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New push for apology over Willow Court

Posted by on 29/06/2018

MENTAL Health Council Tasmania chief executive Darren Carr says the election of a new government has renewed the campaign for an apology to former patients of the Royal Derwent Hospital and Willow Court.

The institution for the mentally ill and intellectually disabled closed in 2000, after 173 years of operation.

For years mental health and disability advocates have called for a formal apology to former patients they say were abused at the facility.

Former Queensland Senator Margaret Reynolds worked as a teacher on the hospital grounds at 1963, and has claimed to have witnessed abuse and ill-treatment.

She said she hoped the new government would take a “fresh look” at an apology, but there were two major hurdles: fear it would lead to financial compensation, and resistance from former Willow Court staff.

“That’s quite unnecessary because the vast majority of workers at the time were caring, supportive people,” Mrs Reynolds said.

“It’s a matter of criticising the system, and government is responsible for the system, and an apology would be a way of ending this very bad period in Tasmania’s history.”

Mr Carr said an apology was overdue.

“We can’t change history, but shedding a light on it can help inform how we do this now,” Mr Carr said.

A state government spokesman said they would be happy to discuss an apology with those concerned.

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation state secretary Neroli Ellis said she had spoken with members who worked at Willow Court, and they would support an apology.

“They said there was disempowerment of patients, families and nurses, because of the system at the time,” Mrs Ellis said.

“There were no choices, and it was normal practice around the nation.

“But a lot of nurses tried to dedicate their careers to improve conditions, which they eventually did.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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