Wolston Park

Wolston Park survivors

This in one project I will follow beyond my time in the public sector.

In 2016, in my role as Queensland’s Mental Health Commissioner,  I learnt about the people who had been incarcerated in the Wolston Park adult psychiatric hospital from the 1960s up to the 1980s.  They were sent there as children when they were wards of the State.  Despite repeated attempts, and an apology from the State of Queensland in 2010, it was not until September 2016 that the Minister for Health responded to my request for action and agreed to establish a process of consultation and redress.

There are now fewer than 10 survivors.

On 5 June 2017, we arranged an event with Access Arts Qld to raise public awareness of the gross injustice and celebrate the spirit of the survivors. The Minister for Health reinforced the commitment of the government to reconciliation.  Read what he said here.

The process was underway but the surviving women remained impatient.  The Queensland Mental Health Commission website provided update on progress.  Anne Wallace, well known Australian artist has remember them in art.

On 27 July 2017, the Minister provided an update of the redress process which is not moving as fast has the women had hoped.  See page 13 of Hansard – this was also reported in the local press.

The report commissioned by Queensland Health is now in the public domain and in October 2017 redress offers were to the surviving women.  The local media details Rhonda’s story.

While their experiences are not included in the Royal Commission into Child Abuse case studies, some of them did attend private sessions.

The question this leaves for us:  why didn’t any of the public servants who had known about this appalling part of Queensland’s history for many years speak out?

PS: in November 2017 the Royal College of Australian and New Zealand Psychiatrists published a statement of regret on their website.  The challenge will be for the people to whom the apology is directed to know that it has been made.


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