By C. Coleborne
Insanity within the family members explores how colonial households coped with madness via a trans-colonial research of the relationships among households and public colonial hospitals for the insane in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and New Zealand among 1860 and 1914.
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Extra info for Madness in the Family: Insanity and Institutions in the Australasian Colonial World, 1860–1914
By their very nature, colonial asylums were of and for the people, intricately bound up with forms of government and social order. But the report’s preamble commented that it was perhaps because of this circumstance that colonial institutions failed, 20 Madness in the Family from a British perspective, in their endeavours in specific ways. Some colonial institutions were perceived as inhumane, and resembled earlier forms of British standards of care. 32 Furthermore, the statistics gathered and reported by colonial authorities had omitted required details, suggesting that their administration was poor.
1905 Admissions Readmissions Total Auckland Gladesville Yarra Bend Goodna 171 223 244 235 29 74 na* 50 200 306 244 285 Note: *No figures were supplied for the Yarra Bend Source: Official figures from annual Asylum Inspectors reports, Parliamentary Papers (Australian colonies) and Appendices to the Journal of the House of Representatives (New Zealand), 1904–1905. 38 Madness in the Family population was sparse in the north of the state, meaning that few other large institutions existed. The Australian and New Zealand asylums drew upon the population that had grown up in the flux of colonial life.
The Australian and New Zealand asylums drew upon the population that had grown up in the flux of colonial life. Class, gender, and ethnicity shaped the institutional worlds of the insane, just as they characterised the colonies more widely. The public asylums housed people from all walks of life, but both reflected and reproduced the prevailing rhetoric around class, as attempts to shape the internal worlds of asylums reveal. The vast majority of institutionalised people were from poor, working-class families, with many from rural locations.