Parramatta Female Factory future secure with $54M grant

THE State Govt will spend almost $54m to secure the future of the Parramatta Female Factory and to develop an arts and cultural precinct in the area.

The Govt announced the $53.8m commitment to secure, restore and preserve the culture, heritage and future use of the Female Factory precinct site. The Female Factory was built to house female convicts in the colony.

Minister for Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the significant funding showed the Government’s commitment to preserving the State’s rich history.

“This is a landmark moment in our state’s history. The Parramatta Female Factory is an extraordinary site, a place of Aboriginal and colonial culture and heritage significance. It is a site of living history and memory for many people, particularly those with connections to the many institutions that operated here,” Mr Ayres said.

“There is something very special about respectful repurposing of restored heritage buildings to launch Western Sydney into the future.”

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and the Arts Don Harwin said the funding would enable the Government to plan the transformation of the Female Factory into a public museum and plan the development of an arts and cultural precinct for Western Sydney creative organisations to operate and collaborate from.

“This funding lays the foundations for the complete restoration of the historic site, transforming the Female Factory into a museum that tells the stories of our history for generations to come. This remarkable location deserves to be properly preserved and protected and I am committed to working towards achieving a World Heritage listing for the site,” Mr Harwin said.

“It will also deliver more cultural infrastructure to the West so that our arts and cultural organisations have a hub to operate from, share ideas and create new works for the public.”

“The funding also includes critical repair and maintenance to Keller House to support the development of a Stolen Generations Keeping Place led by survivors and the Stolen Generations Council.”

Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said the area was a place of compelling stories and history with enormous cultural significance to the Traditional Owners.

“We are also working in collaboration with Deerubbin Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) on future uses for sites within the precinct.”

“The Western Sydney Startup Hub and café will be the first major activation of the site in 2022 which will be a vibrant place for the community to meet, collaborate and exchange skills and ideas,” Ms Pavey said.

“With funding secured for additional heritage upgrades, we can now plan for future tenancy and activation of the buildings and open spaces bringing more jobs and opportunities to the area.”

Member for Parramatta Dr Geoff Lee said: “I have been championing for this site since first elected and I am delighted that we are investing $53.8m.”

“The NSW Government is working hard through its investment and continued efforts to make this Australia’s best and most sustainable heritage precinct for future generations.”

President of the Parramatta Female Factory Friends Gay Hendriksen welcomed the announcement.

“On behalf of the Parramatta Female Factory Friends I am delighted with this news of the vision and commitment by the State Government of NSW to the much needed conservation, interpretation and access in the form of a museum.”

“It is heartening to see the respect for the women shown through action and most fitting in this bicentennial year of the women being moved to the Female Factory,” Ms Hendriksen said.

Planning for the site will begin immediately with a final business case to inform a decision on the Parramatta Female Factory museum to be presented back to Government in 2023.

Further details, including invitations for community feedback will be announced in the coming months.

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