1925-2011', The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 January 2011, http://www.smh.com.au/comment/obituaries/great-depression-shaped-life-devoted-to-social-justice-20110130-1a9kf.html.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 16 March 2011, Last modified: 30 August 2013