The RAHS YouTube Channel features a range of video presentations from our contributors to the Beyond the Blue Mountains: Following the Road from Bathurst project, as well as podcasts from our regular history lecture series.

Our latest YouTube release: The Derby Leprosarium and its Aboriginal Inmates – Dr Charmaine Robson

Derby Leprosarium

Sister checking smear, Derby Leprosarium, 1948. [State Library of Western Australia, Stuart Gore Collection, 022265PD]

In 1936, when Hansen’s disease (leprosy) in the Kimberley region of Western Australia became a cause for concern to state and federal governments, a leprosarium was built near the town of Derby for the detention and treatment of Indigenous people with the disease. Over the next fifty years, at least 1200 were sent to Derby under mandatory detention laws, hundreds of whom died while there, or spent decades as inmates. This talk takes us inside the leprosarium to explore both the hardships this policy inflicted on the patients and the part played by the Catholic Sisters who were their nurses in shaping institutional life.

Charmaine Robson has a PhD in Australian history and teaches at the University of New South Wales. She is writing a book on the history of Hansen’s disease in Indigenous Australians.

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