Ararat Asylum, 1867–1905; Hospital for the Insane 1905–34; Mental Hospital 1934–97; Training Centre 1966–93
In 1863, Ararat and Beechworth were chosen as sites for country asylums. In 1867, the Ararat Asylum officially opened.
Since its establishment, the title of the institution at Ararat has been altered several times, reflecting both the community's changing attitude towards mental illness and the Victorian Government’s approach to the treatment of mental illness. Despite these changes, the function and structure of the agency did not significantly alter and the institution has been registered as one continuous agency.
In 1886, the old Ararat gaol was proclaimed J Ward of the asylum. J Ward housed ‘criminal and dangerous’ male patients under maximum security. J Ward was intended as a temporary solution, but it nonetheless continued for more than 100 years. In the 1970s, J Ward still housed more than 40 very disturbed and sometimes dangerous patients.
From 1905, the asylum was re-named Ararat Hospital for the Insane. In 1934, it became Ararat Mental Hospital. In 1958, a local community competition resulted in the Mental Health Authority adopting the name Aradale, but this name was never formalised.
In 1966, parts of Ararat Mental Hospital became Ararat Training centre. Mental hospital residents continued as patients. Patients identified as having an intellectual disability were reclassified as trainees.
This situation continued for another 25 years until around 1991 when J Ward closed and, in its place, the Ararat Forensic Psychiatry Centre opened – a medium security facility with 20 beds.
By 1993, all hospital patients and centre trainees were relocated to various community-based housing facilities. In April 1994, the Ararat/Aradale Mental Hospital and Training Centre were decommissioned. Only the Forensic Psychiatry Centre remained.
In 1997, the Ararat Forensic Psychiatry Centre closed and the remaining patients were transferred to the Rosanna Forensic Centre at Mont Park in Melbourne.
Warning about distressing information
This guide contains information that some people may find distressing. If you experienced abuse as a child or young person in an institution mentioned in this guide, it may be a difficult reading experience. Guides may also contain references to previous views, policies and practices that are regrettable and do not reflect the current views, policies or practices of the department or the State of Victoria. If you find this content distressing, please consult with a support person either from the Department of Health and Human Services or another agency.
Please note that the content of administrative histories is provided for general information only and does not purport to be comprehensive. The department does not guarantee the accuracy of the administrative histories.
- Ararat Mental Hospital (“Aradale”) Centenary Souvenir Booklet, 1967
- PROV website, agency history for VA 2841, Ararat (Asylum 1867–1905; Hospital for the Insane 1905–34; Mental Hospital 1934–ct), viewed 31 August 2016.
- Annual reports of the Mental Health Authority for various years.
- Department of Health and Human Services agency history files.
- DHS media release, 21/10/1997
Download Ararat Asylum collection guide
Reviewed 24 April 2019