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Featured Article Of The Week

Royal Park Psychiatric Hospital


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In 1872, The Former Royal Park Psychiatric Hospital (Hospital for the Insane) was constructed initially between 1906 and 1913 in the pavilion form of hospital design. The architect SE Bindley of the Victorian Public Works Department used the Federation Domestic Queen Anne style. The surviving buildings include the Male and Female Acute Wards (1907-09), Male and Female Convalescent Wards (1907-09), Dining Room/Recreation Hall and Kitchen (1907-09), Female Attendants Block (1907-09), Female Workers Block (1907-09), Male Attendants' Block (1907-09), Male Workers Block (1913), Pathology/Mortuary Block (1909), the Workshop (1909-10), the Paint Store/Morgue (c.1920) and the remaining connecting walkways. The parkland setting of the hospital, the remains of the former airing courts, the rear roadway and significant trees and plantings are important as part of the site's history. The hospital is the earliest example, though significantly altered, of a hospital for the insane as distinct from a lunatic asylum, in Victoria. The alteration of the Lunacy Act in 1911 made possible a further change from Hospital for the Insane to Mental Diseases Hospital, allowing for the housing of (chronic) working patients apart from the acute cases. Working patients worked unpaid on the farm and in the laundry, as well as doing other necessary tasks around the hospital.

The Royal Park Psychiatric Hospital was part of an integrated system of psychiatric treatment introduced under the first Inspector General of the Insane in Victoria, Dr Ernest Jones in the early years of the twentieth century. It was the first psychiatric hospital to be established following the introduction of the Lunacy Act of 1903 and was intended for the treatment of patients with transient and recoverable disorders. The Royal Park Psychiatric Hospital site does not now include the Receiving House building (1905-06) which is located further to the east within Royal Park. The Hospital consisting of Receiving House and Acute Wards was part of a wave of reform which emphasized early diagnosis and swift hospital treatment for mentally ill patients. Click here for more...