Women began living on Peat Island on respite in 1976, and permanently from 1978 onwards. Laila Ellmoos notes that in this era female residents were placed on contraceptives or had their tubes tied to prevent pregnancies.
In the 1970s a number of homes on the mainland began to be converted for use as cottages, for patients who needed minimal supervision. Some houses were also rented in Gosford and surrounding centres. Later in the 1980s, the Health Department acquired houses in Kincumber, Green Point and Saratoga to re-house residents of Peat Island.
Legal and institutional reform followed. The Health Commission took over psychiatric services at the centre in 1973. In 1978, changes to the law recognised the distinction, for the first time, between mental illness and intellectual disability. A 1983 NSW Government report, the Richmond Report, recommended that community care take the place of institutional care, and called for the closure of Peat Island Hospital.
A community campaign to save Peat Island for its residents was organised, led by the families of residents, who emphasised that by this time it was more of a large group home than an institution. In the 1987 State Election, Opposition Leader Peter Collins made a promise to keep it open, but as he did not win the election, this did not happen.
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02 June 2023
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/nsw/NE01660
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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