Agency VA 2864
Lunacy Department (located in Chief Secretary's Department)
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Date Range: 1905 - 1934
 
Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency
Establishment

The Lunacy Department (located in the Chief Secretary's Department (VA 475)) was established in 1905 under the provisions of the Lunacy Act 1903 (No.1873). This Department was the main agency responsible for the care, control and treatment of persons who were deemed to be lunatics, idiots (later mental defectives) inebriates or criminally insane and of persons suffering a mental disorder arising from war service. The Department was also responsible for the administration of hospitals for the insane and licensed houses.

Prior to the establishment of the Lunacy Department, the Hospitals for the Insane Branch (Chief Secretary's Department) (VA 2863) had been the agency responsible for these functions and the chief administrative officer had been the Inspector of Lunatic Asylums and Licensed Houses.

Institutions

Under the provisions of the Lunacy Act 1903, public asylums became known as hospitals for the insane and the change of name reflected the change in emphasis from detention and custody to treatment and rehabilitation that had been evolving since the mid-nineteenth century. Hospitals for the insane were for the care and control of long term patients. The Act also provided for the establishment of receiving houses to which patients were to be admitted for observation, diagnosis and short term treatment. Lunacy wards in public hospitals became receiving wards and were for the temporary reception of insane persons or persons presumed to be insane. The Act also authorised the proclamation of separate institutions for the criminally insane and the licensing of ly run institutions known as licensed houses. The Inebriates Act 1904 (No.1940) authorised the reintroduction of a system of licensed premises for the reception, control and treatment of inebriates.

In 1887 a separate institution for the care of intellectually disabled children had been established as the Idiot Asylum (VA 2852) - a ward of Kew Asylum. In 1933 Travancore (VA 2861) a special school for " the reception of children who, although mentally defective, are capable of receiving benefit from special instruction" was established (See Annual Report 1933).

Under the provisions of the Mental Treatment Act 1915 and subsequent legislation a Convalescent Military Hospital was established at Mont Park in 1915 and a Military Mental Hospital was subsequently established at Bundoora. These and similar institutions and special wards were for the treatment of ex service personnel who were suffering from a mental disorder arising from war service. The Lunacy Department was responsible for these patients by agreement with the Commonwealth.

Central Administration of Mental Health

Prior to the proclamation of the Lunacy Act 1903, the Inspector of Lunatic Asylums and Licensed Houses and others had frequently been critical of the divided authority in the administration of the Hospitals for the Insane Branch,-the Inspector, the Under-Secretary of the Chief Secretary's Department (VA 475) and the Public Service Commissioner each having some responsibility for its administration.

The Lunacy Act 1903 placed the authority firmly in the hands of the Inspector General of the Insane who was head of the Lunacy Department. The powers of the Public Service Commissioner were vested in the Inspector General of the Insane who thus assumed the powers of permanent head in relation to the officers and employees of the Lunacy Department. The Inspector General also reported directly to the Chief Secretary and thence to Parliament. The Inspector General was not a member of the Public Service but the Public Service Lists continue to place the staff of the Lunacy Department within the Chief Secretary's Department since these officers were members of the Public Service for whom the Chief Secretary had ministerial responsibility.

Given the degree of autonomy and the powers assigned to the Inspector General, it has been decided that the Chief Secretary's Department (VA 475) should not be cited as a superior agency for the Lunacy Department. However, given that the Chief Secretary retained ministerial responsibility for mental health, it is likely that records relating to the administration of this function will be found within the records of the Chief Secretary's Department (VA 475).

In 1934 with the proclamation of the Mental Hygiene Act 1933 (No.4157) the Department of Mental Hygiene (VA 2865) assumed the responsibilities of the Lunacy Department and the powers of the Inspector General of the Insane were assumed by the Director of Mental Hygiene.

For an account of the administration of Mental Health in Victoria from 1836 to 1989 see VRG 39 Health.

Location of Records

Researchers are advised to consult the following groups: VRG 8 Health and Welfare Agencies, VRG 9 Prisons and Youth Training Centres and VRG 26 Chief Secretary, and the following sections of the List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985: 3.11.2 (Lunacy Department), 3.16.5 (Chief Secretary's Office), 3.4.7 (Penal and Gaols Branch), 8.0.0. (Health and Welfare Agencies) and 13.0.0. (Prisons and Youth Training Centre).

 
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Date Range Series Title Series Number Series Location Public Access
? 1910 - ? 1938 Applications for Admissions and Licences for Belmont and Glen Holme and Other Papers VPRS 7534 North Melbourne Open
1912 - 1983 Master Inpatient Index Cards (also known as Statistical Record Cards), Chief Psychiatrist VPRS 17945 North Melbourne Closed
1914 - Circa 1951 Registers of Voluntary Boarders in Licensed Houses VPRS 7516 North Melbourne Closed
1915 - 1954 Registers of Voluntary Boarders in Hospitals for the Insane VPRS 7515 North Melbourne Part Open
1915 - Circa 1944 Registers of Military Patients VPRS 7512 North Melbourne Part Open
By 1905 - ? 1956 Register of Applicants for Temporary Positions VPRS 7476 North Melbourne Open
By 1907 - ? 1972 Registers of Inward Correspondence VPRS 7470 North Melbourne Open
By 1907 - Circa 1946 Register of Applicants for Permanent Positions VPRS 7477 North Melbourne Part Open
By 1912 - ? 1930 Outward Letter Books VPRS 7471 North Melbourne Open
By 1930 - ? 1958 Nominal Register of Patients at Receiving Houses; Ballarat, Royal Park and Pleasant View VPRS 7482 North Melbourne Part Open
By 1931 - ? 1937 Licensed Houses Correspondence Files VPRS 7536 North Melbourne Open
Circa 1864 - Circa 1912 Staff Registers VPRS 7519 North Melbourne Open
Circa 1875 - Circa 1912 Circulars Book VPRS 7543 North Melbourne Open
Circa 1901 - Circa 1954 Sick and Annual Leave Registers (Hospitals for the Insane) VPRS 7513 North Melbourne Open
Circa 1901 - Circa 1958 Correspondence Register 1952 - 1956 Diary of Events 1952 - 1956 Register of Increments 1901 - 1911 VPRS 7507 North Melbourne Open
Circa 1908 - ? 1936 Register of Complaints Against Staff VPRS 7518 North Melbourne Open
Circa 1912 - Circa 1914 Salary Register VPRS 7521 North Melbourne Open
Circa 1915 - Circa 1939 Transfer Warrant Book VPRS 7547 North Melbourne Open
Circa 1922 - Circa 1937 Register of Inward Correspondence VPRS 7508 North Melbourne Open
Circa 1924 - ? 1959 Register of Boarded Out Patients VPRS 7563 North Melbourne Part Open
Functions for which this Agency has or has had primary responsibilityFunctions for which this Agency has or has had primary responsibility
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Date of Responsibility Function Title Function Number
1905 - 1934 Intellectual disability services VF 249
1905 - 1934 Health, mental VF 128
Functions for which this Agency has or has had secondary responsibilityFunctions for which this Agency has or has had secondary responsibility
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Date of Responsibility Function Title Function Number
Superior AgenciesSuperior Agencies
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Date of Relationship Agency Title Agency Number
1905 - 1934 Chief Secretary's Department VA 475
Subordinate AgenciesSubordinate Agencies
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Date of Relationship Agency Title Agency Number
1905 - ? 1916 Sunnyside Licensed House VA 2860
1905 - 1925 Yarra Bend (Asylum 1848-1905; Hospital for the Insane 1905-1925) VA 2839
1905 - 1933 Ararat (Asylum 1867-1905; Hospital for the Insane 1905-1934; Mental Hospital 1934-1993; Training Centre 1966-1993; Ararat Forensic Psychiatry Centre 1991-1997; Training Centre and Mental Hospital known as non-statutory name of Aradale) VA 2841
1905 - 1934 Kew (Asylum 1871-1905; Hospital for the Insane 1905-1934; Mental Hospital 1934-c.1970's; Mental/Psychiatric Hospital c.1970's-1988) VA 2840
1905 - 1934 Beechworth (Asylum 1867-1905; Hospital for the Insane 1905-1934; Mental Hospital 1934-1967; Mayday Hills Mental Hospital 1967-1991; Mayday Hills Psychiatric Hospital 1978-1995) VA 2842
1905 - 1934 Sunbury (Asylum 1879-1905; Hospital for the Insane 1905-1934; Mental Hospital 1934-1962; Mental Hospital/Training Centre 1962-1985; Caloola Training Centre 1985-1992) VA 2843
1905 - 1934 Ballarat (Asylum 1877-1879; 1893-1905; Hospital for the Insane 1905-1934; Mental Hospital 1934-1969; Lakeside Hospital 1969-1996) VA 2844
1905 - 1934 St Helens/Pleasant View (St Helens Licensed House 1916-1928; Pleasant View Licensed House 1928-1953; Pleasant View Receiving House 1953-1962; Pleasant View Psychiatric Hospital 1962-1973; Plesant View Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre 1973-1995) VA 2848
1905 - 1934 Kew Cottages (Kew Idiot Ward/Asylum 1887-1929; Cottages 1929-1962; Training Centre 1962-c1997; Kew Residential Services c1997-2008. VA 2852
1905 - 1934 Bendigo Receiving Ward VA 2862
1906 - 1910 Landcox Licensed House VA 2925
1906 - 1911 Cloverdale Licensed House VA 2855
1906 - 1928 Mt Ida Licensed House VA 2857
1906 - 1934 Merton Licensed House VA 2858
1907 - 1934 Royal Park (Receiving House 1907-1959; Hospital for the Insane 1909-1934; Mental Hospital 1934-1954; Psychiatric Hospital 1959-1999) VA 2845
1910 - 1922 Glen Holme Licensed House VA 2924
1910 - 1924 The Tofts Licensed House VA 2856
1912 - 1934 Mont Park (Hospital for the Insane 1912-1934; Mental Hospital 1934-1991; Psychiatric Hospital 1971-1991) VA 2846
1922 - 1934 Belmont Licensed House VA 2854
1933 - 1934 Travancore (Special School 1933-1938; Developmental Centre 1938-1968; Psychiatric Development Centre 1968-1982; Child and Family Centre 1982-ct) VA 2861
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1905 - 1934 Chief Secretary VRG 26