State of Western Australia
The 'Royal Commission appointed to inquire into alleged cases of brutality at the Claremont Mental Hospital' was appointed on 20 March 1950. It found children needed to be better segregated and recommended improvements to record-keeping, medical supervision and staffing.
The Royal Commission was chaired by Mr Justice Adrian H. Curlewis of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. It had been stimulated by articles in the Sunday Times newspaper and was specifically required to 'inquire into and report upon…alleged cases of brutality at the Claremont Mental Hospital, as published by the Sunday Times newspaper in its issues of the 12th and 19th February, 1950…'
The Royal Commissioner found that:
These findings were hotly contested by the Inspector General and in large part were not accepted by the government of the day, who proceeded to prosecute (unsuccessfully) the attendants named in the incidents. The Royal Commission did, however, prompt the government to implement the changes to the Lunacy Act 1903 that the Inspector General had recommended in 1949.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Government Gazette of Western Australia No. 31', in Western Australian Government Gazette Online Archive, State Law Publisher of Western Australia, 24 March 1950, https://www.legislation.wa.gov.au/legislation/prod/gazettestore.nsf/FileURL/gg1950_031.pdf/$FILE/Gg1950_031.pdf; 'Royal Commissioner's full report on Claremont Mental Hospital', Sunday Times, 25 June 1950, pp. 7-9, 19, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59518171; 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. pp.107-110.; 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.76..
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 24 April 2013