Turn the Story Around

The Repair of a National Treasure in New Town

Over the last 12 months, we raised funds to repair the derelict former Queens Orphan School for Boys in St Johns Avenue, St Johns Park, New Town.


The former Queens Orphan School for Boys and Girls – (Kickstart currently operates from the ex Girls orphanage which we renovated in 2015) - were built by convict labour and designed by Colonial Architect John Lee Archer under orders from George Arthur who was Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen's Land from 1824 - 1836.


The institutions were part of the colonial convict system. Destitute, orphan and abandoned children were confined in cramped and cold living quarters under harsh discipline, with poor food, inadequate clothing and little education.


The Orphan School operated from 1833 until it closed in 1879.


Our aim is to repurpose the building as a community cultural precinct that invites all community members to participate in art, culture and making social connections that promote our collective happiness.


Behind the Cage

A journey through the derelict central part of the building that once housed staff of the orphanage. This area is not open to the public due to safety concerns.

The following quotes are from the book Poverty Is Not A Crime -  The Development Of Social Services In TAS 1803 To 1900 by Joan C Brown, published by the Tasmanian Historical Research Association in 1972. 

“Governor Arthur’s concern for the underprivileged in a callous age was to be admired and the system he set up was in its time context better than that available in most places in England and as good as that in New South Wales.”


 “The government saw the problem as principally a moral one. They were concerned not with the distress amongst the poor but with the growing evil of pauperism.…  A committee under Eardley Wilmot referring to the numbers of ex-convict needing assistance says of the group as a whole  “although many of these have acquired property, yet by far the Greater number of persons of thoughtless, and negligent, say dissolute habits which incapacitated them from mending their condition or bearing any part of the burdens of taxation.” PP 26-32.

Thus we can see that the poor were criminalised in England, transported as convicts to Van Diemen's Land, where they were further condemned & neglected for being poor here. The numerous complaints made in those times about “systematic Beggars” that were undeserving due to their “systematic“ seeking of support  underline the harsh implementation of the moral stain upon the victims of structured social inequality.


Presumably the people who were “systematic” Beggars were Beggars of necessity due to circumstance over a long period? This is colonialism and its ideology at play.