Time for Parliament to Apologise to Former Willow Court Royal Derwent Patients
Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens Health and Human Services spokesperson
Tuesday, 28 October 2014
THE Tasmanian Greens today tabled a Notice of Motion that will allow Parliament to take a first formal step towards apologising to Tasmanians who suffered as a result of policies of governments past in the notorious Willow Court at New Norfolk, Greens’ Health and Human Services spokesperson, Cassy O’Connor MP, said today.
“It is now almost 14 years since Willow Court and the Royal Derwent hospital were closed, marking the beginning of a more compassionate, rights-based approach to supporting Tasmanians living with a disability or suffering mental ill health,” Ms O’Connor said.
“We now have a rights-based Disability Services Act 2011 in place and the profoundly transformative National Disability Insurance Scheme, as well as a more inclusive, compassionate response to mental ill health in our community.”
“We have come a long way as a community, it’s now time to provide a measure of closure to Tasmanians who were effectively incarcerated in the New Norfolk institution, as well as to their families who faced a terrible choice and the staff who must also live with the memories of working in that sad place.”
“As a state, we need to acknowledge the wrongs of the past and government policies that isolated people living with disability and psychiatric or psychological illness in an institution such as Willow Court Royal Derwent.”
“The pain suffered in those times still endures. There have been repeated calls for a formal apology as a means of acknowledging the wrongs of the past and committing to ensuring such institutionalised suffering never happens again.”
“It is the role of Parliament to acknowledge the wrongs of the past and to seek to put them right. In 1997, the Parliament formally apologised to the Stolen Generations for their loss of identity, of family and belonging at the hands of the State.”
“In the last term of government, we collectively and solemnly apologised to the Victims of Past Forced Adoptions for the emotional anguish caused by the State and charitable or religious institutions who took babies from their mothers on the basis of the morality of the day.”
“In this term, Parliament should apologise on behalf of the people of Tasmania to those Tasmanians and their families who were told the best and only option for their disabled or mentally unwell loved ones was institutionalisation at the notorious Willow Court and Royal Derwent hospital.”
“We will have the debate on the Greens’ Motion and hopefully move on together, in the spirit of tripartisanship to formally acknowledge the pain caused by past practices and apologise to those Tasmanians who suffered at Willow Court Royal Derwent,” Ms O’Connor said.
(published without alteration)