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Tasmania - Organisation

Lachlan Park Hospital (1937 - 1968)

  • Lachlan Park Hospital, New Norfolk, identification stamp

    Lachlan Park Hospital, New Norfolk, identification stamp, 1951 - 1965, courtesy of Tasmanian Images: Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office.
    Details

From
1937
To
1968
Categories
Government-run, Home and Hospital

Lachlan Park Hospital, run by the government, replaced the Mental Diseases Hospital in 1937. It was in New Norfolk. Lachlan Park was a secure mental asylum which, in addition to adults, held children and adolescents, including wards of State. In 1968, it became part of the Royal Derwent Hospital.

Details

Lachlan Park was on the western side of the Lachlan River in New Norfolk surrounded by a high wall and locked gates with security guards.

In 1940, Bronte House became the Boys' Cottage and the former Boys' Cottage, L Ward, became M Ward for women and girls. Children housed in these wards were adolescents. Lachlan Park also had a children's ward known as Alcheringa or Myrtle Ward. In 1941, instead of abandoning the Gentleman's Cottage, built in 1859, as planned, it became an institution for men and boys with intellectual disabilities. St John's Park, where they lived, was overcrowded. The Cottage was demolished in 1964.

Most parents placed their children at Lachlan Park on the advice of doctors because of an intellectual or severe physical disability. These conditions carried a social stigma and parents who attempted to raise the children themselves received no government or community support. Other children were wards of state or had been under the guardianship of the Mental Deficiency Board. The Hospital assumed guardianship of them once they were transferred.

In a submission to the Senate Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care, a former ward of state described her time at Lachlan Park during the 1950s. The Sisters at the Magdalen Home had arranged her transferral to the Children's Ward there because they found her behaviour difficult to manage. She helped look after the younger children on the ward. In her submission, she recalled the distressing lack of care and abuse that the children received. When the young woman tried to escape, after attempts to sedate her, she was transferred to another ward where she was put in a cell with a 'small peephole' in the door.

Margaret Reynolds, who was a teacher before she became a senator, taught at Lachlan Park Special School, located in the grounds of Lachlan Park, in 1963. In her autobiography, she writes that the asylum was a 'dumping ground'. Reynolds remembers her first visit to the Children's Ward. She too describes the disturbing situation of the children and the lack of any meaningful stimulation. Several children with paralysis or an intellectual disability were tied to their beds.

Later Reynolds discovered that there were other children in the asylum. Girls over 10 were scattered throughout the adult wards. Even J Ward, a maximum security ward for disabled adult women, occasionally held girls with 'behaviour problems'. These wards lacked basic hygiene and the children witnessed the upsetting behaviour of some of the adult patients.

About 40 boys lived in a separate secure ward close to the school. Reynolds often heard the sound of boys being beaten. They had few activities to engage them. Some of them did not have intellectual disabilities but were juvenile offenders, placed at Lachlan Park because it was the only secure unit available, apart from Risdon Prison.

Plans to close Lachlan Park go back to 1944 when Dr Catarinich, Victoria's Director of Mental Health, condemned the buildings as too crowded, out-of-date, unhygienic, and structurally unsound. He suggested that it be replaced with a new hospital. In 1949, following a Parliamentary Standing Committee recommendation, the government decided to build a new mental hospital on the eastern side of the Lachlan River. It opened in 1968 as the Royal Derwent Hospital. However, Lachlan Park was not abandoned. Instead as part of the new hospital, it was used exclusively for people with intellectual disabilities.

The Ombudsman received 10 claims in the lead up to the Review of claims of abuse from adults in state care as children: Final Report - Phase 2 of 2006.

Location

1937 - 1968
Location - Lachlan Park was on Humprhey Street, New Norfolk. Location: New Norfolk

Timeline

 1827 - 1859 Lunatic Asylum, New Norfolk
       1859 - 1915 Hospital for the Insane, New Norfolk
             1915 - 1937 Mental Diseases Hospital, New Norfolk
                   1937 - 1968 Lachlan Park Hospital
                         1968 - 2000 Royal Derwent Hospital

Related Glossary Terms

Related Legislation

  • Disability Services Act (2011 - )

    The Disability Services Act was intended to prevent the future use of institutions such as Lachlan Park for the care of people with disabilities.

Related Organisations

Publications

Books

  • Alexander, Alison, From tiny acorns mighty oaks grow: the history of Oaks Tasmania, Oak Tasmania, Glenorchy, Tasmania, 96 pp. Details
  • Gowlland, RW, Troubled asylum: the history of the Invalid Barracks, New Norfolk Colonial Hospital, New Norfolk Madhouse, New Norfolk Her Majesty's Lunatic Asylum, New Norfolk Mental Diseases Hospital, New Norfolk Lachlan Park, New Norfolk Royal Derwent Hospital, Self publication, New Norfolk, 1996. Details
  • Reynolds. Margaret, Living Politics, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, Qld, 2007, 237 pp. Details

Reports

  • Willow Court Asylum Complex: Tasmanian Heritage Entry, Heritage Tasmania, Hobart, 2008. Details
  • Johnston, Paul, Strating, R, Morris, Miranda, and Small, T, Willow Court, Conservation Management Plan, Stage D, Alonnah/A Ward and Industrial Therapy, October 2006. Details
  • Ombudsman Tasmania, Review of claims of abuse from adults in state care as children - Final Report - Phase 2, June 2006. Details
  • Reynolds, Margaret and Hols, Monica, Remember the children: stories about the lives of young people in Tasmania's last mental institution, 1950-2000, National Disability Services, Hobart, December 2011, 15 pp. Details

Online Resources

Photos

Lachlan Park Hospital, New Norfolk, identification stamp
Title
Lachlan Park Hospital, New Norfolk, identification stamp
Type
Image
Date
1951 - 1965
Source
Tasmanian Images: Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office

Details

Sources used to compile this entry: 'Submission number 182', in Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care: Submissions received by the committee as at 17/3/05, Parliament of Australia Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs, Commonwealth of Australia, 2004, http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/Completed_inquiries/2004-07/inst_care/submissions/sublist; Willow Court Asylum Complex: Tasmanian Heritage Entry, Heritage Tasmania, Hobart, 2008; Alexander, Alison, From tiny acorns mighty oaks grow: the history of Oaks Tasmania, Oak Tasmania, Glenorchy, Tasmania, 96 pp; Johnston, Paul, Strating, R, Morris, Miranda, and Small, T, Willow Court, Conservation Management Plan, Stage D, Alonnah/A Ward and Industrial Therapy, October 2006; Ombudsman Tasmania, Review of claims of abuse from adults in state care as children - Final Report - Phase 2, June 2006; Reynolds. Margaret, Living Politics, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, Qld, 2007, 237 pp; 'Willow Court Asylum Precinct, Humphrey St, New Norfolk, TAS, Australia', in Register of the National Estate (Non-statutory archive), Department of the Environment, Australian Government, http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/ahdb/search.pl?mode=place_detail;place_id=102728.

Prepared by: Caroline Evans