lock hospital tragedy

The Lock Hospital Tragedy Memorial 'Don't look at the Islands' was installed at the Carnarvon Heritage Precinct on 17 April 2019, marking 100 years since the Lock Hospitals commenced operations of the coast of Carnarvon.   

The bronze sculpture, 'Don't look at the Islands' depicts the distress of children whose parents were forcibly taken from them and placed on the islands under the guise of contagious illness. 

From 1908 to 1918 many Aboriginal men, women and children, labelled as suffering from venereal disease were collected from areas across the North and North East of Western Australia and transported across to the Lock Hospital set up Islands off Carnarvon’s coast. The women and children were segregated on Dorre Island, and the men on Bernier Island. The hospitals did not provide adequate facilities for the people who were taken there, let alone have any proper treatment to deal with the emotional trauma they experience
because of being forcibly taken there – away from their families and communities and kept in isolation in a foreign environment, while receiving poor treatment. Many people died.

This sculpture of a girl, pointing towards the islands - her hand covering her eyes – unable to even look towards these forlorn places of incarceration and pain, is based on this tragically inspirational story. We have endeavoured to capture the huge depth of the intensity of her forlornness, with this one simple gesture. Her little brother, clinging to the only ‘mother’ figure he has now, expresses the premature responsibility that this young girl will have to face, as his future guardian while, herself, too young to be cut adrift from her extended family who were often situated far away, left behind, when the children followed their parents to Carnarvon.