Hope former patients of Tasmania’s Willow Court psychiatric unit will get parliamentary apology
There are hopes former patients of a notorious Tasmanian psychiatric hospital will receive a parliamentary apology next year.
It has been 15 years since the closure of the Willow Court complex and Royal Derwent Hospital in New Norfolk in the state’s south.
Built in 1827, the complex held thousands of people, including alcoholics, people with disabilities, those suffering from mental health problems, and young unmarried women.
Successive inquiries and reports condemned much of the treatment of patients.
Harrowing stories of patients being over-medicated, subjected to violence, and of poor hygiene standards and overcrowding have long surrounded the former institution.
Former patient and mental health advocate Dannii Lane is leading the call for an apology.
“I was one of the lucky ones; I got out alive. I was only here for 12 months but I was pretty much scarred for life,” she said.
“It is always a very slow process, and we know that the [Stolen Generations], the forced adoptions, and wards of the state apologies all took a very long time.”
Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said the apology was overdue.
“We think it’s well past time there is parliamentary acknowledgement,” she said.
“There was so much suffering here; there were children incarcerated here, people were put in here because they were a bit different.”
A Government spokesman said a formal apology was not likely any time soon.
“We understand there are sensitivities surrounding this issue for many people,” he said.
“While we have indicated we are open to discussion on this matter, there are no immediate plans for an official apology.”