Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Named National Site
For ten years UTS staff and students have worked with Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Association to build a body of work to support the heritage recognition of Parramatta Female Factory Precinct in the face of increasing pressure from NSW Government’s development plans for the three-hectare site near Parramatta CBD.
Yesterday the Australian Government announced that the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct - a place of incarceration and confinement of more than 30,000 women, children and Indigenous Australians from 1818 to 2008 - was inscribed as a National Heritage site.
Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said the listing would, "allow the Australian community to stand witness to the lives and experiences of women and children who lived there.”
The Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Association is a non-profit organisation established by the ‘Parragirls,’ former inmates of the Parramatta Girls Home, to promote the heritage of the precinct.
In 2007, Parragirls founder Bonney Djuric OAM contacted UTS’s community-engagement program Shopfront, to ask for help in compiling a history of the precinct. Within months, UTS Communication/Law student, Clare Butler began researching the Female Factory and addressing the criteria to nominate the site for state and national heritage listing. The first national nomination was submitted by Bonney Djuric in November 2011.
For her work, Clare received a 2008 Alumni Award along with a team of Visual Communication students who photographed the site and mapped its various uses over time.
As part of a long term program to support the heritage preservation of the precinct, UTS students and staff worked on six further projects through UTS Shopfront, and organised an international symposium. This led to the publication of the book, Silent Systems: Forgotten Australians and Incarcerated Women and Children edited by Paul Ashton and Jacqui Wilson.
The Female Factory was established in 1818 and was the first destination of all unassigned convict women transported to colonial Australia. The precinct also includes the former Roman Catholic Orphan School and Parramatta Girls Home, where 30,000 orphans and state wards were confined from 1844 to 1983. Their mental, physical and sexual abuse was detailed in testimony to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Bonney Djuric OAM says, “My quest to make change comes from a desire that the rampant institutionalisation of people never happens again.”
“The Precinct bears witness to the evolution of a system of incarceration for women, children and the mentally ill from early colonial times to the present day, where the purpose and promise of care was far from the reality.”
UTS Adjunct Professor Paul Ashton says, “The Parramatta Female Factory Precinct stands as a legacy of multiple and contested histories of Australian women and children, and the formalisation and emergence of Australian welfare and justice systems.”
“UTS has contributed much to build up the body of work that supports the heritage values and significance of the site,” he says, “So we were very happy to hear the news yesterday that the precinct has been named one of Australia’s most important heritage sites.”
UTS:Law senior lecturer and Law|Health|Justice member Doctor Linda Steele is also currently undertaking research with the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Memory Project to explore the precinct as a Site of Conscience to contemporary law and policy making on children and women’s institutionalisation.
Linda Steele says, “We are interested in how the Site of Conscience can continue and to build upon the work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.”
“Particularly on how the Site of Conscience can provide opportunities for redress and violence prevention on a systemic level and in a sustainable and ongoing way.”
UTS Shopfront is a service that matches community organisations with the expertise available within the University of Technology Sydney. The deadline to submit a community project to UTS Shopfront for first semester is January 31. Click here for more information or to apply.