Contact Person Nick Jarvis

Small Excerpt from- Forgotten Australians: A report on Australians who experienced institutional or out-of-home care as children


4.89 A number of submissions reported people being placed in mental homes for what was apparently a form of punishment for misbehaviour such as running away, refusing to work or perform chores or arguing with Sisters or staff. The use of drugs to pacify children for what may now be considered high spirited or adolescent behaviour was also common and is referred to in the previous section. The use of such institutions for adolescent children is unjustifiable and the impact that it had upon them incalculable.

At the age of 12, I was taken to the Lachlan Park Asylum…

I used to look after the little kids in this place. I’ll never forget the ones with encephalitis – there were about 6 or 7 of them – with their swollen heads just lying in their cots waiting to die. There were also 5 girls in there who were just vegetables, 3 were sisters…Once I remember the nurses putting hot water bottles on them without covers on them and they got bad burns. There were also 25 little Downs Syndrome children who would be taken out of their beds each morning and strapped onto potty chairs where they stayed all day until they were bathed in the afternoon and put back to bed. They weren’t allowed to walk or run around…

As the children’s ward was not locked, I decided to escape one day, but I didn’t know how to get out. I remember it being freezing cold and the nurses found me before I could get out. They took me back to the children’s ward and gave me a tablet, which I spat out. Later they came back and told me to get dressed, and they then took me to another ward where I could hear lots of screaming. This was where they kept the ‘real crazies’. They put me in a cell with a small peephole in the door. I was so scared I couldn’t sleep. (Sub 182)