Rabbit Island Hospital for the Insane was a government run institution established in 1910 and the first male patients were transferred there on 24 March 1911, "initially in order to provide temporary residences for male patients of the 'chronic' class" (State Records Authority of New South Wales). The patients admitted to Rabbit Island came from Parramatta Hospital for the Insane and Newcastle Asylum for Imbeciles and Idiots. In around 1917 it became known as the Rabbit Island Mental Hospital.
Dr Milson Creed, a doctor specialising in the treatment of alcoholism, selected Rabbit and Mud Island on behalf of the NSW Government in 1901, as places that could be used to securely detain patients without needing bars or walls.
Construction of the first of two intended asylums, for women on Rabbit Island, began in 1902. It was intended that future male patients would construct their own asylum buildings, on Milson Island, but changes of State Government meant the site was abandoned in 1907.
The first patients were transferred to the Rabbit Island Hospital for the Insane on 24 March 1911, largely from the Wyatt Street Asylum in Newcastle but also from the Parramatta Hospital for the Insane (Cumberland Hospital). One of their first tasks was to themselves construct their facilities. One of the attendants, quoted in Laila Ellmoos' Our Island Home, said:
concrete verandah floors, paths, airing courts, lawns and flower gardens all had to be picked out of solid earth and stone.
1910 - 1917? Rabbit Island Hospital for the Insane
1917? - 1936 Rabbit Island Mental Hospital
1936 - 1973 Peat and Milson Islands Mental Hospital
1973 - 1989 Peat Island Hospital
1989 - 2010 Peat Island Centre
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Peat Island Centre', in State Records Authority of New South Wales website, State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority of NSW 2016, https://www.records.nsw.gov.au/agency/6426; Naomi Parry and Liam Hogan, 'Peat Island (c. 1904 - 2010)', published 1 July 2014 on the Find & Connect web resource (this version of the web page is no longer available online, however a PDF version is held in the Find & Connect Project project (FACP) files at the University of Melbourne eScholarship Research Centre).
Prepared by: Rachel Tropea
Created: 13 November 2014, Last modified: 19 March 2015