Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Memory Project
Reviewed by: Elena Abou Mrad and Emily Maanum
Review started: April 5, 2021
Review finished: April 29, 2021
- Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Memory Project website: https://www.pffpmemory.org.au/
- Parramatta Female Factory Precinct website: http://www.parragirls.org.au/
Data and Sources
- On the Memory Project website: photos and videos from events organized by the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Memory Project. For example, a video titled “PFFP Memory Project story 2013” shows the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Memory group members speaking about their creative process and how this project has helped them process their traumatic experience.
- Old photographs and architectural plans of the building that form the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct. However, since these digital materials do not have a proper caption or rights disclaimer, it is hard to tell if they belong to the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct or if they were drawn from other archival sources.
- On the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct website: extracts from old papers, letters, books, and articles. However, there is no clear indication whether these materials belong to the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct or if they were drawn from other archival sources.
- Videos were edited, provided with basic metadata, and shared on video platforms such as Vimeo and YouTube.
- Photographs, architectural plans, and old prints were digitized and uploaded to the website. Unfortunately, the ones on the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct website lack basic captions or alt text.
- Text from old papers, letters, books, and articles was transcribed and shared on the website in a “quote” formatting (italic, different font size) and enclosed in a grey box that separates it from the rest of the text.
- A website describing the project along with information about the physical site this project is about
- Website includes information related to past events and exhibitions
- Link to a website for the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Association
- The website contains an About page for the memory project, a page dedicated to past events and exhibitions, a page with an overview of the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct, and a contact page
Digital Tools Used to Build It
- Information not prominently displayed on site
The Parramatta Female Factory Precinct (PFFP) Memory Project is an initiative started by the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Association in 2012. The PFFP association launched this memory project as a social history and art project to act as Australia's first site of conscience, connecting the past to the present and transforming memory into action. This designation of a site of conscience is in part due to the association joining the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience (ICSC) that same year. The goal of the memory project is to transform the precinct from inaccessible to accessible through art and social action. The project wishes to turn the PFFP into a place of social memory through events and exhibitions with artists, academics, historians, and former occupants. The project aims to acknowledge the significance of this site and address its relationship to Indigenous Australians, women, and the history of mental health services in Australia.
VR Parragirls Past, Present Video
Reviewed by: Emily Maanum
The memory project website includes an embedded video titled “Parragirls Past, Present” which is a virtual reality (VR) film that explores the experiences of former occupants through their memories. The film was made for the Big Anxiety Festival 2017 and was a collaboration of media artists from the National Institution of Experimental Arts (NIEA) at the University of New South Wales. The video is about two and half minutes long and shows a VR experience of the site as former occupants give a voice over of their experiences. Unfortunately, the link to the film’s website is no longer working, so viewers are only exposed to this segment of the film, and there is no any additional information about this film on the website. As a tool for educating others, I think VR films/videos can be an interesting and immersive way for others to hear about certain experiences and realities. I think if the memory project has the opportunity to add this video to their website it will be a very useful tool for viewers to understand the importance of this project and the PFFP site.
Parragirls Page on the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Website
Reviewed by: Elena Abou Mrad
As explained on the Parragirls page, “Parragirls is a self funded voluntary group established in 2006 by Parramatta Girls for former residents of Parramatta Girls Home, Kamballa & Taldree, their families and other Forgotten Australians from NSW State controlled child welfare institutions.”
I decided to analyze this section of the project because it felt like an interesting way to connect the past and the present of the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct. Parragirls provide information, a support network, and a contact registry for former residents of the precinct; they organize public programs and participate in the National Apology events. Parragirls also offer counseling and support to victims of child sexual abuse and family separation, helping people file with the Royal Commission council to obtain justice. This group also organizes oral history projects and trains teachers about the history of the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct.
I really appreciated the fact that a memory project became the opportunity to create a group whose aim is to help victims find support, justice, and peace.
User Experience and Notes
Reviewed by: Elena Abou Mrad
Exploring the two websites is a frustrating experience, for different reasons. The Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Memory Project website, while clearly looking new and aesthetically pleasing, creates a poor user experience in the fact that it fails to showcase any “memory.” The description of the precinct itself is sort of vague, focusing more on the buildings and their history than on the people that lived there. This website has the dehumanizing effect of obscuring the lives of the former residents in favor of architectural details about the buildings.
The project aims at creating outreach toward the community in the form of artistic representations and storytelling events; however, there is little to no description of these initiatives. On the events page, only a few of the events have links; the rest are indicated just with their title or with photographs, thus lacking contextual information.
The Parramatta Female Factory Precinct website looks antiquated and is not aesthetically pleasing. The first thing one notices when arriving at this website from the new one, is that the graphic design is poor and the pages look like big blocks of text, with scattered photos, videos, blocks of quotes, and so on. The website contains more historical information, for example on the women and children who lived at the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct. Unfortunately, this historical information and the attached archival materials lack proper references, which makes them not easily usable in an academic context.
On the websites there is little reference to the lives of the Indigenous people that lived here. Moreover, there are no options to display the website in Indigenous languages, which feels like another form of erasure.
Emily, my co-reviewer, pointed out that at the bottom of the About page there is an acknowledgement that states “We respectfully recognise the Traditional Owners of the land and waters of Parramatta, the Darug Peoples, and are committed to working with Traditional Owners on matters of water, language and cultural heritage.” She hopes that the project will work on including more Indigenous language and culture, but suspects there might not be a good transcription of Indigenous memories.