Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Heritage grant to share footprints of convict history

Media release
11 June 2012

The yards of the Cascades Female Factory will be filled with the footprints of the convict buildings that housed the women who were once held and worked there, as part of a conservation and interpretation project funded by the Gillard Labor Government's Your Community Heritage program.

Minister for Heritage, Tony Burke, joined Tasmanian Labor representatives Julie Collins MP, Senator Lisa Singh, and Senator Carol Brown at the Cascades Female Factory.

The Gillard Government will provide $374,000 in funding to improve visitor experiences at the World Heritage Listed Cascades Female Factory.

Heritage Minister, Tony Burke officially announced the project funding today within the walls of thesmall site which once housed over 1000 people.

"Our heritage is fundamental to our national identity and informs us about where we have come from and who we are," Mr Burke said.

"The Cascades Female Factory played an important role in Australia's history and the Gillard Government will ensure it is able to continue telling that story."

The Cascades Female Factory opened in 1828 and operated as a prison and place of punishment for re-offending female convicts, a female labour hiring depot, a hospital, a nursery, a place for pregnant convicts and a workplace.

Minister for the Status of Women, Julie Collins said the site is a poignant reminder of the hardships women faced during the empire-building period and an important memorial to the lives lost at the site.

"Through the Your Community Heritage program the Gillard Government is providing $374,000 to design and build interpretive footprints of the former chapels, yards and offices at the Cascades Female Factory in Hobart, Tasmania," Ms Collins said.

"Sharing the stories of the women who toiled as convicts or their wardens, and making that history accessible, is what sites like the Cascades Female Factory are all about."

Senator Lisa Singh said sharing the stories of women who toiled as convicts and their warders, andmaking that history accessible is what sites like the Cascades Female Factory are all about.

"I have been pleased to have worked with the Cascades Female Factory over a number of years. I have been consistently inspired by the dedication of volunteers to bring to light the stories of the women who lived here.

"The Cascades Female Factory once housed over 1 000 people at a time, either incarcerated as punishment or responsible for keeping convicts at work," Senator Singh said.

"As one of the only places of early female imprisonment with remains intact, it is one of the most significant sites of convict heritage in the world."

Senator Carol Brown said that as a result of this project an education program will also be developed to engage with schools and tell the story about the important contribution made by women who passed through the doors.

"The new interpretive and education features, will demonstrate the crowded spaces occupied by female convicts in the 1800s and give visitors a greater understanding of the extreme conditions of overcrowding female convicts endured," Senator Brown said.

"This funding from the Gillard Labor Goverment will provide interpretation for Yards 1 and 4 at the site in the form of building footprints on the ground. Once the footprint is in place, visitors will be able to explore the stories of convict women through interpretation media."

Under the Your Community Heritage program, the Gillard Government is providing over $9.8 million in funding that will support 237 heritage projects around Australia.

This includes 26 projects worth more than $1.4 million in Tasmania.

The Cascades Female Factory is one of the eleven sites that form the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage property.