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Funding boost to conserve Separate Prison

08/05/2007

The Port Arthur Historic Site has been awarded Australian Government funding for restoration work on the Separate Prison building.

The $454,445 grant has been made available under the National Heritage Investment Initiative by the Department of Environment and Water Resources.

The Separate Prison (erected 1848-1852) is regarded as a rare surviving example of the “separate” treatment system which changed the main approach to punishment and reform from one based upon harsh physical punishment to one based on psychological control.

Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority Director of Conservation and Infrastructure, Dr Jane Harrington, said funding would give visitors to the site a much stronger sense of the stark isolation that the ‘prison within a prison’ imposed on inmates.

“It will enable repair of ‘A’ Wing to stabilise stonework and restoration of elements of the exercise yard,” Dr Harrington said.

“The Separate Prison is a unique building with a powerful message.

“It represents the British (and Australian) shift away from the use of physical punishment in an isolated setting to deter crime to an emphasis on psychological manipulation to reform criminal attitudes including isolation from contamination.”

Dr Harrington said the project will enhance visitors’ understanding of the significance of the prison by enriching their experience of the structure and its history through increased stories, greater access to the lives of prison inmates and the prison staff, and the ability to 'read' the structure as a compact and functioning entity.

She said the project will also allow the achievement of occupational, health and safety and accessibility objectives, with one aim being to increase access for visitors with a disability.

Building work is expected to start in July 2007.

For more information about conservation activities at the Port Arthur Historic Site, visit our website.

Funding boost to conserve Separate Prison

The works will address physical conservation issues.

Funding boost to conserve Separate Prison

They will also, when finished, give visitors a stronger sense of the isolation experienced by inmates.

Funding boost to conserve Separate Prison

Photographs by Sarah Quine (c) PAHSMA