Explore Your Heritage

Kickstart Arts are custodians of iconic colonial buildings that operated as orphanages for boys and girls from 1833.


These buildings were part of the convict system, key instruments of public policy. Their purpose was to incarcerate the children of the poor and stolen Aboriginal children and equip them for a lifetime of servitude as agricultural labourers or domestic servants.


The process of repairing and re-purposing these buildings brings with it a set of relationships with the thousands of descendants of those orphans and a mission to explore the stories of the past in relation to public policy and the future.

The Walkout Step

pakana elder Cheryl Mundy is creating a major public artwork called The Walkout Step in collaboration with sculptor Marcus Tatton. 
Cheryl and Marcus Walkout Step placement

This in-ground installation in the entrance to the former boys orphanage is a response to the reality that stolen pakana (Tasmanian Aboriginal) children were incarcerated there during the nineteenth century. The artwork is, to use Cheryl’s words, “a dream from my heart and spirit to free the children out into their lands rich with natural signs to direct them home.” 


Cheryl is deeply connected to the St John’s Park site and to the former orphanages. She is descended from Fanny Cochrane Smith, who was held prisoner in the girls orphanage and her relative Adam was taken from Wyabalenna on Flinders Island and held in the boys. 


She also worked at St John’s Park as a mental health worker for many years.

Cheryl and Marcus on Walkout Step

Disturbing Echoes Forum & Open Day 


This public forum communicated progress of fixing the building and examined their significance in the past, present and future.  

We opened the former Boys Orphanage for the community to visit and explore, and we exhibited images and plans of the building’s past and present.


The Forum facilitated discussions about poverty, the causes of inequality, the social determinants of health, Aboriginal sovereignty and public policy. 

Disturbing Echoes Forum audience
Disturbing Echoes Cheryl being interviewed

Healing Ground Installations (2017)

Seven artists created site specific artworks responding to the former orphanages.


The works in progress were shared with an audience and then discussion was held over dinner exploring the context and cultural associations of the site and the relationship of the artworks to those meanings.

The Evidence

Tasmania’s history is a fascinating weave of social, cultural, industrial and political change. These forces have made twenty first century Tasmania the place it is now.


We are repairing and repurposing a significant site and using this process to invite community members to connect with stories of the past, present and future.


We are in an ideal time to ask: who are we? Who do we want to be?

Churchill Archive for Schools (UK)

Website: Why History Matters

Queensland University of Technology (AUS)

Website: History's children: history wars in the classroom [Book review]

University of Tasmania (AUS)

Website: Companion to Tasmanian History - Identity

ABC News (AUS)

Website: Tasmania's dark history involved dozens of Aboriginal massacres, how should we recognise them?

Network Weaving

A few examples of local programs that might suit you.

The Australian Family Historian

 Website: Directory of Tasmanian Historical Societies 

The Tasmanian Historical Research Association

Website: Discover Tasmania's History

Friends of the Orphan Schools - St John's Park Precinct

Website: Friends of the Orphan Schools

Libraries Tasmania

Website: Tasmanian Heritage and Archive Blog