On Friday the 23rd of October, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Parramatta Female Factory Friends’ Riot Day Commemoration. This annual event remembers the female factory workers who, in 1827, rioted against poor working conditions and rations – an event considered to be one of Australia’s first industrial actions.
To commemorate this event, the Friends’ conducted guided tours of the former factory site which were attended by over 200 people.
Additionally, they invited a number of high-profile speakers to attend including:
Jack Mundey– a former unionist and environmental activist who led the Green Bans to protect historic and natural sites around Sydney from development in the 1970s.
Julie Owens– the Federal Labor MP for Parramatta.
Lee Rhiannon– a Federal Greens Senator.
Geoff Lee– the NSW Member for Parramatta.
A number of other speakers from the CFMEU and Parramatta Residents’ Action Group also spoke about their support for the site’s preservation.
These speakers provided an amazing reminder of the historical importance of the Female Factory and the significance of the current political campaign to protect the site. In particular, it was a privilege to hear Jack Mundey speak. He is a genuine icon of the public campaign to preserve Australia’s built history and managed to mobilise a significant movement of union members and members of the public around this important cause.