INSIDE HELL: A 6-year-old boy who was kept inside Wolston Park Mental Health Centre in the 1960s.
INSIDE HELL: A 6-year-old boy who was kept inside Wolston Park Mental Health Centre in the 1960s. Contributed

'We need an apology' say those abused at Wolston Park

A MAN who was abused in the Wolston Park mental health facility as a child says financial compensation should be accompanied by an apology.

Nine women who were wrongly placed in the Wolston Park adult mental health facility when they were children and did not have a mental illness will be compensated under a Queensland Government Reconciliation Plan.

The man, now in his 50s and who cannot be identified, witnessed and was subject to the same kind of abuse the women were when he was in the asylum as a six-year-old.

The Wacol asylum was home to children who, now adults, share close to six decades of dark secrets and stories of torture, horror and abuse from the 1950s to 1980s.

He said while he encouraged the compensation and considered it 'a positive step in the right direction', he believed those who were rightfully placed in the asylum and also abused should be offered an apology.

"There is now an acknowledgement that they used involuntary enforced administration of drugs and perhaps some other things like restraint as a way of behavioural control mechanisms," he said.

"They were not distinct from mental health treatment mechanisms and they weren't applied as therapy, they were basically used as a form of 'do as we tell you or we'll torture you with these things'.

"That wasn't restricted only to the ladies who have received the compensation. There can be no pretending this was supposedly a mental health treatment for them.

"Apology should also be made to people who were validly admitted as patients but who were also abused whilst there."

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The man said he was also involuntarily drugged and can remember being exposed to the side effects.

"One of the side effects was your tongue would hang out and you would drool, that was a recognised side effect of one of these drugs. That happened to me. I didn't see it being injected into others but I saw the consequences," he said.

"I think it's important people understand these inappropriate things were endemic, it was cultured, it was just the tools that the boys used with the labelling as treatment.

"When things are applied as a behavioural control and behavioural management mechanism, not as a mental health treatment, we've got human rights being violated in much the same way other situations which frankly make things worse because they're traumatising things further.

"It was a totally de-humanising experience and that was more traumatising for me."

The compensation plan comes as community advocate Betty Taylor's Reconciliation Plan report is tabled in the Queensland Parliament.  

A supplementary report prepared by Ms Taylor for the government's consideration contains the personal accounts provided by each of the women of their experiences at Wolston Park and how this affected their later lives. 

As this report identifies the women concerned and contains highly personal and private information, it will not be published.

INSIDE HELL: A 6-year-old boy who was kept inside Wolston Park Mental Health Centre in the 1960s and (inset) him now.
INSIDE HELL: A man who was kept inside Wolston Park Mental Health Centre in the 1960s. Contributed

"I am encouraged by the announcement and also disappointed that it didn't go further," the man said.

"Nevertheless, the attempt should be made, because it is the right thing to do. No more cover-ups, no more pretending it didn't happen.

"It's not the end for what should be done if we were serious about doing the right thing. My suspicion it is the end for what is actually going to be done because I don't believe our governments are really all the serious about these things. Short term political cycles are not compatible with addressing deep-seeded issues like this.

"At that stage you would be looking at apologies for wilful blindness, out of side and out of mind.

"I'll be dead before anything like that happens. I'd be no orphan is respect of that issue."