Agency VA 2865
Department of Mental Hygiene (located in Chief Secretary's Department VA 475)
About this Agency Records Related Functions Related Agencies
Date Range: 1934 - 1944
 
Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency
The Department of Mental Hygiene was responsible for the development and direction of policy governing the treatment of the mentally ill, the intellectually handicapped and inebriates and for the establishment and administration of institutions for their care for the period 1934 to 1944.

Central Administration

The Department of Mental Hygiene was established in 1934 following the proclamation of the Mental Hygiene Act (No.4157). Under the provisions of this legislation the titles of mental health agencies were altered to reflect changing community attitudes towards mental illness and new approaches to the treatment of the mentally disturbed. The Lunacy Department (VA 2864) became known as the Department of Mental Hygiene; the Inspector-General of the Insane became the Director of Mental Hygiene; hospitals for the insane became known as mental hospitals and licensed houses became mental homes.

The Department of Mental Hygiene was located within the Chief Secretary's Department (VA 475) as its predecessor had been. The Director of Mental Hygiene assumed the powers and responsibilities of the Inspector General of the Insane, as established by the provisions of the Lunacy Act 1928 (No.3721). The Director thus assumed the powers of the Public Service Commissioner in relation to the officers and employees of the Department of Mental Hygiene. The Director exercised the powers of permanent head in relation to these employees and reported directly to the Chief Secretary and thence to Parliament. Given the powers assigned to the Director of Mental Hygiene, it has been decided that the Chief Secretary's Department (VA 475) should not be cited as a superior agency for the Department of Mental Hygiene for the period 1934 to 1940.

However in 1940, under the provisions of the Public Service Act (No.4751) the Director of Mental Hygiene ceased to exercise the powers of the Public Service Commissioner in relation to the officers and employees of the Department of Mental Hygiene. The Public Service Commissioner had been replaced by the Public Service Board (VA 886) and the permanent officers of the Department elected one member of the Board who sat whenever matters concerning officers of the Department of Mental Hygiene were being considered. The Director retained certain powers in relation to disciplinary and other matters but no longer exercised all the powers of permanent head. Consequently the Chief Secretary's Department (VA 475) has been cited as a superior agency for the period 1940 - 1944.

Given that the Chief Secretary had ministerial responsibility for mental health from 1855 to 1944, 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).

By 1937, two branches had been established within the Department of Mental Hygiene. The Mental Defectives Branch was responsible for the care of retarded children and adults, while the Mental Hygiene Branch was responsible for the treatment of the mentally ill.

Institutions

Under the provisions of the Lunacy Act 1928 (No.3721) and the Mental Hygiene Act (No.4157) and related legislation a variety of institutions had been established for the care and treatment of the mentally ill, mental defectives and inebriates and for those suffering a mental disorder consequent upon their war service.

Institutions for the long term treatment of patients suffering from chronic mental illness were known as mental hospitals. Hospitals for the short term assessment, diagnosis and treatment of people suffering from acute mental illness were known as receiving houses and special wards within public hospitals were known as receiving wards. Places for the care of ex-service personnel suffering from war related mental illness were known as mental treatment institutions. ly run institutions (or licensed houses) for the care of the mentally ill were to be known as mental homes from 1934. Separate institutions for the criminally insane such as "J Ward" Ararat were known as hospitals for the criminally insane.

The Mental Deficiency Act 1939 (No.4703) provided for the establishment of state institutions for the care of mental defectives and retarded children and for the licensing of ly run institutions. In 1932 a special school, staffed by teachers seconded from the Education Department (VA 714) had been opened at Kew Childrens Cottages (VA 2852) previously the Idiot Ward of Kew Asylum. In 1933 Travancore (VA 2861) had been established for "the reception of children who, although mentally defective, are capable of receiving benefit from special instruction". (See Annual Report 1933.) In 1937, Janefield (VA 2847) was opened to provide accommodation and educational instruction for the severely retarded.

The Director of Mental Hygiene was also responsible for those ly run premises which had been licensed for the reception, control and treatment of inebriates, later known as alcoholics.

Abolition

The Department of Mental Hygiene was effectively abolished under the provisions of the Ministry of Health Act 1943 (No.4988). In 1944 following the proclamation of this Act and a major re-organisation and amalgamation of the administration of health services, including mental health services, the responsibilities of the Department of Mental Hygiene were assumed by the Mental Hygiene Branch (VA 2866) of the newly established Department of Health I (VA 695).

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 VRG 8 Health and Welfare Agencies, VRG 26 Chief Secretary and VRG 9 Prisons and Youth Training centres.

Researchers should also consult the following sections of the List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985: 3.11.2. (Mental Hygiene Branch), 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 Centres).

 
More Research resourcesMore Research resources
Record series created by this AgencyRecord series created by this Agency
Display entries per page
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 1929 - ? 1950 Master Set of Examination Papers for Nurses and Attendants VPRS 7540 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 1901 - Circa 1954 Sick and Annual Leave Registers (Hospitals for the Insane) VPRS 7513 North Melbourne Open
Circa 1908 - ? 1936 Register of Complaints Against Staff VPRS 7518 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
Circa 1937 - Circa 1943 Salary Register for Special Schools VPRS 7522 North Melbourne Open
Circa 1939 - Circa 1957 Sick and Special Leave Register (Mental Defectives Branch) VPRS 7514 North Melbourne Open
Functions for which this Agency has or has had primary responsibilityFunctions for which this Agency has or has had primary responsibility
Display entries per page
Date of Responsibility Function Title Function Number
1934 - 1944 Intellectual disability services VF 249
1934 - 1944 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
Display entries per page
Date of Responsibility Function Title Function Number
Superior AgenciesSuperior Agencies
Display entries per page
Date of Relationship Agency Title Agency Number
1940 - 1944 Chief Secretary's Department VA 475
Subordinate AgenciesSubordinate Agencies
Display entries per page
Date of Relationship Agency Title Agency Number
1934 - 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
1934 - 1936 Belmont Licensed House VA 2854
1934 - 1944 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
1934 - 1944 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
1934 - 1944 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
1934 - 1944 Ballarat (Asylum 1877-1879; 1893-1905; Hospital for the Insane 1905-1934; Mental Hospital 1934-1969; Lakeside Hospital 1969-1996) VA 2844
1934 - 1944 Royal Park (Receiving House 1907-1959; Hospital for the Insane 1909-1934; Mental Hospital 1934-1954; Psychiatric Hospital 1959-1999) VA 2845
1934 - 1944 Mont Park (Hospital for the Insane 1912-1934; Mental Hospital 1934-1991; Psychiatric Hospital 1971-1991) VA 2846
1934 - 1944 Janefield (Colony 1937-1962; Training Centre 1962-1996) VA 2847
1934 - 1944 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
1934 - 1944 Kew Cottages (Kew Idiot Ward/Asylum 1887-1929; Cottages 1929-1962; Training Centre 1962-c1997; Kew Residential Services c1997-2008. VA 2852
1934 - 1944 Merton Licensed House VA 2858
1934 - 1944 Travancore (Special School 1933-1938; Developmental Centre 1938-1968; Psychiatric Development Centre 1968-1982; Child and Family Centre 1982-ct) VA 2861
1934 - 1944 Bendigo Receiving Ward VA 2862
1937 - 1944 Pleasant Creek (Pleasant Creek Colony 1937-1969; Pleasant Creek Training Centre 1969-1999) VA 5118
1939 - 1944 Hillcrest Licensed House VA 2859
Related AgenciesRelated Agencies
Display entries per page
Date of Relationship Agency Title Agency Number
Groups containing this AgencyGroups containing this Agency
Display entries per page
Date of Relationship Group Title Group Number
1934 - 1944 Chief Secretary VRG 26