Children’s Day connects past to present

Whirly daisies for PFFP Children's Day 2014-001Some of Marily Cintra’s whirly daisies made from recycled plastic bottles stand in front of a life size photo from  a former Irish institution for children.

Preparations are well in hand for Children’s Day, Sunday, March 9, 2014, 11am to 4pm, at Kamballa, 1 Fleet Street, Parramatta. Organisers of the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Memory Project invite families to come with their children.

Come join us for a fun filled family event connecting past to present at the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct. All activities are suitable for primary school aged children

          CREATE                 Art & Craft activities

          LISTEN                  Talking Circles – Parramatta’s flying foxes, Indigenous culture & bush tucker

            LEARN                   How to make a raised garden bed or a whirly daisy from recycled materials

            CONNECT            Past to present at this historic site in remembering children who once lived here.

 Built as an orphanage in 1844 this child welfare institution was once ‘home’ to generations of children who are referred to today as the Forgotten Australians.

Children’s Day brings together families to remember the children of the orphanage and others separated from their families and will include a ceremonial planting of a Memorial Garden by Her Excellency Professor The Honourable Marie Bashir AC CVO, Governor of New South Wales.

Bring a picnic lunch or enjoy a free sausage sizzle. Vegetarian food available.

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PARRAMATTA GIRLS HOME AS AN INTERNATIONAL SITE OF CONSCIENCE

Thanks to Professional Historians Association Blog editor, here is the latest post about the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct: Memory Project and its connections to the current Royal Commission. The PHA blog also provides links to related sites.

On 31 January, Bonney Djuric posted on Facebook “See ABC 7.30 Report NSW, tonight Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Parramatta Girls Home”. For over a decade, the former “Parramatta Girl” Bonney has been leading a movement to research and understand the impact of poverty and the child welfare system, as well as to work for system reform and healing for those whose lives were damaged during their time in the institution. This includes the preservation of the Parramatta Girls Home and the adjacent colonial Female Factory site and its dedication as a living memorial to the Forgotten Australians and others marginalised by society.

Bonney’s argument is that Australia’s convict legacy had an influence on its welfare system. The decades of transportation shaped ideas and beliefs about females who could be charged and committed to institutions for being ‘Exposed to Moral Danger’; a charge which did not apply to males. Not even two per cent of the inmates at Parramatta Girls Home, which operated from 1887 to 1986, had been charged with a criminal offence.

In 2007, Bonney contacted UTS Shopfront, the University of Technology Sydney’s gateway to the community. She wanted help in compiling a history of the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct. Since then, Parragirls and Shopfront have worked on several projects. Their fourth is the PFFP Memory Project: trace, place, identity, which aims to preserve the precinct’s history and turn it into an internationally recognised Site of Conscience.

With support from Arts NSW, the PFFP Memory Project is presenting a Children’s Day on site on 9 March 2014. And in May Riverside Theatre will present Parramatta Girls by Alana Valentine. The play tells of the courage, hardship and inequality the Parramatta girls experienced.

The photo (by Mike Chin) shows The Memory Project’s core team: artist, Mike Chin, former Parramatta Girls – Jeannie (Gypsie) Hayes and Bonnie Djuric, indigenous artist and teacher Leanne Tobin, playwright Alana Valentine and artist and teacher Liz Day.