Agency VA 2866
Mental Hygiene Branch, Department of Health I
About this Agency Records Related Functions Related Agencies
Date Range: 1944 - 1978
 
Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency
Establishment

The Mental Hygiene Branch, Department of Health I was established in 1944 following the proclamation of the Ministry of Health Act 1943 (No.4988). This Act provided for a major reorganisation and amalgamation of the administration of health services in Victoria. Responsibility for the administration of the Mental Hygiene Acts and the Mental Deficiency Act 1939 (No.4703) was transferred from the Chief Secretary (VRG 26) to the Minister of Health (VRG 39) and the Mental Hygiene Branch was established as a division of the newly established Department of Health I (VA 695).

The Mental Hygiene Branch assumed responsibility for those functions previously administered by the Department of Mental Hygiene (VA 2865) which had been located within the Chief Secretary's Department (VA 475). The Branch thus became responsible for the development and direction of policy governing the treatment of the mentally ill, the care of the mentally retarded and the care and treatment of alcoholics and drug dependent persons and for the establishment and administration of institutions for their care. The establishment of the Branch also represented a continuing change in community attitudes towards mental illness and intellectual disability and led to a significant expansion of services for these people.

Administration

The Branch appears to have functioned quite autonomously within the Department of Health I (VA 695). The Director of Mental Hygiene, as principal officer, formulated mental health policy and was responsible for the administration of all functions provided for by the Mental Hygiene Acts. However, for the purposes of the Public Service Act the Secretary of the Department of Health I (VA 695) was ultimately responsible for the Branch. This was not to deprive the Director of the Branch of direct access to the Minister for the purpose of making representations on matters affecting the Mental Hygiene Branch (S.6(4)). Thus the Director reported directly to the Minister (see Annual Reports 1944-1949) but the officers of the Branch and the staff of all government mental institutions were subject to the authority of the Public Service Board (VA 886). Approval for any construction, maintenance or repair work undertaken by the Branch had to be obtained from the Public Works Department (VA 669).

In 1947 the Government established the Mental Hospitals Inquiry Committee, whose terms of reference included a review of the control of the Branch. Subsequently in 1952, under the provisions of the Mental Hygiene Authority Act 1950 (No.5519) the Director of Mental Hygiene was replaced by the Mental Hygiene Authority (VA 2838).

This Authority was reconstituted as the Mental Health Authority (VA 692) in 1962 under the provisions of the Mental Health Act 1959 (No.6605). The Authority was responsible for policy relating to mental health and control of the Mental Hygiene Branch. Between 1944 and 1978 the Mental Hygiene Branch greatly increased its services to patients and the public with the establishment of several clinics and childrens' facilities. It adopted a policy of regionalisation of facilities for the retarded and mentally ill, providing local accommodation in a less institutionalised environment.

The Chief Medical Officer of the Branch was given the statutory powers of the Director of Mental Hygiene in relation to admission, transfer, trial leave and discharge of patients and was also responsible for the physical well being of patients generally. The Chief Clinical Officer of the Branch was responsible for the treatment of mental disorders, research and staff training in the Branch.

Functions

Activities of the Branch between 1944 and 1978 included:

(a) provision of adult, child and adolescent psychiatric services through a comprehensive range of programmes including:

* psychiatric hospitals for short term acute patients
* mental hospitals for long term patients
* out patient consultations at hospitals and clinics
* day hospital facilities at hospitals and clinics
* Personal Emergency Advisory Service
* community psychiatric services.

(b) provision of adult and child forensic services
(c) programmes relating to undergraduate and post graduate training in psychiatry, the training of psychiatric nurses and other professional staff and mental health research based at the Mental Health Research Institute.

The Health Commission Act 1977 (No.9023) abolished the Mental Hygiene Branch and the Mental Health Authority and responsibility for the functions of both agencies was transferred to the newly constituted Health Commission of Victoria (VA 652) in which a Mental Health Division (VA 696) was established.

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 39 Health for agencies which created records relating to the central administration of mental health and VRG 8 Health and Welfare Agencies for institutions administered by the Mental Hygiene Branch, Department of Health I (VA 2866).

Researchers should also consult the following sections of the List of Holdings 2nd edition, 1985: 3.11.2. (Mental Hygiene Branch), 3.11.3. (Department of Health), and 8.0.0. (Health and Welfare Agencies).

 
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Record series created by this AgencyRecord series created by this Agency
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Date Range Series Title Series Number Series Location Public Access
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
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
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 1924 - ? 1959 Register of Boarded Out Patients VPRS 7563 North Melbourne Part Open
Circa 1939 - Circa 1957 Sick and Special Leave Register (Mental Defectives Branch) VPRS 7514 North Melbourne Open
Circa 1958 - Circa 1986 Mental Deficiency Nurse Training Summary Cards VPRS 18218 North Melbourne Closed
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
1944 - 1978 Intellectual disability services VF 249
1944 - 1978 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
1944 - 1978 Department of Health I VA 695
1952 - 1962 Mental Hygiene Authority VA 2838
1962 - 1978 Mental Health Authority VA 692
Subordinate AgenciesSubordinate Agencies
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Date of Relationship Agency Title Agency Number
1944 - 1950 Hillcrest Licensed House VA 2859
1944 - 1951 Bendigo Receiving Ward VA 2862
1944 - 1954 Merton Licensed House VA 2858
1944 - 1973 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
1944 - 1978 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
1944 - 1978 Ballarat (Asylum 1877-1879; 1893-1905; Hospital for the Insane 1905-1934; Mental Hospital 1934-1969; Lakeside Hospital 1969-1996) VA 2844
1944 - 1978 Royal Park (Receiving House 1907-1959; Hospital for the Insane 1909-1934; Mental Hospital 1934-1954; Psychiatric Hospital 1959-1999) VA 2845
1944 - 1978 Mont Park (Hospital for the Insane 1912-1934; Mental Hospital 1934-1991; Psychiatric Hospital 1971-1991) VA 2846
1944 - 1978 Janefield (Colony 1937-1962; Training Centre 1962-1996) VA 2847
1944 - 1978 Kew Cottages (Kew Idiot Ward/Asylum 1887-1929; Cottages 1929-1962; Training Centre 1962-c1997; Kew Residential Services c1997-2008. VA 2852
1944 - 1978 Travancore (Special School 1933-1938; Developmental Centre 1938-1968; Psychiatric Development Centre 1968-1982; Child and Family Centre 1982-ct) VA 2861
1944 - 1978 Pleasant Creek (Pleasant Creek Colony 1937-1969; Pleasant Creek Training Centre 1969-1999) VA 5118
1945 - 1978 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
1945 - 1978 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
1945 - 1978 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
1949 - 1978 Larundel (Mental Hospital 1953-1991; Receiving House 1953-1959; Psychiatric Hospital 1959-1999) VA 5082
1963 - 1978 Plenty (Mental Hospital 1963-1991; Psychiatric Hospital 1971-1991) VA 5091
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1944 - 1978 Health VRG 39