Peat Island Hospital was a government run institution established in 1973. It was previously known as Peat and Milson Islands Mental Hospital. In 1989 it became known as Peat Island Centre.
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.
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: 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: 23 December 2014