On Tuesday 10 December 2019, the Mental Health Commission of New South Wales held a memorial to acknowledge and remember the lives of former residents of the Gladesville Psychiatric Hospital on Victoria Road in Gladesville, NSW. The Gladesville Hospital Cemetery is the final resting place of more than 1,200 former patients and several staff. Almost all the graves are unmarked — an indication of the high level of ignorance and shame that pervaded attitudes towards those who experienced mental health issues in the past.
The historic memorial ceremony was an opportunity to offer respect to those whose remains are here in unmarked graves, as well as former residents buried elsewhere. This is also the first time many of these people have been formally recognised. We also pay respects to people who lived and died at other hospitals and institutions and those still alive today. Our community acknowledges their journeys of suffering, distress and abandonment.
Gladesville Hospital Cemetery Memorial Video
A video was created as part of the Gladesville Hospital Cemetery Memorial (right). It includes footage from the event of the formal proceedings and the hospital grounds, as well as interviews with Catherine Lourey, NSW Mental Health Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner's Tom Brideson and Tim Heffernan, mental health activist and ex-patient, Janet Meagher AM, Benjamin Graham, memorial attendee, Janet Pelosi, historian, and Maureen Copley, member of the Ryde District Historical Society. The video was produced by a lived experience videographer - Mostly Mad Music.
Former residents of Gladesville Hospital
Gladesville Hospital is the final resting place of more than 1,200 former patients and several staff of the old hospital at Gladesville. We pay our respects to those named and those whose names have not yet been identified, and also to people buried elsewhere. Over 900 names have been attributed to people buried on this site.
View the list of names of the former residents and staff who died at Gladesville Hospital.
Stories of strength and resilience
As part of this project, a selection of former residents and ancestors of former residents have shared their experiences in a series of personal stories - please click on the tiles below to read the stories. These stories are poignant reminder that all lives must be respected and valued and we must never again allow vulnerable people to be abandoned, devalued, and hidden away. Instead we must focus on hope, recovery, support, and inclusion.
If you have a personal story that you would like to share, please contact the Commission on firstname.lastname@example.org
History of Gladesville Hospital
Initially known as the Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum (1838-1868), the hospital was renamed Gladesville Hospital for the Insane (1868-1914) and finally known as Gladesville Hospital (1915-1993). When the asylum opened in 1838, women were transferred from the Liverpool Asylum and the Parramatta Female Factory. In 1839, male patients were transferred here from the Liverpool Asylum, which then closed. From the 1980s, NSW began in earnest to reform mental health services. There was recognition that institutional service models could not be justified in a humane society. Gladesville Hospital was closed in 1993. Currently the buildings serve the community as offices for government agencies and community- managed organisations. To learn more about the history of Gladesville Hospital, visit:
The Mental Health Commission of New South Wales wishes to acknowledge the hard work, dedication and time given by all the members of the cemetery memorial project co-design group. The Commission also wishes to acknowledge the work of NSW Ministry of Health for their part in closing the road through the cemetery and erecting signage, carrying out restoration work on monuments and the path, and planting the firewheel tree in memory of those who are buried on site. We also wish to acknowledge the work of local historical groups who have been carrying out research to discover the names of the people who are buried on this site to help restore dignity and show respect for their lives. Thanks also go to the Joubert Singers and artists who helped to make the memorial ceremony a respectful and memorable event.
Pictured left: Catherine Lourey, NSW Mental Health Commissioner, Janet Meagher AM and Pamela Rutledge, Deputy NSW Mental Health Commissioner, December 2019