Fr Thomas Dunlea (1894-1970) founded Boys’ Town at Engadine, in 1939. His immediate source of inspiration was the movie about Fr Edward Flanagan (1886-1948) who founded the original Boys’ Town in 1917 at Omaha, Nebraska, USA .
Both Fr Flanagan and Fr Dunlea drew inspiration from St John Bosco (1815-1888), whose work with disadvantaged youth began in Turin, Italy , but has since spread world-wide.
St John Bosco is the Founder of the Salesian Society of Priests and Brothers who, since 1952, have been responsible for the work of Boys’ Town.
Boys’ Town has undergone many changes over time as it has continued to respond to changes in society and the emerging needs of youth and families. In 2010 responding to the community’s need for a residential girl’s unit Boys’ Town Engadine became Dunlea Centre and established the Margaret unit to also help young ladies in need.
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.
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 families some space to bring about necessary changes.