Joint media release: World Heritage listing sought for Parramatta Female Factory

The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for the Environment and Water
The Hon Penny Sharpe MLC, New South Wales Minister for the Environment
Dr Andrew Charlton MP, Federal Member for Parramatta
Donna Davis MP, State Member for Parramatta

The Albanese and Minns Governments have today added the infamous Parramatta Female Factory and Institutions Precinct to Australia’s UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List.

The Western Sydney precinct was established in the 1820s and was home to tens of thousands of female convicts, orphaned children, and vulnerable girls and young women. 

The precinct includes a former mental asylum, orphan school, and an Industrial School that only closed in 2008. It tells the story of women and children who were institutionalised and of their experiences there.

This site is an authentic and well-preserved precinct of buildings, archaeology and landscape that carries this history of women over time and would be a unique addition to the World Heritage List.

The Precinct has been on the Australian National Heritage List since 2018 and is recognised for its outstanding heritage value to the nation as a place that demonstrates Australia’s social welfare history.

Tentative listing is the first step in the World Heritage nomination process. Sites must undergo a rigorous assessment process and meet at least 1 of 10 selection criteria to be included on the list by the World Heritage Committee. 

Australian properties already on the World Heritage List include the iconic Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu National Park and the Sydney Opera House. 

Quotes attributable to the Federal Minister for the Environment the Hon Tanya Plibersek: 

“It’s important that we remember all of our history, including the dark and difficult parts. 

“The Parramatta Female Factory was a brutal place, particularly for the poor, the lonely, and the powerless.

“There’s a thread that runs through these buildings. It’s the way we’ve sought to institutionalise, control, and discipline young women. 

“It’s important that we learn from our mistakes, as much as we learn from our many successes. 

“We want the memory of these women and girls to live on. Which is why we are adding the Parramatta Female Factory to Australia’s World Heritage Tentative List."

Quotes attributable to the NSW Minister for the Environment Penny Sharpe: 

“It’s crucial that sites such as the Paramatta Female Factory are recognised as the important places that they are.

“This site is home to Aboriginal stories, Colonial stories and the modern stories of multicultural Western Sydney. To have a historical hub such as this in Paramatta is a wonderful thing and I am grateful that after fighting for its protection for so long, we are making progress.

“I thank those that have campaigned for this for so long.”

Quotes attributable to Federal Member for Parramatta, Dr Andrew Charlton:

“As the second European settlement in the country, Parramatta’s history is the history of Australia.

“Just a stone’s throw from Parramatta’s CBD, the Parramatta Female Factory is a remarkable cultural and heritage asset that must be protected and preserved for future generations.

“The Parramatta Female Factory holds a special place in the hearts of the local community. This achievement brings us one step closer to UNESCO World Heritage listing for this unique piece of Australian history.

“This milestone has been the product of more than a decade of hard work by local community advocates. I’m incredibly proud to be able to honour their efforts.”

Quotes attributable to State Member for Parramatta, Donna Davis:

"I have worked with our community for over a decade to highlight the Parramatta Female Factory and Institutions Precinct as a place of world heritage significance. Today's announcement edges us closer to our long-held goal.

"Listing on Australia's World Heritage Tentative List brings us one step closer to achieving the protection and international recognition the Parramatta Female Factory and Institutions precinct deserves.

"Our community appreciates that the Minns and Albanese Labor Governments are working side by side to achieve world protection of this special place."