- McGowan Government to fund sculpture in Carnarvon to acknowledge travesty of incarceration of Aboriginal people on Lock Hospitals on Bernier and Dorre islands
The McGowan Government will fund a bronze sculpture to acknowledge the centennial anniversary of the last person to be repatriated from the Lock Hospitals, off the coast of Carnarvon.
The bronze sculpture – titled ‘Don’t Look at the Islands’ – is being commissioned by Smith Sculptors and will be installed at the One Mile Jetty, the same point from which Aboriginal detainees were removed from their mainland home and transported to Bernier and Dorre islands, many never to return.
The Lock Hospitals operated from 1908 to 1918 and were an example of medical incarceration, where Aboriginal prisoner patients, said to have the non-specific diagnosis of venereal disease, were forcibly removed from country and transported to the islands to be treated.
It was estimated that more than 200 people died on the islands, with their remains left in unmarked areas.
A Path of Pain commemorative event will be held at Carnarvon’s One Mile Jetty on January 9, 2019 ahead of a commemorative cultural ceremony to mark this significant milestone for the Aboriginal community.
Smith Sculptors have completed other commemorative pieces within the State and region, including the HMAS Sydney memorial in Denham.
The State Government will contribute $140,000 to the sculpture, with the Shire of Carnarvon committing a further $25,000.
As stated by Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan:
“The Lock Hospitals off Carnarvon were an appalling chapter in Western Australia’s history, and their story needs to be told.
“The Path of Pain event and commemorative sculpture acknowledges the injustice experienced by those who were rounded up, placed on the islands and subjected to medical experiments.
“The significant cultural ceremony in January will provide cultural closure for those spirits and their grieving families.
“The recognition of injustice is necessary if we are to move on the path of reconciliation.”