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Wolston Park reconciliation

Treatment of mental illness and oversight of that treatment has made significant progress in the last 50 years, but there are many people living today with past experiences of forced treatment that is now either outlawed or can only be used in prescribed circumstances.

The story of the Wolston Park survivors was published in QWeekend on Saturday 11 March 2017 in the article No escape from hell by Matthew Condon.

Government apology

In February 2010, a Queensland Government apology was given to ‘those who as children in the care of the State of Queensland suffered in any way while resident in an adult mental health facility, (acknowledging) that for some, such placements led to an incorrect diagnosis of mental illness, which has had a significant impact on their lives.’

The apology undertook to plan for formal reconciliation processes with those who were harmed in care.

Achieving justice

The Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services, Hon. Cameron Dick MP, responded to the Commissioner’s request to initiate a formal consultation process in 2016. The Minister asked Queensland Health to get a formal reconciliation process underway.

The delay from when this issue was brought to the attention of government over several decades, to a formal apology in 2010, and to formal reconciliation in 2017 is clearly unacceptable. While we cannot undo the past, we must do everything we can to improve their futures.

Reconciliation consultation

In September 2016, following a request from the Mental Health Commissioner the Minister for Health asked Queensland Health to develop a process for consultation.

An Apology fact sheet for Wolston Park survivors was distributed in February 2017.

  • On 16 March 2017, the Minister made a public statement to The Courier-Mail and to the ABC Mornings Program with Steve Austin about the reconciliation process moving forward. Please forward the audio recording to the 37 min:54 secs mark to listen.
  • On 4 April 2017, the Minister for Health announced an Independent person appointed to lead the Wolston reconciliation process, community advocate Betty Taylor.

Art exhibition

Award winning artist Anne Wallace has remembered many of the women survivors who were at the 2010 apology through art, chiefly her Wolston Park and Forgotten/Now remembered Australians portrait series and major work Passing the River at Woogaroo Reach. Read Anne’s statement about this artwork.

Anne’s art was featured in an artistic event Today I Am by Access Arts and Open Minds in partnership with the Queensland Mental Health Commission to honour the Wolston Park survivors at QPAC on 15 June 2017. The Mental Health Commissioner welcomed guests and set the scene in a brief speech.

The event also featured the poetry of Barbara Lane and statements from other survivors. One survivor was unable to attend in person, but submitted a statement for display.

The Minister for Health acknowledged the Wolston Park survivors and confirmed his commitment to the reconciliation process in his speech.

Photos from the event will be posted soon.

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