The future of Peat Island
Our voice is needed!
People with disability have not been consulted on the future of Peat Island.
Peat Island is an important place for many people. Aboriginal communities, the local community and people with disability and their families.
We want the NSW Government to stop its plan to develop Peat Island.
The government must respect what happened to people with disability there.
People with disability must have a say in the decisions about Peat Island.
Where is Peat Island?
Peat Island is an eight hectare island on the Hawkesbury River on the Central Coast in NSW.
From 1911 to 2010 the NSW State Government operated a disability institution on Peat Island that segregated and incarcerated people with disability and caused people with disability to be exposed to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.
There has never been a government apology or offer of compensation for this incarceration and abuse and people with disability continue to live with that history. At the same time, people who lived on Peat Island demonstrated resilience and survival, built communities within their circumstances, and formed lasting friendships. For the people with disability who lived at Peat Island, and for many it was almost the entirety of their lives, this site was their ‘home’.
Peat Island provides a place where the public could learn about, and reckon with, disability institutionalisation. The formal recognition of this site as a community space would provide an opportunity to learn and celebrate the resilience shown by the people who lived there. People with disability and their families could remember experiences of institutionalisation and the site could be a place for communal remembrance.
Instead the NSW Government wants to rezone Peat Island for tourism purposes.
If Peat Island is rezoned for tourism, it will be able to be used for holiday accommodation, corporate functions and weddings. This proposal is insensitive to the depth and complexity of the experience of people with disability at Peat Island over 99 years.
If Peat Island is redeveloped, its disability history will be erased and the message will again be that those who lived there’s history does not matter.
What we want for the future of Peat Island
We call on the NSW Government to immediately withdraw its rezoning proposal and enter into a process of co-design with the disability community, the connected First Nations community and other representatives of the local community about an appropriate future use of Peat Island. This includes the possible option of its use as a site of conscience, where people could go to learn and reckon with Peat Island’s past and celebrate the resilience and activism of people with disability
Read the full submission for more information.
Our Submission and Open Letter
What the media is saying
What you can do
Please phone or email the Premier and the following Ministers and ask them to call for the Peat Island planning proposal to be withdrawn and to enter into a process of co-design with the disability community, the connected First Nations community and other representatives of the local community about an appropriate future use of Peat Island.
Minister for Lands and Water – Hon Kevin Anderson
Minister for Families, Communities & Disability Services – Hon Natasha Maclaren-Jones
Minister for Planning – Hon Anthony Roberts