Thursday, April 2, 2015


Excerpt from "THE CLOCK OF TIME" by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 150-153)

"We soon decided we would need to obtain a permanent home for some of the older intellectually handicapped children, and an areas was acquired for a farm village which was named "Hawkevale" after the Premier the Hon. A.R.G.Hawke.

Two cottage homes were built on this block and, at the suggestion of parents, they were named after Mrs Newton and myself, as the two people who had been most active in putting the SLCG on the map.

The boys became very proud of their cottages, and a little rivalry arose as to whether the trees round one cottage grew better than those round the other.
After some years the first farm village was taken over for extensions to the Perth Airport and another has been acquired and developed.  it is still called "Hawkevale" and our two cottages are still so named.  There are now four cottages - two for girls and two for boys.
It was nice to be invited to the opening ceremony performed by Sir Paul Hasluck and I was given the seat of honour next to Lady Hasluck (now Dame Alexandra Hasluck) at the top table.  The Hon. A.R.G. Hawke was an honoured guest, and the name of the farm village will always remind us of the Premier who gave us our first official support and encouragement.  Unfortunately Mrs Newton was ill at the time of the opening and could not attend.  (I am not a Labor supporter but have always considered that Mr Hawke was one of the best Premiers W.A. ever had.  He was, of course, related to Bob Hawke who was at one time Prime Minister of Australia; an uncle I think).

This is Sir Paul Hasluck:

The latest idea is to encourage a number of young people, who have the ability, to live independently, under supervision, in small groups.  The SLCG is still developing and expanding, while the knowledge of mental retardation today is beyond anything we had anticipated in the early days. SLCG is now one of the largest welfare bodies in this State, and caters for a very large number of various types of intellectually handicapped people.

I resigned from the position of President in 1954 and was made an Hon. Life Member.  I carried on the Fun Club for its first nine years.  As a testimonial I have a bound copy of the early newsletters and an Honorary Life Certificate.  I have also been honoured as Vice-Patron of the SLCG.

Photographs of the original officers were taken some time ago and were to be hung in SLCG Headquarters.  I have not seen mine and I understand none of them have been hung to date. (I wonder if they ever did get hung??)

I hunted around and was thrilled to find two pictures relating to Hawkevale Village in 1957.  You can see them above.


  1. Hari OM
    Marvellous work! The concept of independent living really being somewhat ahead of its time. Lovely to see the piccies too. YAM xx

    1. Thanks Yam. I feel they were perhaps rather ahead of their time but it all worked out wonderfully well for those youngsters who had been so badly misunderstood. Young ones who were not ill but just different.
      I was thrilled to find the pics too. Although it says Sydney on top these actually were of Hawkvale in W.A.

  2. How nice that the value of your mama's work was recognised so early. She really was a trail blazer in many ways.

    1. She and Mrs Newton deserved to be recognised for the wonderful work they did to get the SLCG up and going.
      Later another building was named Ruston House but that was after mum's death. Perhaps I will tell about that after I finish mum's book.

  3. Hi Mimsie, your Mom was an amazing lady for sure.

    1. Yes Denise she was and there are more stories yet to be told of her achievements.
      Thanks for paying a visit. Much appreciated.

  4. Your mum did so much wonderful work in her lifetime.
    Helping these children learn to live independently is often very hard work. It's what my sister learned in her years in such a home.

  5. After unselfishly bringing me up she then went on to work so hard for the community at large.
    I am hoping your sister benefited from her stay in one of the independent living homes.
    I do so appreciate you following mum's story as you have.

  6. What is astonishing is how much your mum's work changed the deep-seated attitudes towards people with intellectually handicaps. Changing community attitudes from being ashamed or frightened of people with intellectual disabilities to appreciating the children and young adult as people with potential to grow and become independent is a huge achievement. You have every right to be very proud of your mum and her forward thinking.