Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Project (Australia)

Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Association promotes awareness about the history, heritage and legacy of institutionalisation in Australia. Building on the foundational work of Parragirls support network and contact register, the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Memory Project conducts social history and contemporary art programs, events and exhibitions and regularly participates in conferences and symposiums in Australia and internationally. Central to this is activating the precinct as Australia’s first Site of Conscience in a shared commitment to ‘Never Again.’

Based at the former Parramatta Girls Home, the Memory Project has transformed this once inaccessible site into a place of shared memory and belonging that connects past to present by engaging the Forgotten Australians and Stolen Generations of its former institutions to participate in how they are remembered and empowering them to determine how the site might be used in the future.

Site Description:

Located about 20 kilometers west of Sydney, the historic Parramatta Female Factory Precinct covers an area of approximately 16 acres and is the location of Australia’s first purpose built convict Female Factory (1821-1847) and government owned Roman Catholic Orphanage (1844-1886). Both these institutions have been repurposed over time with the Female Factory re-assigned as a Lunatic Asylum in 1847 and the Roman Catholic Orphan School as the Parramatta Girls Industrial School (Home) in 1887, then in 1980 until 2010 as the Norma Parker Detention Centre for Women.

Long before the institutions were built this area has belonged to the Indigenous Burramatta people of the Darug nation. Parramatta Female Factory Precinct is among the most significant sites of containment in Australia and has been in continuous use as a place of confinement since 1821, firstly for convict women, then orphaned, destitute or abandoned children, juvenile offenders, the mentally ill and – until recently – female prisoners.

As the birthplace of a system of care where the first forced removal of children from their mothers was set out in the rules and regulations of the Female Factory in 1821, the historic institutions of the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct hold particular significance in the Australian narrative for the Forgotten Australians and Stolen Generations.

The institutions of the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct offer a rare insight into the emergence and evolution of a system of care which routinely and without remorse, violated the human rights of women, children and people with mental or cognitive impairements. This is a history of Australia so seldom spoken and which, in recent decades, has been the focus of several government inquiries including: Bringing them Home Report (1997), Lost Innocents: Righting the Record: Report on Child Migration (2001), Forgotten Australians: A Report on Australians who experienced institutional or out-of-home care as children (2004), and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (2017).

Today this historic precinct faces the threat of inappropriate and unsympathetic development where in proposals made in the Parramatta North Urban Transformation plan, buildings will be demolished and the historic lands of the Parramatta Girls Home/Roman Catholic Orphan School sub-divided to make way for new hi rise residential apartments.

Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Project (Australia)
1c Fleet Street
North Parramatta NSW, 2150