Australia's oldest public building to house Whitlam Institute
1 June 2012
Australia’s oldest public building will be restored with a $7 million grant from the Gillard Government to permanently house the Whitlam Institute and Margaret Whitlam art galleries.
The restoration of the historic Female Orphan School building at the University of Western Sydney’s Parramatta campus announced today means the resources of the Whitlam Institute can be used to their full potential.
The Whitlam Institute was established by the University of Western Sydney in 2000 to honour Gough Whitlam’s vision for a democratic and progressive Australia and to foster cutting-edge research and public debate.
It was the Whitlam Government that opened up access to education for all Australians, abolishing university fees, established a national vocational education system, reformed school funding, created Austudy and invested in national pre-school education.
The Whitlam Prime Ministerial Collection, including the Whitlam Prime Ministerial Library and contemporary galleries and exhibitions, is currently housed in small premises on the campus, originally built in 1868.
The limited space and lack of audio visual facilities means school visits and international visiting scholars cannot be catered for.
This funding opens a whole new world of possibilities.
This restoration will see the full collection brought together in one location, providing a central point of access available to scholars and researchers.
It will also house a rich collection of art displayed in galleries named in honour of the late Margaret Whitlam.
The new facility will feature a dedicated space for use by schools and community groups and capacity for the institute to host important public cultural, educational and policy events.
This funding will ensure that the Female Orphan School building remains a public place for educational, cultural and public policy pursuits and becomes a pre-eminent resource for western Sydney.