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Peat Island

Dreaming and desecration

Adrian Mitchell

Peat Island
For just over 100 years an institution for the mentally ill has stood on little Peat Island, in the lower Hawkesbury.

It was decommissioned in 2010; quite empty now, it remains a locked facility just as it had always been. And eerie.

The last residents were dispersed into the wider community. In this, they echoed the fate of the Darkinjung people, original custodians of this country - their community was scattered just as intentionally, and effectively, if not quite so brutally. It is not one of the New South Wales government's finest accomplishments.

For all the unhappiness associated with it, Peat Island was home for more than 3000 residents, males only for the first half of its modern history. Over time, it became a happier place, even as the facility itself aged, fell into disrepair, and became a bureaucratic nightmare and a political football.

This is its sorry story.

Praise for Peat Island:
'A valuable history that has been painstakingly researched and beautifully written.' - John Myrtle, Honest History

'Mitchell hasn’t mixed his words and calls a spade a spade. He gives his opinion about governments, ministers, doctors and anyone else involved with the treatment of this kind of patients, and he is to be admired for that. His research has produced a horrific story, which did not only happen on Peat Island.' - Nic Klaassen, Flinders Ranges Research

'While much of this lively history documents the institution and the people who lived there, the narrative is infused with the natural atmosphere of the island and an appreciation for what it meant to the original Indigenous inhabitants and the patients who came after them.' - Fiona Capp, Sydney Morning Herald

'Reveals many of the dilemmas that are still argued today, of institutional treatment vs community programs, and how to best care for people with disabilities or mental issues.' - Helen Eddy, ReadPlus

'Well-written and researched.' - Mike Scanlon, The Newcastle Herald

Adrian Mitchell retired from academic life at the University of Sydney in 2006, though he has remained an honorary research associate in the Department of English since then. In the respite from that kind of confusion he has managed to publish six previous books, all with Wakefield Press. These are all stories of people and communities that should be better known than they are - the people, that is, but the books too ... Plein Airs and Graces was shortlisted in the Prime Minister's Literary Awards. Adrian now lives on the edge of Kuring-gai Chase at the northern perimeter of Sydney.

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Details
Category History
Format Paperback
Size 210 x 140 mm
ISBN 9781743055502
Extent 264 pages
Price: AU$34.95 including GST
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