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The sculpture commemorates the Aboriginals who were incarcerated in the Lock Hospital in the Bernier and Dorre lock hospitals between 1908 and 1919.   The prisoner patients were said to have the non-specific diagnosis of “venereal disease”, although there are many questions about the reliability of this diagnosis.  Non-Indigenous people with venereal diseases were not subject to such measures. 

These hospitals were a part of a wider story of the medical incarceration of Aboriginal people across Australia, and others also existed in Port Hedland, Western Australia, and Barambah and Fantome Island in Queensland.  Leprosy field hospitals were also established in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland.

Early in the 20th century, hundreds of Aboriginal men and women were imprisoned on islands 50 kilometres offshore because authorities suspected they had venereal diseases.  Between 1908 and 1919, hundreds of Aboriginal men and women were taken into custody and marched to Carnarvon — some for hundreds of kilometres, some in chains — where they were put in boats and taken to the Bernier and Dorre Islands.  

Some were left on the uninhabited, desolate sandy islands for years.  It is estimated more than 200 people died on the islands, where their remains were left in unmarked areas. 

The sculpture depicts a young woman pointing towards the Bernier and Dorre Islands, where her family members may have been held, her other hand covering her face. Her little brother clings to her waist, his back to the sea.

Aboriginal people taken to the hospitals were often forcibly removed from their families and communities and transported in traumatic conditions, in chains and under police guard. The islands' facilities were inadequate, people had no contact with their families back home, and they were made to undergo experimental medical treatments.

Note: A lock hospital was an establishment that specialized in treating sexually transmitted diseases. They operated in Britain and its colonies and territories from the 18th century to the 20th.




Address:Annear Place, One Mile Jetty, Carnarvon, 6701
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -24.875786
Long: 113.629811
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Sculpture
Monument Theme:Culture
Approx. Event Start Date:1908
Approx. Event End Date:1919
Artist:Joan Walsh-Smith & Charles Smith


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Thursday 18th April, 2019
Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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