Don’t Look at the Islands: a statue will commemorate Aboriginal prisoner patients

Concept design for Don't Look at the Islands sculpture.

A bronze statue is being built to commemorate a hundred years since the last Aboriginal prisoner patient was repatriated from Lock Hospitals on Bernier and Dorre Islands off the coast of Western Australia.

The sculpture will stand at One Mile Jetty at Carnarvon, 890kms north of Perth — the point from which Aboriginal detainees were removed from the mainland and transported to the islands, many never to return.

The WA government said it would contribute $140,000 to the sculpture and the Shire of Carnarvon, $25,000.

A concept design for the sculpture, Don’t Look at the Islands, shows a child grasping a mother’s skirts as she covers her eyes and points in the direction of the islands.

The Lock Hospitals ran from 1908 to 1918. Aboriginal prisoner patients were forcibly removed from country and transported there to be treated for the non-specific diagnosis of venereal disease.

More than 200 people were estimated to have died at the institutions.

An event to mark a hundred years since the last Aboriginal patient was repatriated will be held at One Mile Jetty on January 9.

WA Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the hospitals were an “appalling chapter” in WA’s history.

“The significant cultural ceremony in January will provide cultural closure for those spirits and their grieving families,” she said.

“The recognition of injustice is necessary if we are to move on the path of reconciliation.”

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