Wolston Park survivors seek audience with Premier
30th August 2012
Updated 5th September 2012
As children and wards of the state, they were beaten, sexually assaulted, made to endure electric shock treatments and drugged.
Now as adults, the survivors of Wacol's Wolston Park Hospital have called on Premier Campbell Newman or a member of his cabinet to meet with them to discuss compensation and formal recognition.
Children who were admitted into Queensland adult psychiatric asylums while minors between the 1950s and 1980s have called for a separate inquiry into their experiences.
Those who were placed in what was most commonly known as Wolston Park Hospital have been described as suffering some of the worst cases of child abuse in the state's history.
heir experiences were not covered by the previous Queensland inquiry into child abuse, headed by Leneen Forde.
The surviving women, thought to number no more than 10, have received no government compensation or formal acknowledgement of their experiences within the Wacol institution's walls, outside of a blanket apology to all children placed in adult asylums from the Bligh government in 2010.
After Mr Newman announced in Parliament last week he would apologise to people affected by past forced adoptions as he was “honoured to lead a government that is prepared to do the right thing acknowledging a practice of the past that should never have occurred”, the women said they held hope.
However, they said their own requests for a meeting have been ignored.
Barbara Smith said she was placed in Wolston Park at age 16 in 1961 and has suffered “horrendous” health problems as an adult.
She said despite counselling and treatment she was still “full of anger inside” at the treatment she experienced during her nearly two years in Wolston Park and successive Queensland governments had ignored the issue.
“I don't think people quite realised what happened to young girls in that place,” she said.
“I'm 67, I've got chronic renal disease, and I think somehow the drugs they injected into us have something to do what has happened to us in later life.
“Picture a young girl with a strait jacket on being battered from pillar to post and I saw some of the most horrific sights, young girls having electric shock treatment...
“If we could be able to speak to him (Mr Newman) and tell him some of the things that happened, show the proof that we have, the drugs that were fed to us ... I'm not the only woman who is saying it, it is numerous of us saying the same thing.
“I think he is obliged to see us. Where is the fairness?”
Christine Waite said her sister, Pamela Buss, was institutionalised in Wolston Park as a 13-year-old in 1965 “for behaviour problems and adolescent rebellion”.
Mrs Waite said she speaks on behalf of her sister as Mrs Buss became too stressed by the memories.
Mrs Waite said her older sister was subjected to between 10 and 12 electric shock treatments as a 13-year-old, as well as regular beatings and other forms of abuse, and believes Mrs Buss and the other children inside Wolston Park were used as medical “guinea pigs”.
She said the state government needed to admit what happened inside Wolston Park and open a dialogue about its past so the state could move into the future.
“And I believe the government should compensate these people,” Mrs Waite said.
“By not meeting us, not acknowledging it, I believe it is just more torture, they are slapping us in the face.”
A spokeswoman for Mr Newman referenced the 2010 state government formal apology to children who suffered in any way while residing in adult mental health facilities.
But she did not address the subject of a member of the government meeting with the women.
“It's concerning to hear of the experiences young people suffered in these facilities and minister [Tracy] Davis have previously encourage those who experienced such abuse to seek legal advice about compensation through the normal legal process, particularly as they were ineligible under the [Forde Inquiry] Redress Scheme,” she said.