The story of Stewart House goes back to 1929. It begins with two men of vision, Dr Harvey Sutton, then Principal Medical Officer of the Department of Education of NSW, and Mr Arthur McGuinness, President of the NSW Teachers Federation, which had been newly formed a few years previously
Dr Harvey Sutton was distressed by the many cases of malnutrition that he found among school children. This was the beginning of the time known as “the Depression”, and he saw a great need for remedial and preventative measures to overcome the effects of malnutrition.
Dr Sutton approached the Teacher’s Federation. Shortly after the Federation’s formation, a small group of members banded together, calling themselves the Hospital and Relief Society.
They visited hospital patients and assisted with gifts and donations. Like Dr Sutton, the members saw the effect of poverty and malnutrition on the children of the unemployed. Mr McGuiness recommended that a proposal to help these children be put to the Hospital and Relief Society. The Society agreed to manage a small Home, which would offer respite care and remedial nutrition for children in need. The Federation agreed to sponsor the project.
AJ McCoy, president of the Society, highlighted that the house erected at South Curl Curl has accommodation for 108 boys and girls in equal numbers and that these would be selected by the medical officers of the Public Instruction Department. Stewart House would be maintained for the children of the state through the School Teacher’s Hospital and Relief Society.
Land at Carrington Parade opposite South Curl Curl beach was provided by the Crown. Sir Frederick and Lady Stewart (pictured in the photo gallery above) donated funds for the building. Stewart House was opened by the Governor of NSW, Sir Philip Game, in 1931.
The Hospital and Relief Society had the task of raising funds for the day-to-day running expenses. They worked hard in schools and in the community to raise money. It was a time of great financial difficulty. There were debts and shortages, closings and re-openings. When the Society had the money, the Home was open. When they didn’t, the place was temporarily closed.
By 1937, the Hospital and Relief Society could no longer raise sufficient funds. Its charter was returned to the Federation, which then appointed its own committee to manage Stewart House. In 1939 Mr McGuinness became chairman of the managing committee, and Stewart House was registered as a hospital.
Also in 1939 came the turning point in Stewart House’s fortunes. It was realised that it could continue to serve children in need of help only if strong bonds were forged linking the Preventorium with public schools, children and teachers.
Stewart House grew and prospered and gradually increased the scope of its services to children in need. The program now aims to help them deal with their mental and emotional health.
In the 1960s, a school administered by the Department of Education was established within the Stewart House complex. Since then, Stewart House has continued to provide short-term respite care for some 2000 children each year.
Current Scope of Services
Stewart House provides services to children from the public education system in NSW and the ACT who would benefit from a positive intervention to build their self-esteem and personal development. The service is a holistic model of care. Children stay at Stewart House for two weeks. During that time, they undertake a range of activities that include:
- Recreational and social activities to build self-esteem and resilience;
- Learning/school activities for social and emotional skills development;
- Preliminary and ad hoc counselling;
- Health screening (including medical, dental and optometric).
The facility accommodates 84 children at a time. Typically the majority of children are between the ages of eight (8) and 14 years.
Stewart House’s services are based on a wellness and personal development model of care. Services operate as positive interventions to build the self-esteem and personal development of the child. The service practises a holistic model of care.
A key attribute of the Stewart House experience is the unique beachside setting and the long-term support for this initiative from not only the broader public education community within NSW but the local northern Beaches community.
Stewart House Site Description
Stewart House has a long-standing presence on the site (Lot 1496 in DP14040). The original subdivision is dated 19 November 1925. Occupation of the site commenced in 1931.
In December 2008, The NSW Governor made orders to dissolve The Stewart House Preventorium, Curl Curl, as a statutory health corporation, to transfer the assets, rights and liabilities of that statutory health corporation to Stewart House (ACN 127 072 100) and to amend the Health Services Act 1997 accordingly to provide that Stewart House is an affiliated health organisation in respect of child health screening carried on at Stewart House Preventorium, Curl Curl.
The Stewart House Company has also acquired or has governance over adjacent sites, Lots 33, 34 and 35 bringing the total land holding to approximately 10,500m2. However, several easements affect the site. The site extends from the beachside at Carrington Parade some 167 m west to Batho Street, rising over 10m in several steep steps. The site is approximately 67m wide.
Development of the site involves:
- Original buildings which provide 60% of the children’s accommodation at the Carrington Parade frontage.
- The Ellen Street site houses a school for specific purposes and health facilities capable of general, optometric, audiometric and dental screening. At the Batho Street frontage, the administrative and support function and the remainder of the accommodation are housed in a 1970s building that presents a number of functional challenges. The original buildings have some local heritage value, while the 1970s development has an institutionalised character.
- The Stewart House site is zoned for the existing special use, and restrictions on title involve the original ‘grant of sand’ being only used to serve the objects of Stewart House. Any development of the site, as a result of the site’s complexities, would best be referred to Northern Beaches Council who have positive and supportive regard for Stewart House and its valuable community function.
The following service delivery principles control all current and future services provided from Stewart House:
- The service has a focus on providing a supportive and home-like environment for the child at all times.
- The services provided to children are focused on holistic programs which assist the child in building self-esteem and capabilities that will promote resilience and social skills development that support their normal development to adulthood.
- All the average daily living skills such as hygiene, eating healthy, participating in exercise and educational activities are included in the two-week program.
- Services and the environment will be maintained to ensure the child’s safety, security, and well-being at all times.
- Staff responsible for supervisory, educational and health components of the program will collaborate in an ongoing manner to ensure an integrated approach to service provision.
Current Structure and Governance
A company limited by guarantee, Stewart House is governed by a board of directors, with delegated authority to a Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director and several other sub-committees. Read more on our governance here.
Previous donors who gave generously
|Anderson E. F.||Laws J.|
|Astley M.||Lowe J.|
|Baarshers M||McNutt A.|
|Barnes D.||Middleton A.|
|Beavis I.||Mitchell B.|
|Bradford G. J.||Morgan T. C.|
|Bronson I. M.||Reeve M.|
|Bubacz B. M.||Reidy R.B.|
|Dowling K.||Robinson N. G.|
|Dugdale J.||Rollo C. I.|
|Elliott C. A.||Shackley K.|
|Ellis-Chester M.||Skevington L.|
|Ewen J.||Small W. P.|
|Fernandes C.||Symons E. C.|
|Guillier M.||Thomas C.|
|Guthrie E.||Ward M.|
|Inwood I.||Weatherall C. S.|
|Inwood Q.||Whittle A.|
|Jones O. R.||Yabsley J.|
|Lasker S.||Yabsley K.|