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Parramatta Female Factory Institutions Precinct

Located on the traditional lands of the Burramattagal clan of the Darug, Parramatta Female Factory Precinct is Australia's foremost historical site of institutional confinement.

 

Dating back to 1821, this national heritage precinct covers an area of 7.3 hectares where the adjacent historic institutions of the Roman Catholic Orphan School and later Parramatta Girls Home (site 1) and the convict built Parramatta Female Factory and later Parramatta Invalid & Lunatic Asylum (site 2) are situated.

Over time the hidden histories of these institutions have been revealed. Most recently by the Royal commission into child sexual abuse and in 2022, the NSW government dedicated a memorial to recognise and pay tribute to children who were abused at Parramatta Girls Home.

 

Today the child welfare institutions of this precinct are recognised as foundational in the history and narrative of Australia for those who experienced institutional care as children, or who were forcibly removed from their families known as the Stolen Generation and the Forgotten Australians. As many of these people have had a family it is highly likely that every Australian either was, is related to, works with or knows someone who experienced childhood in an institution or out-of-home care environment.

Parramatta Female Factory

Once the destination of unassigned convict women to the penal colony of New South Wales, Parramatta Female Factory operated from 1821 to 1847. Today an estimated 2 million Australians are descended from these women.

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Parramatta Lunatic Asylum

Established as an Asylum for Lunatic and Invalid convicts in 1847, Parramatta Lunatic Asylum was officially gazetted as a public asylum in 1849. Now Cumberland Hospital, this institutional complex features buildings and structures from the 19th and early 20th century period. 

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Roman Catholic Orphan School

Australia's first purpose-built government owned orphanage for Catholic children operated here from 1844 to 1886. 

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Parramatta Girls Home

Initially known as Parramatta Girls Industrial School, Parramatta Girls Home was the principal child welfare institution for girls in NSW from 1887 to 1974. Renamed Kamballa & Taldree Children's Shelter in 1974 it closed in 1983. From 1980 to 2011 a section of the site operated as the Norma Parker Detention Centre for Women.

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Memory Project ~ past to present - memory to action

Since 2007 former residents of the Parramatta Girls Home, known today as Parragirls, have been protecting, preserving and promoting this institutional precinct. In 2011 we launched the Memory Project to activate this precinct as Australia's first Site of Conscience so that its history, heritage and legacy are not forgotten.