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Tasmania - Organisation

State Psychological Clinic (1922 - 1964)

Government Agency

The State Psychological Clinic, the first in Australia, was set up under the Mental Deficiency Act 1920 to diagnose and classify children with what is now known as intellectual disability, research it, and instruct teachers. The Clinic's statutory existence ended in December 1964 following the passage of the Mental Health Act 1963 but since its staff were dispersed through the new Division of Psychiatric Services, its influence continued.


The State Psychological Clinic carried out psychological assessments of children who were about to be adopted.

Children diagnosed with an intellectual disability often did not have one. Challenging behaviour, inadequately managed physical disabilities such as deafness, educational disadvantage, an institutional upbringing, and poverty, neglect or abuse could all lead to this diagnosis.

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Journal Articles

  • Rodwell, Grant, ''If the feeble-minded are to be preserved': special education and eugenics in Tasmania, 1900-1930', Issues in educational research, vol. 8, no. 2, 1998, pp. 131-156. Also available at Details


  • 'The mental deficiency bill, 1920:' report of Select Committee with minutes of proceedings and evidence, House of Assembly, 1920. Details

Prepared by: Caroline Evans