What's On


Saturday 10 March 2018
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

The Whitlam Institute at the Female Orphan School
Building EZ
Western Sydney University
Cnr James Ruse Drive
& Victoria Road
Rydalmere NSW 2116

The Whitlam Institute and Western Sydney University together host an event to explore activist social work in Australia from the 1970s onwards, its origins and its legacy.

A panel discussion will look at social work activism in the Whitlam era and beyond, together with a recent graduate’s perspective on the contemporary context.

The event will launch the new book Radicals in Australian Social Work: Stories of Lifelong Activism (edited by Carolyn Noble, Bob Pease and Jim Ife) and repeat the book’s call to arms to continue the "fight for a better, more inclusive world.“

The launch will be followed by a seminar, led by Professor Carolyn Noble, where contributors to the book will discuss their chapters, with opportunity for further discussion.

Speakers and Panellists

  • Leanne Smith (Director, Whitlam Institute)
  • Prof Jim Ife (Western Sydney University)
  • Prof Bob Pease (University of Tasmania, Deakin University)
  • Prof Donna Baines (University of Sydney)
  • Prof Linda Briskman (Margaret Whitlam Chair Of Social Work, Western Sydney University)
  • Hatice Woods (Graduate, Western Sydney University)



The Female Orphan School is open 11 am - 4 pm on Saturday 10 March and there’s lots to see:

Free tours of the Female Orphan School - 11.30 am, 1.30 pm and 2.30 pm
A Changing Australia: The Time of Gough Whitlam - An interactive exhibition that recalls the transformative years of the Whitlam government.
The Liberation Prison Project in the Margaret Whitlam Galleries. An exhibition of 65 original artworks by people in prison, from Australia and the world.


Current Exhibitions

Liberation Prison Project

This exhibition features 65 original artworks by people serving custodial sentences in Australia and around the world. These are accompanied by an ambient soundscape of poems written by people in prison and recited by professional actors.

The exhibition is from the Liberation Prison Project, which takes place in Italy, Mexico, Mongolia, New Zealand, Spain & USA.

Liberation Prison sees volunteer chaplains working with those in prison to teach meditation practices, develop personal insight,and increase understanding in how to change their behaviours.



10 FEBRUARY – 14 APRIL 2018Image: Edward - Student of Liberation Prison Project

Image: Original Flying Monk, Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Image:Our Mentors, Sol

This exhibition has been supported by Western Sydney University Art Collection and Whitlam Institute.


A Changing Australia: The time of Gough Whitlam

A Changing Australia exhibition images

The Whitlam Institute's exhibition, A Changing Australia: The time of Gough Whitlam explores the remarkable life and enduring legacy of one of Australia's most significant Prime Ministers – Gough Whitlam. Step back in time to explore the dynamic, influential and tumultuous years of the Whitlam Government through some of the key objects from the Whitlam Prime Ministerial collection.

  • Free admission
  • Our regular opening hours are Thursday and Friday, 10.00am - 4.00pm, and the second Saturday of each month, 11:00am – 4:00pm (Excluding long weekends and public holidays).
  • East wing, Female Orphan School

Image: National Archives of Australia

A Changing Australia exhibition room 1

A Changing Australia exhibition room 2


Previous Events

National Trust Heritage Festival 2015

Talk: Compassionate interventions: entering and leaving the Female Orphan School

As part of the National Trust Heritage Festival, historian Associate Professor Carol Liston from the University of Western Sydney explored some of the stories of those who ended up either in or out of the orphanage because of compassionate intervention.

The talk Compassionate Interventions: entering and leaving the Female Orphan School will be available for viewing shortly.

Lecture: Happy Birthday Triple J! 40 years of big sound and big impact

The Centre for Media History at Macquarie University and the Whitlam Institute within the University of Western Sydney, with the support of Triple J co-presented  a public forum on Monday 19 January 2015, with media and popular music historian Dr Liz Giuffre from the Centre for Media History at Macquarie University, to mark the 40th birthday of 2JJ. The talk is now available to watch below:


National Trust Heritage Festival 2014

The Whitlam Institute within the University of Western Sydney presented several events as part of the 2014 National Trust Heritage Festival. We filmed our two talks, which are now available to watch below:

Arrivals and Departures: The Journeys of the Female Orphan School Children

Historian Associate Professor Carol Liston from the University of Western Sydney tells the stories of how some children came to be at the Female Orphan School, and what became of them after they left.

The Journey to Restoration and Adaptive Reuse: The historic Female Orphan School

Heritage architect Megan Jones, Practice Director of Tanner Kibble Denton Architects discusses her experiences from stage one to completion of the Female Orphan School's progressive restoration.