I was going to be doing this months blog on the Abuse case (uncovering the truth) but I'm going to shift that till next month as I've had a progressive month with other priorities. I took a drive past the hospital site last week and it is looking pretty similar to the past few months, slowly becoming a demo site, But for now the shell's of the many buildings still stand. I have many people who ask me that question!! The Admin block and caretakers house is still on the market with a few new images I know it's had minimal interest but of course being on the market this long that would only but make sense.
While I don't like to normally draw away from the reason to which this website is for but after the rough 6 months NZ has had with the Christchurch Earthquake and now the Mine disaster I would like to say this,
To the families, friends and the town of Greymouth area, those of the miners perished at Pike River Mine New Zealand. On behalf of all those involved in the Lake Alice Website, we wish to extend our heartfelt sympathy to the families and to the close knit community affected by the huge loss of life at the Pike River Mine. The world has been touched by this tragedy, you are all in our hearts and in our prayers. Our sincere condolences to you all.
Article here NZ Hearld
It seems it has come near a end for the many buildings and Villas. Villas 11 & 13 have been stripped and only now there shell remains, even the floor has been ripped up in parts of some of the buildings. It appears it's going to be a slow process for Old McDonald, but atleast it will feel like home upon completion. The Maximum hasn't been touched yet, but it's in a pretty bad shape on its own from the recent weather and mindless vandals. If your driving past don't forget that you can drive up past the Water Tower to have a nosey as that is all public access road in fact some of the road up to the left which is blocked off is also public access.
For photos scroll down to July's entry which has the Villas looking in a similar state as they do this month.
Don't forget to take a read of the interview below or a look at some of the old pictures of the Max.
This month we speak to CCHR researcher Victor Boyd on the Lake Alice abuses. He speaks about the ongoing issues effecting the case and gives us a update on the UN report.
Q. How and when did you get involved with the Lake Alice abuses?
A. I was living and working in Wanganui, my home town, which was a 25 minute car drive from the Hospital. I was 26 years old in 1977 when the first story broke about the 13 year old Niuean boy who’s parents had made a complaint about the ECT he had been receiving. Another young boy of about 18 who was working in the same place I was had been in Lake Alice there about two years previously and he told me a few things that went on that the staff had done to the child patients. I started to ask more questions of other people. Because I wasn’t in it for any money it was surprising who spoke to me and what information I got.
Q. The Citizens Commission on Human Rights has been campaigning for a long time about the abuses at the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit, there have been the payouts, what should happen now?
A. Firstly, there are people who have said to us who don’t think electric shocking little kids on their body parts as punishment should just be left alone. In 2001 The Royal College of Australia and New Zealand Psychiatrists wanted to see a proper inquiry done into it with findings. Since then some former staff have also spoken out about what happened.
Secondly, the Government has told former patients that what happened to them was wrong, but the former staff have not been told what they did was wrong. Unless this happens it signals that the conduct of the staff at Lake Alice was condoned by the Medical and Nursing Council’s, and Psychologist’s Board, which are statutory authorities. A Psychiatrist I spoke with a year ago about Lake Alice thinks that any scrutiny or criticism concerned with the diagnosing of healthy children, labelling them with a with a mental illness and administering painful electric shocks from an ECT machine on their body parts for punishment, is just ridiculing the Psychiatric profession. Yet the Government has just said in the report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture the events like that at Lake Alice were systemic abuse of children.
Q. We have a Patients Bill of Rights and a new Mental Health Act, what do you make of the changes?
A. Yes. Mainly for adults. But what about a young 9 year old being expected to understand about a full patients rights and complaints protocol? That’s unrealistic.
Look at what the Ombudsman investigated just last year; A case where a patient had been kept in constant restraint and seclusion for 6 years. A young intellectually disabled patient kept in ‘seclusion’ for a lengthy period, and a patient, ‘treated for some years without any apparent consent of any kind.’ It’s still going on despite a new mental health act. Just as important to everything else here, it appears that laws have to be passed to bring about safety and protection for patients against abuses by mental health staff. What about the statutory authorities properly investigating allegations with findings and proclaiming necessary changes? And these statutory authorities want to be self regulating organisations. It is appalling.
Q. Hasn’t shock treatment on children stopped?
A. Like the electric shocks as punishment for behaviour at Lake Alice? It appears so for now, in New Zealand. There are stories overseas where it is coming back; electric shocks for punishment. At Lake Alice after investigating just one case in 1977 to do with a young boy the Ombudsman made a strong suggestion that legislation be enacted to prohibit children receiving ECT unmodified. This has not come about and has been only superficially looked at. Psychiatry wants to have all the ease and credibility of making unscientific diagnosis,’ drugging, shocking, and injecting children, in the back pocket ready for use.
Q. Diagnosis and drugging (or medication, as it is nicely referred to?)
A. There is another big issue that was at Lake Alice and is still going on today. There were children put in Lake Alice who were perfectly healthy. They may have had behavioural difficulties/issues. (This is also covered in the report on the events at Lake Alice by Sir Rodney Gallen, a retired High Court Judge who interviewed 41 and read the statements of a further 44 former Lake Alice victims.) But you could say that about many people, Some would say Politicians at times have behavioural issues. Does it mean then that they should be given an immediate mental health assessment, diagnosed with a mental illness, treatment, and the information going on a data base? They would probably bring the lawyers in. Children don’t have these defences. Healthy young children were given a diagnosis and then treated. In the Statement of Claim for the first group of fifty six former LA patients in the 2001 civil action, included the claims; “No medical grounds established for admission to or for remaining at Lake Alice Hospital Incorrect or no proper diagnosis. No consent obtained from plaintiff and/or parents or guardians for treatment and/or medication or if obtained, not freely given, or fully informed.”These would be part of the question, ‘How come the kids were there in the first place?’ and form a strong basis of how the abuses came about. Remember in the year 2000 when the Crown Law considered the claims there were medical experts involved. (their fees were $39,934.) And then decided not defend the claims. The Government is in 2010 saying to the United Nations that the claims were clearly and factually established.
It’s very important. Children can be labelled for life. What happens later on, when little Johnny says he, ‘has thoughts of harming people, you put me on these drugs.’ Drug companies are now being sued for millions over their product.
Q. The payouts from the Government?
A. In around 2000, the Government spent $.5 million, including almost $40,000 on the medical experts trying to defend the claims. Several years later, the payouts began. The Government settled out of court with a general apology but without admitting any legal liability. The latest figures for 2010 are that $12.7 million have been paid out to 192 former victims of the abuses. If you’re a former mental health worker this is good. Salaries and wages were paid while abuses were committed against children. The complaints and concerns at the time were largely ignored or brushed off. Then they were bailed out of trouble by the taxpayer with the millions in payouts. A double whammy.
If you are a former victim having been on the receiving end of the abuses it isn’t so good. No one was held to account for what happened to them.
Q. What about the Australian investigation in 2006 regarding Dr Leeks?
A. In 2001 the Royal College of Australia and New Zealand Psychiatrists (RANZCP) issued a media statement calling for a successfully completed investigation into the conduct of the doctor who was in charge, They said, “This is the only way we will ever achieve a satisfactory resolution to this matter; for the former ‘patients’ first and foremost, but also for the doctor concerned and for the profession.” This hasn’t happened. We have recently asked them about this and they are avoiding the issue. The Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria investigated a number of complaints against the doctor from around twenty former patients.
After a four year investigation and obtaining an independent opinion from an esteemed professor of Child Psychiatry, in 2006 the Board compiled 40 charges/allegations against the doctor for a Formal Hearing of engaging in infamous conduct in a professional respect. The doctor resigned and the Board has directly violated its stated role of protecting the public by hearing and determining allegations when it accepted the doctor’s resignation without the Hearing taking place. The patients who complained cannot get documents about their complaint to see whether an independent medical opinion, corroborated or refuted their allegations.
Q. What is happening about the complaint to the United Nations Committee Against Torture?
A. In 2009 the UN Committee Against Torture did it’s Periodic Review of New Zealand’s obligations to the UN. One of the recommendations to the NZ Government involved how cases of historic abuse (ill-treatment/torture) of children in psychiatric hospitals were being handled. The United Nations requested the Government to provide a response within a year, which it did.Committee Recommendation 11. (This has to do with cases of historic abuses in psychiatric hospitals.)
(Attention is drawn to sections of the Government’s response/report which are about the Lake Alice abuses.)
“New Zealand Response.
The Government is committed to the investigation and resolution of allegations of torture or ill-treatment by the state.”
“ All affected agencies have commissioned research, as well as looking at individual claims, in order to satisfy themselves that there is no evidence of systemic failure as there was with the Lake Alice Psychiatric hospital claims.”
“…The Government was able to reach a view that the claimants’ personal statements and the medical records demonstrated that there had been improper treatment.”
“There are two key differences between the current psychiatric hospital claims and the Lake Alice claims which explain the different approach taken by the Government in addressing them. Firstly, the Lake Alice claimants’ allegations were factually clearly established.In the current claims, the factual allegations are generally contested. Second, the Lake Alice claimants’ allegations were substantially the same in that they related to treatment conditions in the child and Adolescent ward at Lake Alice, during the period 1972-1977 under the care of one particular doctor.”
The first part of the CCHR submission on this has been sent to the UN. The former patients have been told what happened to them at Lake Alice was wrong. The former staff have not been told what they did was wrong. The Government have made a general apology. There has been redress. There needs to be professional accountability now. In around October 2010 the United Nations then considers the responses it has received from the NZ Government and the NGO’s, (Non Government organisations.) Then we must await their reply.
If you would like to speak with Mr Boyd check out our contact page!
This month we have a special photo collection update, we have something you will probably never see anywhere else. 60 years ago this month the people of Marton and areas where welcoming a new industry into the Rangitikei with which it brought new growth to there community. This went well on until 1999, employing just as many locals as out of townees, many who still remain about today. August 1st 1950, 21 patients were admitted that first day. It wasn't until September 6 that another 27 followed. The Maximum Security Villa opened 1965 this would make it 45 years old.
These photos mainly of the Maximum, are taken before first in take, before the building was even used. For those who didn't know, before the Maximum was operated for the mentally ill it was utilized as a prison for almost 2 years! With many thanks to David Hyde for the images & the time he took speaking to me I thoroughly enjoyed hearing old stories, he was the CCTV technician until mid 70's.
Feel free to leave a comment :]
Later in the month the photos will be found on the Maximum page and the Gallery page where I will try to find a modern picture to compare them too.
Update for the month with recent photos of the hospital buildings. No news! Although Property Brokers still has the Admin block + land listed on there website. I don't know what Old McDonald's doing with the Villas but he's had the property now for over 19 months so anything's possible, after all he is from a small hick town.
It's been rather dead lately but next month is Lake Alice's 60 year anniversary,
that's all for now.
I've had a super busy month and while there could be things happening around Lake Alice I haven't seen the place this month myself so have no updates sorry.
I will have a update next month, it's just easier to do a blog whenever there's news from now on!
Leave a comment or drop me a message if you have any LA gossip ;)
I can't believe its the end of May already. I've had a few helpful updates lately which is great but over all it's a quiet month. Central dinning room is gone, Halls on it's way down and there is fire damage to the Maximum and Villa 12 which looks like it was deliberately lite (pyromaniac are we Old McDonald) I'd say our wee Lake Alice is slowly turning to grass. He is removing fixtures off the Villas so I guess this means he's decided not to renovate which is ashame as there nifty old buildings, actually I say old but there only about 55 years old. My house I live in is older!
No news on any sale of the admin block except it's still listed on the Property brokers website.
Check out the latest photos below they are a few weeks old now I wanted to wait and release them on the blog. You will need to ignore the moisture and dust orbs in the photos I tried to remove most of them. Thank you for your comments and visits keep em coming!!
Next month I'll talk about the UN report and where it's at...
Have a cosy winter
Slow month no word on the future of the Admin block which is meant to be sold and turned into a Backpackers, It is still listed on the Property brokers website still, so I can only assume perhaps the sale fell through?
The UN report (which is what all the recent news articles were about) does not have to be in until the end of May so I will follow that up in next months blog, this is a massive ordeal submitting a complaint rather costly & lengthy process, the public's support is much appreciated in this time. On that note I am very sad to say that one of the main Lake Alice activist's and survivor Kevin Banks is returning to live in Australia after being back in NZ since mid 2000's. Thank you to Kevin for his contribution to the website over the last year and a half. Best of luck in Aust!
Old McDonald has been very busy man on his farm, stripping back the Hall, removing the gib boards and floor boards (which are in pretty good condition) so he is obliviously trying to selvage what he can, at the same time he is also building himself a little retreat behind the Workshops for duck hunting season, home away from home. The word is that he is getting in demolition people in the next few months to come, believe it when I see it. I really don't think he will knock those resident Villas down as many of them are in good condition and he has asked around about getting developers in to look at doing them up.
Be weary of Old McDonald he doesn't want his precious floor boards stolen so is driving past the hospital each night. I swear he's a ex patient ;)
Thanks for reading,
Wow what a month March has turned out to be who would have thought the Police saying they would not be charging anyone for the abuse in the 1970's would cause so many news articles, check out the 'News articles page' for the latest articles. Paul Zentveld who was in LA in the adolescent unit has been doing a few interviews, I heard him on Radio Live earlier. TV One were interested.
So the Water Tower has been sold and is to be turned into a family home. Go grand designs! Will be interesting yet intriguing too see. Word is the Admin block has sold it will become a backpackers (although that is what it was marketed as) not much of a scary place to stay unlike the old Napier prison which was a backpackers now that's a thrill. Rest of the hospital still stands but I guess that will be coming dooooooown unless they can develop that into something soon!
Pictures below, 2 images of which were the old Nurses quarters which are now at Nga Tawa School in Marton. I will have to dig through to try and find pictures of the nurses quarters to see what they used to look like because it was a pretty big building & it appears only a small part has been moved to the school.
Thanks for reading,
This month I'm going to talk about what has being going on with the Past patient/Human Rights side of Lake Alice.
A complaint was logged with the police almost 10 years ago by ex patient's regarding the behavior of the staff of Lake Alice Hospital during the 1970's. Understand this was nothing to do with the compensation payouts this was because of the people who were abused want justice, they want those people who hurt them when they where children to be punished just like they had been. If you were abused as a child by anyone let alone someone of the medical profession you too would want justice served. It's simple someone takes the authority they have been given to care of 'sick' people and abuse that power. That is corrupt! This is not our society we should not treat one another like this, not then not now, Sadly it seems while time has gone by very little has changed. Even if what happened at Lake Alice was 30 odd years ago the government today should be making thing's right instead of blowing off the complaints.
So unfortunately it seems the police have decided even without speaking to former staff many who still practice, that for the children of Lake Alice there will be no justice. Superintendent Malcolm Burgess told former Adolescent Unit patient Kevin Banks today that it was very unlikely former staff would be prosecuted for having any part of there physical and sexual abuse as well as the infamous unmodified ETC, while working at Lake Alice. This means former head of the Unit Selwyn Leeks who was responsible for ECT being administered is a free man, along with a long list of former nurses who still live in the Manawatu-Rangitikei. Who would have thought so many who worked there in the 70's abusing young people would remain in Marton years on, boy they must have some gut's. At least they would have got there property for a bargain!
No update on the security around the place, although a few 'chilling' comments from people who have taken the big jump over the fence. Ah they make me smile =]
No word on the sale of the old Admin building, previous caretakers house, Water tower and land that is for sale. Few small news articles have claimed there has been 'strong interest', although I haven't followed that one up yet. Good luck to the new owners.
That's all for now might add more over the next week if I get the pictures sorted of the old Nurses quarters which is now accommodation at Nga Tawa girls school or that will be in next months blog. Make sure to leave a comment if you've been near the hospital lately!
Thanks for reading,
Lake Alice Blog