Laurie’s connection to Mont Park came in three different periods. In the early 1950s, as a ten year old, Laurie would travel from Wangaratta to visit his uncle who was a store keeper at Mont Park. His uncle would take Laurie and the other nephews and nieces to Mont Park where they rode the trucks, and looked in the store, and had all sorts of fun there. Laurie’s first impressions of Mont Park were ‘how spread out it was. The Mont Park area, as it was originally, spread from Macleod railway station to where La Trobe University is now, across Plenty Rd and included what is now Bundoora Park – a huge area’.
In 1968 Laurie joined the Public Service in the Mental Health Authority or in those days, the Mental Hygiene Branch. He was posted to Mont Park as a junior clerk. His role, for the first year, was to cost all the scripts that came from all the different institutions in the area – tedious, manual work although he did ‘have the help of an adding machine’. After a number of years of different postings in the Public Service, he came back in 1983 as Deputy Manager and shortly after that became Manager of Mont Park until 1991. During that period for over ten years, Laurie and his family, lived on the grounds in one of the staff residences. In 1991 all the hospitals were amalgamated into an organisation called NEMPS – North Eastern Metropolitan Psychiatric Services. He worked as the Financial Director, for that group, until 1995, when Mont Park, and all the other hospitals closed.
In the oral history interview we have recorded with Laurie, he tells many stories which demonstrate his vast experience of the mental health system and of Mont Park. His commitment to Mont Park, his good humour and sense of calm realism make for engaging listening. Laurie’s accounts of Mont Park from the late 1960s to 1995 are a significant part of the overall story.
Laurie has, in 2017, been conducting talks and tours of the remaining buildings which are part of the La Trobe University, for Open House Melbourne and for a number of other interested groups. These have been very well received and will continue.
Our thanks go to Laurie for becoming such a well – versed and generous participant in the Springthorpe Mont Park Project and for agreeing to release his interview through the project’s management team and allow excerpts on our website.