Eight decades of youth and family support marked by Dunlea Centre

History encased: The younger generation explore the centre's early days with a display of memorabilia at Dunlea Centre's open day for its 80th birthday.
History encased: The younger generation explore the centre's early days with a display of memorabilia at Dunlea Centre's open day for its 80th birthday.

Eight decades of education and improving the prospects of young people's lives was marked at Dunlea Centre, Engadine this month.

The centre celebtrates its 80th anniversary in 2019. At its open day on August 1, more than 300 people were at Australia's Original Boys' Town, which has worked to support those in need.

Dunlea provides a comprehensive service to adolescent boys and girls and their families who are at risk of family breakdown, but who want to restore their relationships. The focus of the program is to engage with families throughout the entire program and strengthen family relationships, improve academic and life skills education, and offer residential care for young people in the age range of 11 -16 years.

The celebration was an opportunity to reminisce on years gone by, and how far the facility had come in helping youth in Sutherland Shire.

Founder, Father Tom Dunlea, began operations at Sutherland in 1939, inspired by an Academy Award winning film, Boystown, starring Mickey Rooney and Spencer Tracey.

After some controversy from the initial establishment, he moved the operations to Engadine. Father Tom also founded other charitable projects including Alcoholics Anonymous and GROW.

Dunlea Centre has supported thousands of children since it opened it doors. Graduates include Ben Lexcen of the America's cup fame and Dr Albert Shun, who in 2009 was rewarded with an OAM for services to paediatric transplantation volunteer work in Papua New Guinea.

At the open day, site tours were a welcome trip down memory lane for the community who remember the early beginnings.

A new $120,000 museum funded by the NSW government will also be unveiled at the centre on August 28.

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