|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
Establishment of a Hospital for the Insane
Mont Park Hospital for the Insane was opened in April 1912 under the Lunacy Act 1903. Its proclamation as a Hospital for the Insane was published in the Government Gazette on the 23 October 1912 (No. 23, p. 707). It was located on Ernest Jones Drive, Macleod.
Since its establishment the title of the institution at Mont Park has been altered to reflect both the community's changing attitude towards mental illness and the Victorian Government's approach to the treatment of mentally ill persons. Despite the changes in designation the function and structure of the agency has not altered significantly, therefore the institution has been registered as one continuous agency. The Mental Hygiene Act 1933 (No.1873) altered the title of all "hospitals for the insane" to "mental hospitals".
A hospital for the insane/mental hospital was any public building proclaimed by the Governor-in-Council and published in the Government Gazette as a place for the reception of lunatics. A hospital for the insane could also provide wards for the temporary reception of patients as well as long term patients.
Patients could not be detained in a hospital for the insane without a warrant requesting their admission. Prior to 1934 the Chief Secretary (VRG 26) was responsible for this function. From 1934 the Director of Mental Hygiene (VA 2865) and from 1952 the Chief Medical Officer of the Mental Hygiene Branch (VA 2866) were successively responsible for admission of patients. The Lunacy Act 1914 made provision for the admission of patients on a voluntary basis, that is, on a patient's own request for a specified period of time.
Development of Services
After World War 1, Mont Park catered primarily for mentally unwell military personnel, until Bundoora Repatriation Hospital opened in 1933. In 1925, when Yarra Bend Asylum closed, all patients were transferred to Mont Park.
During the 1930s and 1940s Mont Park was regarded as the leading hospital for the treatment of mental illnesses. In 1941, Mont Park installed the Department's first X-Ray unit, and Victorian schizophrenics were first treated with insulin at Mont Park.
In 1951, Larundel was first opened as a ward of Mont Park, becoming a separate hospital in 1953. Royal Park and Larundel Hospitals acted as the receiving or acute admission centres for Victoria's mental health service, while Mont Park functioned as a long stay mental hospital.
A new surgical unit also opened at Mont Park in November 1953. The following year leucotomy operations were performed (a leucotomy is a surgical interruption of nerve tracts to and from the frontal lobe of the brain).
By 1963, Mont Park's patient population had risen to 1500 and further facilities were required to accommodate the increasing demand for mental health services. In March 1963 Plenty Mental Hospital was established as one of three psychiatric institutions (Plenty, Larundel and Mont Park) on a large campus at Bundoora. At the time, this was still Melbourne's north east fringe. Like Larundel and Mont Park, Plenty had a mix of acute and extended-care wards, with the latter having a number of long-term patients.
In 1971, the Mental Health Authority changed policy and began moves for each major mental health hospital to provide a range of psychiatric care to specified Victorian catchment areas. For the north east region, including Preston, Northcote and Whittlesea, short-term treatment was allocated to Mont Park Psychiatric Hospital, and long-term rehabilitation to the Mont Park Mental Hospital. The Mont Park Psychiatric Hospital was a unit within the Mont Park Mental Hospital. Outpatient services were provided at the (former) Ernest Jones Clinic.
Mont Park continued its own administration until the formation of North Eastern Metropolitan Psychiatric Services (commonly known as NEMPS) (VA 5083) in 1991. Victoria Government Gazette, G32, 21 August 1991, page 2315, stated "by this proclamation under section 94 (1) of the Mental Health Act 1986 of hte premises known as Mont Park Psychiatric Hospital excluding Wards M5 and M6 as an approved psychiatric hospital from 19 August 1991".
Military Mental Hospital
In 1915 a ward at Mont Park was taken over as a Convalescent Military Hospital. An agreement was made with the Defence Department for the latter to erect the Mont Park central block for use as a Military Hospital. This hospital was generally referred to as the Military Mental Hospital or the Military Mental Block, and primarily catered for ex-military personnel with chronic psychiatric illness.
There was also a hospital variously known as the Bundoora Farm or Homestead or the Repatriation Mental Hospital built on or near the current site of the Bundoora Repatriation Hospital. This agency was established in the 1920's to accommodate ex-military personnel suffering from psychiatric illness who were considered to be the better conducted cases.
Close ties were apparently kept between this establishment and the military section of Mont Park Hospital for the Insane, as some records in the custody of the Public Record Office have both Mont Park and Bundoora as the recording agencies.
The military block at Mont Park was closed in 1924 and handed back to the State for civilian mental cases (See VA 5087 Bundoora Repatriation Hospital).
Location of Records
Some clinical and administrative records are in the custody of the Public Record Office. See below.