Glenside Hospital, as it was known from 1967, previously the Public Colonial Lunatic Asylum of South Australia, Parkside Lunatic Asylum and Parkside Mental Hospital, was a complex of buildings used as a psychiatric hospital in Glenside, South Australia.[1]

Since the 1970s the original site has been subdivided and parcels of land sold off, largely for housing.[1] The large administration building fronting the side was refurbished to house the Adelaide Studios of the South Australian Film Corporation in 2011. The site is still referred to as "the old Glenside Hospital" or the "Glenside Hospital historical precinct".[2]

As of April 2019, Glenside Health Services, a mental health unit for acute care, psychiatric intensive care and inpatient rehabilitation run by SA Health still operates on part of the site.[3]

History of the hospital

Parkside Mental Hospital, ca. 1925

The Public Colonial Lunatic Asylum of South Australia was founded at the site in 1846 as the state's first purpose-run asylum to house residents deemed mentally ill. It was run more like a farm than a hospital, and housed patients deemed too mentally unwell to be housed in the Adelaide Gaol. It operated until 1852, when the Adelaide Lunatic Asylum opened on the eastern side of the old Royal Adelaide Hospital (now Lot Fourteen), on land now part of the Adelaide Botanic Garden,[4] and the Glenside site was not used for such purposes for another 18 years.[1]

It reopened as Parkside Lunatic Asylum in 1870, housing the chronically mentally ill as well as people nearing the end of their lives, those suffering from undiagnosed illnesses, unmarried women with children and prostitutes.[1][2] The morgue for the asylum was a building in the Adelaide Botanic Garden.[5][6][4][7][8]

The institution was renamed Parkside Mental Hospital in 1913 at the time of changes in the Mental Health Act 1913, when it was classified as both a receiving and a mental hospital. The large administration building became the receiving hospital and the other buildings were used for long-term patients. The infamous "Z Ward" housed the criminally and mentally insane. Parkside was also referred to as "The Bin".[1][2]

Erindale Secure Ward for Males, a lower security unit than the Z Ward, was built in 1877 and The Elms in 1880 to house female patients, although later used for elderly men, then as a Domestic Training Unit and for Music Therapy.[2]

Residency of Parkside Lunatic Asylum peaked at 1,769 in 1958. The facility was renamed Glenside Hospital in 1967.[1]

Other uses of the site

From the 1970s onwards, with falling numbers and changing methods of treatment, the original site was progressively sold off, largely for housing, and some of the historic buildings refurbished for use by organisations such as SA Health, PIRSA and ArtsSA.[1] The main administration building has housed the South Australian Film Corporation since 2011,[2] and 2.14 hectares of the original site was sold to Beach Energy in 2014.[9]

Current mental health facilities

In 2012, Stage 1 of a series of a transformation of the old facilities, with a Specialist Rehabilitation Inpatient Unit, Helen Mayo House and Shared Activities Centre (SHAC) housing up to 46 patients was completed. In total, the facilities were planned to include 129 individual living units, plus 20 supported accommodation units and a 15-bed intermediate care centre.[10] By 2016 the hospital had only 119 beds.[9]

In May 2019, an independent review conducted by two interstate experts and a representative of the Chief Psychiatrist’s office found “attitudes and practices that are not in line with contemporary thinking” were prevalent in the ten-year-old 40-bed Inpatient Rehabilitation Service (IRS), as well as a building design unsuitable for longer-term residents. Intensive monitoring would continue until standards were met.[11][12]

In July 2019 it was announced that ten new forensic mental health beds had opened a dedicated Forensic Secure Inpatient Unit at Glenside. A model of care specific to the facility had been developed,d and the state's Chief Psychiatrist, Dr John Brayley, had approved the facility.[13]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Williamson, Brett (11 August 2011). "Inside Glenside: A history of mental health in Adelaide". ABC 891 Adelaide. Adelaide: Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Glenside Hospital Historical Precinct". Weekend Notes. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  3. ^ "Mental Health Services". SA Health. 2 April 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Adelaide Lunatic Asylum Morgue". WeekendNotes. 10 January 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  5. ^ "Adelaide Botanic Garden - former Lunatic Asylum Morgue". Adelaidepedia. 9 April 2020. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  6. ^ "Adelaide Lunatic Asylum Morgue". WeekendNotes. 10 January 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  7. ^ "7 heritage places in SA you might not know about". Government of South Australia. Department for Environment and Water. 4 October 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  8. ^ Walsh, Ashley (16 May 2013). "Hospital history in the botanic garden". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  9. ^ a b The dark, disturbing past of Glenside’s Z Ward, the lunatic asylum, Adelaide Now, April 24, 2016
  10. ^ Williamson, Brett (27 November 2012). "Inside the new Glenside mental health facilities". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  11. ^ Fedorowytsch, Tom (5 May 2019). "Staff at Glenside mental health service work in 'survival mode', new report finds". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  12. ^ Richardson, Tom (5 May 2019). "Patient care at Glenside under scrutiny after damning review". In Daily. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  13. ^ Wade, Stephen (17 July 2019). "New forensic beds to ease pressure on EDs". Government of South Australia. Dept of the Premier and Cabinet (Stephen Marshall's page). Retrieved 8 November 2019.

Coordinates: 34°56′35″S 138°37′30″E / 34.943°S 138.625°E / -34.943; 138.625