• Legislation

Lunacy Act of 1869, Queensland


The Lunacy Act of 1869 provided for the establishment of ‘reception houses’, to which magistrates could commit ‘disturbed’ patients for one month instead of admitting them to the Woogaroo Lunatic Asylum. Reception houses were subsequently opened in Brisbane, Townsville, Rockhampton and Maryborough. This Act was repealed with the introduction of the Insanity Act of 1884.

[Taken from Woogaroo Lunatic Asylum (1878-1910), Ipswich library online exhibition, University of Queensland]

The Lunacy Act of 1869, stated that a person had to be committed by a medical practitioner and two Justices of the Peace for a period of no longer than one month at a lunatic reception house. After this period, the person in question was brought before two Justices and if judged to be not in a fit state to be at liberty by two medical practitioners, then they would be committed to the Woogaroo Lunatic Asylum.

On their release, they would have to pay back the cost of their care and if this was refused, then a warrant of distress would be issued. It also stated that any person employed at the Asylum who ill treated or neglected a lunatic would be prosecuted and on conviction have to pay between two and twenty pounds.


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