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

In November 2016 RAHS Guest Speaker Dr Charmaine Robson was kind enough to allow us to record her presentation ‘The Derby Leprosarium and its Aboriginal Inmates’, which we can now share with our members and friends on the RAHS YouTube Channel.

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.

Don’t forget to subscribe while you are there, so you don’t miss an upload as it happens! We would like to thank Charmaine for being part of our Day Lecture series for 2016.

Our first FREE Day Lecture for 2017 will be ‘Enterprise and Diversity: Greek-Australian Occupational Pursuits, 1810s to Present’ with Historian Leonard Janiszewski – Wednesday 1st February @ 1pm – 2pm

Click here to book online or call (02) 9247 8001 – this lecture is filling up fast.


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