Ballarat Psychiatric Hospital history in brief
Ballarat Psychiatric Hospital operated briefly from 1962–69, assessing patients and arranging their transfers when required.
When all Receiving Houses were classified as Psychiatric Hospitals, Ballarat Psychiatric Hospital carried on with the same function as Novar Receiving House [see guide for Novar Receiving House].
In 1969, when construction of Parklands Clinic was completed, Ballarat Psychiatric Hospital closed and patients were transferred to Parklands.
Warning about distressing information
This guide contains information that some people may find distressing. If you experienced abuse as a child or young person in an institution mentioned in this guide, it may be a difficult reading experience. Guides may also contain references to previous views, policies and practices that are regrettable and do not reflect the current views, policies or practices of the department or the State of Victoria. If you find this content distressing, please consult with a support person either from the Department of Health and Human Services or another agency.
Please note that the content of this administrative history is provided for general information only and does not purport to be comprehensive. The department does not guarantee the accuracy of this administrative history.
See Find & Connect for more detail on the history of child welfare in Australia
Department of Health and Human Services agency history files.
List of records held by the department
For information relating to the central management of care leavers and wards of state, please consult the guide to Central department wardship and out-of-home care records. These collections date back to the 1860s and include ward registers, index cards and ward files.
Register of Patients, Ballarat Psychiatric Hospital (1962–69)
Volume; Permanent VPRS Number 17808 / P0001 VPRS 17808 Hospital]
Content: Volumes detailing male and female patient admissions to Ballarat Psychiatric Hospital.
The Register of Patients includes:
- Admission number
- Patient name
- Admission date
- Marital status
- Previous place of abode
- By whose authority sent
- Form of mental illness/supposed cause of mental illness
- Physical condition
- Date of removal, Discharge or Death
Entries are chronological by patient admission date. Separate sequential admission numbers are assigned to male and female patients.
Public asylums and licensed houses were required to maintain a register of patients – the Book of Admissions, or Admissions Register, or Admission And Discharge Register – sometimes stamped on the volumes. (Institutions were also required to maintain a separate register of discharges, removals and deaths: a Discharge Register.)
Immediately upon a person’s admission, the clerk of the asylum had to enter in the register of patients: patient's name; date of admission; admission number; date of last previous admission; age; marital status; occupation; previous place of abode; religion; form of mental disorder; state of physical health. Further details were entered upon death, transfer or discharge.
After the Mental Health Act 1959, the record then was officially known as the register of patients and discharge register and included information about the five types of admission:
- Voluntary boarders (V) who entered the hospital at their own request or, if under the age of 16, at the request of a parent or guardian and on the opinion of a medical practitioner.
- Recommended (R) and approved (A) patients. A person could be admitted upon the recommendation of a medical practitioner. As soon as possible after admission the hospital superintendent was required to examine the patient and either approve the admission, or discharge the patient.
- Judicial admissions (J). An order could be made for a mentally ill person to be admitted to/detained in a mental hospital via an oath made before a justice that they were not receiving proper care, or could not support themselves, or had committed an offence, and after examination by two medical practitioners.
- Security patients (S) were those who were in gaol but were determined to be mentally ill and transferred to a mental hospital.
The register of patients and discharge register officially superseded the separate discharge register.
Records of patients in asylums were well controlled.
Mostly, patient records are arranged by the date of admission or date of discharge (including death). Some asylums, however, maintained a nominal register by patient surname.
Patient admissions were recorded in date order and each was allocated an admission number. An index of surnames was often created to provide access to the entries. Admission warrants authorising patients’ committal were filed by admission number and arranged by admission date.
Case histories were recorded on each patient, initially entered in bound volumes, (case books) in order of admission date (admission number order). A separate Index to the case books was sometimes maintained, and from 1912 used loose-leaf folios for patient clinical notes.
Folios were transferred with patients when they moved between asylums, and the notes filed alphabetically by surname according to the year of final discharge or death.
In 1953, clinical notes became Patient Files, and were controlled and arranged the same way. Routine examinations of patients were recorded in annual and quinquennial (5-yearly) examination registers, usually by date of examination or date of admission. The volumes are often self-indexing.
The discharge, transfer or death of patients was initially recorded in separate discharge registers as well as in the register of patients and the case histories. From 1962, separate discharge registers were phased out.
Patient Case Histories (Psychiatric Hospital) (1962–69)
File; Permanent VPRS Number 18109 / P0001
Content: Each patient admitted into Ballarat Psychiatric Hospital was required by legislation to have a file created which documents their case history from time of admission to discharge or death.
All files in this series include personal details of the patients and depending on circumstances can include superintendent's examinations, special investigations, physical examinations, psychiatric history, psychiatric examinations, nursing notes and special treatment. According to the Mental Health Regulations 1962, case records were to be entered:
- A on admission of the patient
- B at least once weekly for the first four weeks
- C at least monthly for the following two months
- D at six monthly intervals thereafter.
This series was created in the period 1962 to 1969 during which Ballarat Psychiatric Hospital operated, so the file content is consistent. The Mental Health Regulations 1962 made provision for colour coded sheets to be used within the files for specific purposes. These include, but are not limited to:
- Sheet 1 (brown) - Face sheet providing personal details
- Sheet 2 (purple) - Referring letters
- Sheet 3 (red) - Superintendent's Examination
- Sheet 4 (orange) - Special Examinations
- Sheet 5 (yellow) - Physical Examination
- Sheet 6 (blue) - Psychiatric History
- Sheet 7 (black) - Psychiatric Examination
- Sheet 8A (pink stripe) - Treatment Sheet
- Sheet 9 (red) - Re-Admission and Re-Examination
- Sheet 10 (green) - Social Worker's Report
- Sheet 12 (orange) - Occupational Therapy
- Sheet 16 (mauve) - Nursing Notes
- Sheet 17 (pink) - Weight Chart
- Sheet 18 (brown) - Temperature Chart
- Sheet 20 (black) - Post Mortem Examination
- Sheet 21 (turquoise) - Surgical Referral and Report
- Sheet 22 (purple) - Operation Sheet
- Sheet 24 (mid blue) - Eye Sheet
- Sheet 26 (blue stripe) - Patient Accident Report
Other information contained within the files can include: admission form, discharge summary, Coroner’s reports, medical consents, pathology results, as well as correspondence from and to individuals and organisations. Files relating to patients who have died may include autopsy reports, correspondence and statements relating to the patient's death.
In some cases, particularly when a patient had earlier admissions or admissions to other institutions, files or papers associated with those admissions will be included in files in this series. Similarly, administrative activity, such as requests for information in files that postdate the closure of these files, may be documented in these files. The contents data range may thus be greater than the period in which the series itself was created.
Firstly, files are grouped either by category of Death or Discharged. Secondly, within those groups, files are grouped by year of death or discharge. Finally, within the year groups, files are arranged alphabetically by patient name.
Patient Warrants (1962–69)
Content: Warrants document the authorisation for receiving, transferring and discharging of either voluntary or recommended patients.
These records show that a person has been legally held at the centre as a psychiatric patient. They contain requests for admission, medical certificates and sometimes other documents such as police reports and discharge or death notices.
The records are in numerical order which corresponds to the admission number that can be obtained from the admission registers.