Barracks Willow Court, New Norfolk, Tasmania, Australia

Willow Court is the oldest, continually run asylum located in the Island State of Tasmania, Australia and had its heritage start before 1827. This is older than the well-known and well visited Port Arthur Historic Site. Asylums like Willow Court that once segregated and housed people with disabilities and mentally ill have lain empty and often unused for the last decade.

As the Social Model of care was rolled out the vacating of these institutions began. Tasmania was the first state in Australia to de-institutionalise all of the people it housed and closed the doors of Willow Court/Royal Derwent Hospital in late 2000. This social experiment was watched by other states in Australia, which also had started their own journey of de-institutionalisation.

Communities were left with large complexes and equally large maintenance bills, often to much for small municipal councils or state governments to bear through their rate payer/tax payer base.

Theft, arson and vandalism all added to already growing problems of natural decay. This is the story of Willow Court in New Norfolk, Tasmania, a peaceful township on the banks of the Derwent River 30 km from Hobart.

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