In 2007 through to 2008 the Brisbane Museum curated an exhibition Remembering Goodna about the Wolston Park Mental Hospital. Curator Jo Beasley, interviewed for this podcast series, described the context of that exhibition attended by 60,000 people.
Videos made for the exhibition had disappeared – never to be made public, not to be found in State Archives, not in the State Library or the Brisbane Museum. I have been searching for these videos for months. Now I have them. They need to be on public record and no longer hidden, as Qld’s ‘dirty secret’ as author of Goodna Girls Adele Chynoweth described what happened in that labyrinth of locked wards.
The first one to be released is of former patients, visitors and staff who describe the horrors of being in solitary confinement, of abuse, of chemical restraint, fear, sexual abuse and yes, even witnessing the death of a patient. Wolston Park had its own morgue and three cemeteries. At least 2300 ‘patients’ died in that place only be remembered in death as in life – a number – not even a name. There has never been an inquiry into all the deaths at Wolston Park, a world unto itself, a total institution.
Sue Treweek, admitted to Wolston Park as a state ward aged just 13, tells the story of Jason, a severely handicapped boy aged 12 (circa 1985-86) who was severely beaten by a male warden (drunk at the time), who kicked his teeth out. She also tells the story of Shannon a severely autistic girl, who was twice found by police naked in Ipswich (in the late 1980s), and asks who could have taken that girl out of a locked ward to be sexually abused? Shannon couldn’t talk so couldn’t tell anyone who did this to her.
Another former patient tells the story of a patient with Epilepsy who died in her arms, no-one came to her assistance. She was left dead laying on the bed overnight, till the morgue trolley arrived in the morning.
An inquiry into Wolston Park Mental Hospital is long overdue, according to the former CEO of the Qld Mental Health Commission, Lesley van Schoubroeck, also interviewed for the podcast series Remembering Randall. These videos, alongside the research by Adele Chynoweth, Jo Besley, Mark Finnane, Betty Taylor, confirm my memories of how my brother Randall Scott Carrington, aged 18 was mis-treated at Wolston Park Mental Hospital. How did he end in Pearce House, the most notorious locked ward for the criminally insane in 1978 and 1979, aged 18 for being homosexual?
Trigger warnings, descriptions of severe beatings, violence, isolation, abuse, and a first hand description of the death of a patient in Wolston Park, whose body was left over night on the bed in the dormitory.
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