Girls wrongfully sent to insane asylum offered compensation

GIRLS subjected to physical and sexual abuse at a former Ipswich insane asylum will finally be offered compensation, some six decades later.

The State Government has begun the reconciliation process for those who as children were in the care of the state and inappropriately placed in the Wolston Park adult mental health facility at Wacol.

Experienced community advocate and independent facilitator Betty Taylor has been appointed to lead the process and liaise with those seeking redress.

She will be speaking with between 50 and 60 women about what they would consider fair compensation. 

It comes after an expose published by the Courier Mail detailing the experiences of survivors who told of being placed in straitjackets, dosed up on antipsychotic medication, taken for shock treatment and sexually assaulted by male wardens.

When announcing the formal reconciliation, Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said it was critical to ensure the person chosen to lead the process was someone the victims were comfortable with.

"Ms Taylor's appointment is an important step to ensure that the reconciliation process is both meaningful and respectful for those who were harmed," he said.

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"I'm confident that Ms Taylor's experience working in domestic violence intervention and prevention roles means she is a good fit for the independent liaison role.

"Betty has over 30 years' experience working across the domestic and sexual assault sector and is someone who will approach this role carefully, sensitively and in a dignified manner to ensure those who have been harmed are not re-traumatised.

"I know Ms Taylor is passionate about ending gender-based violence and will bring that empathy across into her liaison duties."

Mr Dick said, if necessary, the process could take up to 12 months to be completed.

"I am keen to achieve resolution for individuals as quickly as possible; it is important we get this right," he said.

"One of Ms Taylor's first actions will be to meet with each person to identify what they are seeking from a reconciliation process, as different individuals will have different needs and expectations."

Betty Taylor is the Red Rose Foundation CEO, an organisation established to reduce deaths resulting from domestic and family violence and has been an active member of the Domestic Violence Death Review Action Groups since its formation in 2004.

She has previously held roles as the founding Director of the Gold Coast Domestic Violence Prevention Centre and as the chairwoman of the Queensland Domestic Violence Council.

Ms Taylor has also has written several training manuals including course material for the accredited course in Responding to Domestic and Family Violence and Dying To Be Heard, a discussion paper looking at domestic violence death reviews.

The Department of Health is working closely with the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (DCCSDS), the Department of the Premier and Cabinet and the Mental Health Commissioner to undertake a reconciliation process that is respectful and dignified.



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