Welcome to the Female Orphan School
The Female Orphan School building is a key witness to some of the most significant social changes in Australian history. The building has shaped thousands of lives over the two centuries it has stood on the banks of the Parramatta River.
For most of its life, the building accommodated those who, for whatever reason, were left on the periphery of society. Its first function was to accommodate, educate and train Sydney’s ‘orphaned’ children. After its life as an orphanage, it served as a psychiatric hospital and its changing use over the subsequent 100 years reflected society’s evolving understanding of mental illness. By the mid 1980s, the philosophies the building embodied had become obsolete, and the building became disused and fell into disrepair.
Recognising its heritage significance, the University of Western Sydney saw to the building’s restoration in a series of projects beginning in 2000. The Female Orphan School has now been revivified as the centrepiece of the university’s Parramatta campus.