An Aerial shot of the The Park precinct, originally named as the Woogaroo Lunatic Asylum, opened in 1864.
An Aerial shot of the The Park precinct, originally named as the Woogaroo Lunatic Asylum, opened in 1864. Facebook

Centre's dark history still haunts former residents

WHEN the precinct now known as The Park first opened in 1864 it was called the Woogaroo Lunatic Asylum, later named the Goodna Asylum for the Insane, among others.

On 12 January, 1864, seven prison warders and 10 police constables escorted 57 male and 12 female lunatics from Brisbane Gaol to Woogaroo, travelling by river on the steamer Settler.

The 69 patients were taken into a two-storey brick building. Men were accommodated on the first floor and part of the ground floor.

Women occupied a section of the ground floor.

A tall timber fence surrounded the building and timber outbuildings accommodated a kitchen, bathroom and staff areas.

In 1867 the first of many government inquiries into the asylum began but it wasn't until a Royal Commission was established to investigate Woogaroo Asylum in 1877, the continuing problems were taken more seriously.

Those included overcrowding, inappropriate and insufficient accommodation, the need for better cooking facilities and a decent water supply.

>>Security boost at former Asylum for the Insane, trespassers warned

>>OPINION: Confront The Park's horrendous past

At the turn of the century there was major investment and new buildings built after the 1890 floods and the treatment at the centre followed the national view on how best to care for the 'insane'.

For more than a century the facility, which has underwent numerous name changes and building expansions, has been home to countless patients, some of whom claim to have experienced severe abuse.

Among those are the stories of seven women, highlighted in Saturday's Qweekend magazine who are still fighting for compensation from the State Government for the horrors they endured.

Journalist Matthew Condon wrote of former patients who had been abused by guards, some who still can't sleep in a bedroom.

Barbara Smith, now 72, was committed to the asylum in the late 1950s and told of how she was forced to live in a straitjacket, drugged, sexually abused and beaten.

Today, The Park has about 150 beds, employs more than 300 medical staff and offers a diverse range of adult mental health services, including extended inpatient care and rehabilitation, secure and forensic care, mental health research and education.



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