Heritage Minister David Templeman and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt used the backdrop of NAIDOC Week to honour one of the most significant winners of the 2020 WA Heritage Awards.
The Lock Hospital Working Group and two of its members – Bob Dorey and Kathleen Musulin – were today presented with five awards they won in the prestigious awards program earlier this year.
In traditional dress and ceremony, Bob Dorey honoured the many Aboriginal men, women and children of the Bernier and Dorre Islands’ Lock Hospitals.
The Lock Hospitals saw the incarceration of hundreds of Aboriginal people forcibly removed from country and transported to the islands for treatment of venereal disease. Over 10 years, it is estimated that more than 200 Aboriginal prisoner patients died on the islands.
The community project was established to protect and share traumatic stories of the lock hospitals and acknowledge the impact of this traumatic chapter on local Aboriginal culture and generational wellbeing.
A memorial statue on the Carnarvon coast, Don’t Look at the Islands, and an interpretive Path of Pain were produced as part of the project to allow for truth-telling and healing for the communities involved.
Winning the lauded Professor David Dolan Judges’ Award, the Lock Hospital Working Group was also recognised for its contribution to heritage conservation as a community-based organisation and for excellence in heritage interpretation.
Bob Dorey and Kathleen Musulin were acknowledged for their leadership and commitment to the project as joint winners of the Voluntary Individual Contribution category.
Winners of the 2020 WA Heritage Awards were announced in June. Framed certificates have been sent to recipients who will also be invited to be part of next year’s official awards celebrations. Visit https://www.dplh.wa.gov.au/heritage-awards for details of award winners.
As stated by Heritage Minister David Templeman:
“For almost 30 years, the WA Heritage Awards have showcased excellence across our diverse heritage sector and are a fantastic annual celebration of the value in protecting our past and retelling stories for future generations.
“The Lock Hospital Working Group is an exemplary community group that has worked hard to share a painful part of our history and interpret that story, and I am so very pleased to present them with these awards during NAIDOC Week.
“This project was a standout across four categories for its clear vision and dedication to the traumatic history of Bernier and Dorre Islands – a history that had not been spoken about for many years.
“It’s also a great pleasure to recognise the tireless work of two very passionate members of the working group, community leaders Bob Dorey and Kathleen Musulin who selflessly volunteered to tell the stories of the lock hospitals on the islands.”
As stated by Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt:
“Today’s presentation is a fitting recognition of the importance of interpreting Aboriginal cultural heritage and celebrating community members who work hard to achieve good social outcomes.
“Although we are celebrating NAIDOC Week a little later this year, its value remains as a time to acknowledge and listen to inspiring stories and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have made significant contributions to their communities.
“The Lock Hospital Working Group has lifted the lid on a very painful part of our State’s past and its work has left a shocking but important legacy of truth and healing for those who suffered in the tragic era of lock hospitals, and their descendants.
“The Path of Pain interpretive project and the Don’t Look at the Islands memorial statue are a sincere reflection of past wrongs that must be faced in our journey towards reconciliation.”