80-year history of Boys' Town Engadine to be featured in new museum

A new museum will tell the story of Boys' Town Engadine and its transition into a modern facility that also caters for adolescent girls.

A state government grant of $120,000, announced by Heathcote MP Lee Evans, will help redevelop the existing museum at Dunlea Centre, as it was renamed nine years ago.

This will enable more talks, historical tours, presentations to the public and other events.

Executive director of the Dunlea Centre, Paul Mastronardi, said the vision of Father Thomas (Tom) Dunlea, who founded the boys' home 80 years ago, was "as relevant today as ever".

The Irish born Parish Priest of St Patrick's Catholic Church, Sutherland, established Boys' Town in 1939 when Engadine was a sparsely populated, largely bushland area.

Fr Dunlea was inspired by the success of the first Boys' Town, which was established in the US in 1917 by Fr Edward Flanagan.

Fr Dunlea later become Parish Priest of Hurstville and died in 1970.

The Engadine centre he founded was the first Boys' Town in Australia.

In 2010, responding to community needs, it became the Dunlea Centre, with a separate residential unit for girls.

"Today, as Dunlea Centre, it is a comprehensive service to adolescent children and their families who are at risk of family breakdown, but who want to restore their relationships," the website says.

"Dunlea Centre provides family and individual therapy, academic and life skills education, and residential care for both boys and girls.

"Family preservation and restoration is the focus of the Dunlea Centre's program.

"Dunlea Centre is also an out of home care service and students live-in from Monday to Friday, thus allowing the children and their family some space to bring about necessary changes.

"Dunlea Centre works in partnership with families to help bring about this change.

"The philosophy of Dunlea Centre is based on the belief that every person is unique and specially valued in the eyes of God."