The Australian government is seeking to add the Parramatta Female Factory to the World Heritage List. This would make it the second independent venue in Sydney, alongside the Sydney Opera House, to receive this award.
The sandstone precinct was built by Governor Lachlan Macquarie to house convict women in the colonial era and has previously been touted as a possible World Heritage site contender.
Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said the government had now added the site – officially called the Parramatta Female Factory and Institutions Precinct – to Australia’s tentative World Heritage List.
To be awarded the award, it must meet at least one of ten selection criteria set by the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Australia has 20 objects on the list, including only four listed for their outstanding cultural significance. These are the Opera House, Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens in Melbourne, the Budj Bim cultural landscape in south-west Victroria and Australian convict sites (eleven complementary sites across the country including Hyde Park Barracks, Cockatoo Island and Old Government House).
The remainder, such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Blue Mountains and Lord Howe Island, are listed for their natural or mixed significance.
Plibersek said the Parramatta Female Factory was a brutal place, particularly for the poor, lonely and powerless, and it was vital to preserve the history of the women and girls housed there.
“There is a common thread that runs through these buildings — it is the way we have tried to institutionalize, control and discipline young women,” she said. “It is important that we learn from our mistakes, just as we learn from our many successes.”