Inside Glenside’s Z-Ward

On Wednesday 2 June, our 2 English Studies and 2 Psychology classes took part in an interdisciplinary year 12 excursion to Z-Ward, a historically valuable heritage building and prison for South Australia’s “criminally insane”, open from 1885 to 1973.

The purpose of this excursion (other than to experience valuable learning outside of the school) was for psychology students to learn about the history of mental illness, stigma, and treatments over time. For our English Studies students, the purpose was to engage in an immersive creative writing experience in the hopes that it may inspire some students writing of their descriptive text creation assessment piece.

The building’s historical significance sees it now in the care of the SA National History Trust. Our students undertook a tour of the Z Ward and yard with Graeme, who talked in depth about historical health treatments, the building architecture and stories of inmates in the time period. The students also undertook immersive creative writing exercises led by Helen Lawry in what would have been the Z Ward recreation room.

Whilst cold and eerie, the beauty and significance of the building will be remembered by our students and hopefully provide students with an interesting historical perspective.