An initiative of Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Association the Memory Project brings together artists, historians, academics and former occupants to document, record and interpret the history, heritage and legacy of this institutional precinct.
Our aim is to transform this once inaccessible institutional precinct into a place of shared cultural heritage that acknowledges the significance it holds for First Nations people, women, Forgotten Australians, Stolen Generations and in the provision of mental health services.
Connecting past to present and memory to action through social history and contemporary art.
Our aim is to activate this historic institutional precinct into a place of public memory as a creative, cultural hub in the heart of Western Sydney. We do this through a diverse program of contemporary art and social history projects that foster agency for former occupants to document and interpret the institutional experience and its legacy.
Australia's first Site of Conscience
In Australia, the history of institutionalisation is so little known, so poorly documented and so frequently challenged. Why? because many of those who have the first hand knowledge of this history come to distrust their own memories.
As in the words of Jacqueline Wilson, as a Ward of the State: ' I was dismissed, disapproved of and disbelieved so unanimously, so systematically, that by the time I was discharged from wardship, I had come to distrust my own memories.'
Prompts and mnemonic aids, are powerful tools used to excavate buried or secreted-away memories - so to is the power of place. Yet like so many other institutional sites the physical remnant of the Parramatta Female Factory Institutions Precinct was under threat of demolition by neglect or re-development by design. Faced with this, artist and Parragirl Bonney Djuric teamed up with Dr Lily Hibberd in conceiving the Memory Project to protect, promote and activate the historic Parramatta Female Factory Institutions Precinct.
This historic precinct bears witness to 200 years of incarceration and control of women, children and the mentally ill. Upwards of 40,000 Australians have passed through these institutions.
The Memory Project moves beyond the limitations of traditional heritage practice in centering focus on the human experience and human rights issues associated with institutionalisation. Inspired by other arts/action/human rights movements the Memory Project joined the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience (ICSOC) in 2012. The Coalition is the only global network of historic sites, museums and memory initiatives that connects past struggles to today’s movements for human rights.
Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Association is a ACNC registered nonprofit organisation.