Ballarat Hospital for the Insane
|Ballarat Hospital for the Insane|
|Building Style||Pavilion Plan|
The institution at Ballarat was first proclaimed a Public Asylum under the provisions of the Lunacy Statute 1867 in the Government Gazette of August 1877. Its first patients were transferred from Yarra Bend Asylum to ease the crowded conditions there. Ballarat was to cater for the "imbecile and idiot" class of patient rather than patients suffering from acute insanity. Both male and female patients were in residence at Ballarat until 1878 when the buildings were handed back to the Department of Industrial and Reformatory Schools. All patients were transferred to the new Asylum at Sunbury which the Hospitals for the Insane Branch had just recently acquired from the Department of Industrial and Reformatory Schools.
Ballarat was occupied by the Hospitals for the Insane Branch again in March 1893. Its proclamation as an Asylum was published in the Government Gazette on 17 March 1893.
Since its establishment the title of the institution at Ballarat has been altered several times to reflect both the community's changing attitude towards mental illness and the Victorian Government's approach to the treatment of mentally disturbed persons. Despite the changes in designation the function and the structure of the agency has not altered significantly, therefore the institution has been registered as one continuous agency. From 1877 to 1878, and 1893 to 1905 the institution at Ballarat was known as an Asylum. This title emphasised its function as a place of detention rather than a hospital which provided treatment for mentally ill people. The Lunacy Act 1903 changed the title of all "asylums" to "hospitals for the insane". This Act came into operation in March 1905. The Mental Hygiene Act 1933 (No.4157) altered the title to "mental hospitals".
An asylum/hospital for the insane was any public building proclaimed by the Governor-in-Council and published in the Government Gazette as a place for the reception of lunatics. An asylum could also provide wards for the temporary reception of patients as well as long term patients. Until the Mental Health Act 1959 came into operation in 1962, these "short term" wards were known as "receiving houses". Ballarat opened a Receiving House Branch in Dana Street in July 1912 (Gazette notice 31 July 1912) and "Novar" Webster Street in October 1954 (Gazette notice 20 October 1954).
The Mental Health Act 1959 (No.6605) designated hospitals providing short term diagnosis and accommodation as "psychiatric hospitals". Any institution could have a section designated as a mental hospital for long-term or indefinite hospitalisation and a section designated as a psychiatric hospital for short-term diagnosis and treatment of acute psychiatric illness. Any such designations of particular wards are published in the Government Gazette.
Patients could not be retained in an Asylum without a warrant requesting their admission. Prior to 1867 the warrant was signed by the Governor. After this date the Chief Secretary was responsible for this function. From 1934 the Director of Mental Hygiene (VA 2865) and from 1952 the Chief Medical Officer of the Mental Hygiene Branch were successively responsible for admission of patients. The Lunacy Act 1914 made provision for the admission of patients on a voluntary basis, i.e. on patient's own request for a specified period of time.