The Mental Health Act 1962 (046 of 1962 (11 Eliz. II No. 46)) was amended twice before it came into force on 1 July 1966. It repealed the Lunacy Act 1903 and related Acts less relevant to children in out of home care. Intellectual disability was not distinguished from mental 'disorder' in the Act, which began a transition from custodial care to active, early treatment. The Act (s.19) made financial provision for residential care, education and training and other services and facilities that could be used by people with intellectual disabilities. This Act was repealed by the Mental Health Act 1996 (068 of 1996).
The Mental Health Act 1962 was debated in a politicised climate with a grossly over-crowded Claremont Mental Hospital receiving much publicity. On the eve of the State election, the Inspector General resigned, stating his authority was being undermined by the Ministerial Committee on Mental Health whom he could not persuade to introduce day hospitals and community-based therapeutic services.
In August 1963, Dr Archie S Ellis was appointed Director of Mental Health Services with direct access to the Minister for Health. Dr Ellis has written about the extensive consultation that went into drafting the Mental Health Act 1962 in its final form - including assistance from the medical and legal professions, voluntary organisations and individuals.
Children with intellectual disabilities continued to be placed with 'old and mentally afflicted' adults.
Sources used to compile this entry: Ellis, A.S., Eloquent Testimony : the Story of the Mental Health Services in Western Australia, 1830-1975, University of Western Australia Press, Nedlands, Western Australia, 1984. p.129.; Gillgren, Christina, 'Once a Defective, always a Defective: Public Sector Residential Care 1900-1965', in Errol Cocks (ed.), Under blue skies : the social construction of intellectual disability in Western Australia, Centre for Disability Research and Development, Faculty of Health and Human Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Perth, 1996, pp. 53-91. p.80, 82-83..
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 22 April 2013, Last modified: 21 October 2021