Acknowledgement : a social journalism research project relating to the history of lock hospitals, lazarets and other forms of medical incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

  • Melissa Sweet

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The punitive surveillance, segregation and traumatisation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in relation to contagious diseases affected multiple generations. A thematic examination of colonisation shows that the medical incarceration of people in lock hospitals and lazarets, often on islands, represents an archetypal example of the role of healthcare in colonisation. For almost a century from the late 1800s, people were surveilled and incarcerated for infectious diseases, particularly sexually transmissible infections and leprosy, in multiple sites across Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland. This PhD investigated these histories of medical incarceration within a transdisciplinary, participatory action research framework, with a particular focus on lock hospitals that operated on Bernier and Dorre Islands, via Carnarvon in Western Australia, from 1908 to 1919. It interweaves works of social journalism practice and research in a transformative, reflexive cycle of dynamic knowledge exchange between research and practice. The key research aims were: (1) to develop a decolonising framework for journalism practice; and (2) to examine how its implementation affected the processes and outcomes of journalism practice in investigating the lock hospital histories and their contemporary relevance. This PhD has thus had a dual focus: to develop a framework for decolonising self, practice and wider spheres at the same time and as part of works of journalism research and practice. The thesis concludes that the development and implementation of the decolonising framework led to transformative changes across multiple spheres, while acknowledging that this work represents the beginning rather than the end of a journey. It makes recommendations for policy and practice across diverse settings, including for a national Day of Acknowledgement for the health sector to recognise its historic and ongoing role in colonisation. This is envisaged as a platform for promoting transformative, decolonising change in policy, practice, discourse and everyday actions in diverse spheres.
    Date of Award2017
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorKerry Mccallum (Supervisor), Matthew Ricketson (Supervisor) & Kate Holland (Supervisor)

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