Heritage Information

National Heritage

Parramatta Female Factory Precinct is now being assessed for National Heritage Listing. The Australian Heritage Council is seeking written comments on whether the PFFP should be included on the National List and/or meets any of the National Heritage criteria.

Written comments must be made by 23 September 2016

Write to:

Australian Heritage Council

GOP Box 787


or by email to:



The Council considers that the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct might have National Heritage significance for its ability to tell the stories of women and children in care or confined to institutions over the course of one hundred and fifty years of Australian history. The precinct might also have the potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of the lives of convict women in early colonial Australia and institutionalised children during the 19th and 20th centuries. For the purposes of National Heritage listing, the Council is also considering whether the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct has a special association with Forgotten Australians and Stolen Generations, or whether institutionalised women and children have outstanding importance in Australia's cultural history. 

What would National Heritage listing mean?

National Heritage listing is an acknowledgement of the importance of a place, it does not change land tenure or ownership. If included on the National Heritage List, the National Heritage values of the listed place will be protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

General Description

Parramatta Female Factory Precinct is an institutional complex established during the early part of the 19th century for the purposes of administering female convicts and orphaned or destitute children. It is situated about 3 kilometres north of the Parramatta CBD on approximately 56 acres bounded by the Parramatta River, Fleet Street, New Street and the Parramatta Gaol.The Precinct represents two historic sites namely the Female Factory (Cumberland Hospital) and the Roman Catholic Orphan School (Norma Parker Centre/Kamballa) comprising of more than 72 buildings, built landforms, structural features, intact sub-floor deposits, open deposits and scatters and individual artefacts which have the potential to yield information relating to major historic themes including Aboriginal post-contact, Convict, Cultural Sites, Environment, Industry, Government and Administration, Health and Welfare. Landscape currently consists of park like open space with significant nineteenth-century landscape elements and structures and its location reinforces the physical links and historical associations with neighbouring institutional and recreational facilities including Parramatta Park, Old Government House and Parramatta Gaol.

Several of the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct buildings and structures are included on the State Heritage List.

Convict Female Factory

The Female Factory is of exceptional significance as Australia’s first and largest female convict site and as an early institutional complex that adapted and developed through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to accommodate changing philosophies in the provision of mental health services, child welfare and corrective services. The site has been associated with women through every part of Australia’s history and its institutions reflect larger societal attitudes on morality, welfare, reform and punishment. The Female Factory is an exceptionally rare example of a 19th century female convict establishment which exemplifies the influence of English prison reformers such as John Howard and Elizabeth Fry in an Australian context. It played a central role in the peopling of Australia in the early colonial period.

Parramatta Lunatic Asylum

The buildings and spatial arrangements of the later Lunatic Asylum period demonstrate the basic conditions typical of mental health facilities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Other features include separate accommodation for men, women and children, purpose built criminal insane wards, and planting of native and exotic species in an attempt to 'humanise' the place.

Roman Catholic Orphan School & Parramatta Girls Industrial School

The Roman Catholic Orphan School is a rare example of a 19th century barrack style child welfare institution. Its establishment testifies to the impact of convictism on families and its later use as a Girls Industrial School reflects changing attitudes in the provision of welfare and education to children over a period of 140 years. This site retains considerable existing fabric with the dormitory buildings, kitchen, dining, recreation, laundry and ablution blocks of the Orphan School demonstrate the basic conditions typical of child welfare institutions and retain a strong sense of what the institutional experience would have been like.

World Heritage List

Parramatta Female Factory Precinct must be included on the National Heritage List before it can be  nominated  by the Australian Government for World Heritage Listing UNESCO.

PGh PNUR fleet st signage

Imagining the Future

Parramatta Female Factory Precinct is subject to Urban Growth NSW, Parramatta North Urban Transformation program. Many of its 20th century buildings and structures will be demolished to make way for new residential hi rise and commercial development throughout the site.

Heritage Repair Work has begun on the PGH/RCOS main building to stabilise the building, re-roof and repair walls, windows, timberwork and floors.

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PGH PNUR repair work sign