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Faith saved Sue Treweek from ‘hell’

Faith saved Sue Treweek from ‘hell’

By Emilie Ng

INSTITUTIONALISED care almost killed Brisbane woman Sue Treweek as a young child.

But the 49-year-old said her Catholic faith was the reason she is alive.

Ms Treweek’s testimony of assault and unjustified institutionalisation is one of many featured in travelling showing at the Queensland Museum until November 17.

She said her education stopped at 12, when she was sent to the adult mental institution Osler House, despite professional assessments showing she had “no underlying psychiatric issues”.

During her 10 years at Olser House, Ms Treweek was raped and, after giving birth to her son, was forced to put him up for adoption.

She said her admission to Osler House was like being “sent to hell”.

“The only reason I survived was because of my faith,” she said.

“They could take everything from me, but not my faith.

“When they locked me up in the isolation cells, and took my clothes off, I would sing, ‘Jesus loves the children’.”

Ms Treweek escaped Osler House in 1988 and lived in the bush, despite not knowing how to live outside the walls of the institutions she had called home.

In 2000, she met recently retired Brisbane priest Fr Wally Dethlefs, who championed the Queensland inquiry into institutionalised care.

Ms Treweek said Fr Dethlefs helped her heal from the many abuses and assaults during her life.

Fr Dethlefs is featured in the Inside exhibition at the Queensland Museum.

“He’s actually been a strong link to my faith, because he was the first person I could talk to about my faith,” Ms Treweek said.

“He taught me to talk about what had happened and he helped me walk away from it all.

“God didn’t do all those things, it was just the people involved.

“They will answer for what they’ve done, and I can’t be vengeful because the bitterness would just eat me up.”

Ms Treweek is involved with the Adopt-a-Family annual appeal for Christmas.

She was reunited with her son Will, now 30, almost seven years ago.

Written by: Emilie Ng
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