By June M Bullivant OAM
“Long overdue!” screams the headline in The Parramatta Sun. Why that question? Local groups and historians and advocacy groups (far too many to mention) have been fighting to save this site since Barry O’Farrell took office. Funny how things work out: you can talk and talk, you can work and work, and the community has been working since 2011 to try to inform the decision makers of NSW and Parramatta that there is a gold mine lying in Fleet Street.
I myself have spent many hours trying to achieve this. In fact many residents, community members, historians and descendants have worked as volunteers, and the collective hours spent on this project cannot be measured. Local media has worked overtime to keep the issue alive over that time, but the problem is that while a few of the people comment, many will not.
Ask yourself why has the Female Factory – which is the oldest convict site to survive with buildings intact – is little known and missed out on National and World Listing when Parramatta Park next door was World Heritage listed? In comparison to the Factory it has a number of things, like the Governors’ Bath House (open air would be cold in the winter), the obelisk, the dairy cottage, the Tudor Gates, Old Government House Lady Fitzroy’s memorial. It was even overlooked when someone listed the 12 Convict sites in Australia.
Our passionate descendants and community members have written and met, been interviewed by reporters, dashed off at the last minute to have “photo shoots” for years, hash tagged posts on social media, put up online and hard copy petitions, actually wrote to politicians in local, state and federal governments to be either brushed aside because it was not their portfolio or just ignored.
As well as the above people, lots of interest groups such as the Local Residents Group, Friends Groups, Historical Societies, National Trust, ICOMOS, and the Australian Institute of Architects. See their post Parramatta Female Factory added to National Heritage List.
Now you ask, why we the people have been ignored? In 2016 the National Heritage Office called for submissions, obut f course they don’t expect people to do anything. There was a deluge of them; the reader may ask why this has taken so long.
Well history and heritage is not popular you see, it impedes development it is said, it gets in the way of progress they say … but does it? Well the NSW government sure believes that, the Federal Environment Minister did not want to know, even after numerous letters and emails it took an announcement from the World Heritage Committee UNESCO to include Australia on the committee – to actually have the Federal Minister announce a decision that had been sitting on his desk for months. So you ask why was it going to cause embarrassment to the Federal Government, and the State Government? Or was it the decision of the State Government to dismiss the Councillors and put an administrator in that would work with them to carve up the Factory and sell it for high rise? Josh Frydenberg announced the National Listing Tuesday last week.
The community is still fighting, WE NOW NEED WORLD HERITAGE LISTING. Why? To give the site further protection. All they have to do is put it on the list of the other important sites. Problem solved. Will they do it, will the minister be embarrassed if he is advising the world on how to save Heritage when he is allowing ours to be destroyed. Only time will tell.
Meanwhile … Australia Elected to the World Heritage Committee.
Will Josh be Australia’s saviour, or will he have the power to stop the Female Factory being listed?