In April, Professor Tim Carey, Director Centre for Remote Health, attended a round table meeting organised my Melissa Sweet from Croakey. Melissa’s recently completed PhD, supervised by Professor Pat Dudgeon was an investigation of the medical incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
In particular, Melissa’s research focussed on the sites of Fantome Island near Palm Island in QLD which had both a Lock Hospital and a Leprosarium, and the Lock Hospitals on Bernier and Dorre Islands via Carnarvon in WA.
At the meeting, Joe Eggmolesse told his story of being sent to the Leprosarium on Fantome Island when he was 7 years old. He was living with his family in Nambour until then. He stayed at the hospital until he was 17 or 18 years old.
Another woman told the story of her mother and her aunty who were taken away when they were children and held on Fantome Island. Their mother (this woman’s grandmother) could get a permit once a year to leave the station where she was working near Hughenden to travel to the island to wave to her daughters.
Professor Carey was invited to the roundtable due to his role in developing and delivering an apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians from the Australian Psychological Society. The roundtable was an amazing meeting and a privilege to be in the company of people such as Professor Pat Dudgeon, Richard Weston (the Healing Foundation), Janine Mohammed Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM), Donna Murray (IAHA), and Karl Briscoe (NATSIHWA), along with elders and community members from Carnarvon and Fantome Island.
A number of recommendations were discussed at the end of the roundtable meeting and the most effective ways of progressing these recommendations.