Today I was pleased to see the unveiling of the first of four statues recognising the some 15,000 convict women and free children who arrived in Tasmania, then known as Van Diemen’s Land, from 1803 to 1853.

The statue was unveiled as part of the From the Shadows program, an initiative established to raise funds for the commission of the four statues following on from the success of the Footsteps Toward Freedom project statues in the forecourt of Macq01 on Hobart’s waterfront, created by internationally renowned Irish sculptor Rowan Gillespie.

The first of the statues was modelled on Brydie, a descendent of Martha Gregory who was transported to Tasmania from England for seven years for stealing, and was designed to represent the struggles of the convict women and particularly mothers.

Last year, I was delighted to offer From the Shadows a grant of $10,000 from the Premier’s Discretionary Fund to help with the project.

For many years, history about women and children has not been recognised to the extent is should. From the Shadows seeks to redress this imbalance, illuminating the stories of convict women and their children, and bringing their lives and stories out of the shadows and weaving them into Hobart’s historic landscape – as important community as well as heritage tourism assets.

As an arts project, From the Shadows promotes reflection and connection to the historic landscape for locals and visitors alike.

As both Minister for the Arts and Minister for Heritage I am only too happy to champion projects such as these. The statues will contribute to Hobart’s existing international artistic reputation and the statues represent a significant investment in heritage tourism.

I believe it is important to acknowledge the contribution of the women who arrived in Tasmania under challenging circumstances before being sent to the Cascades Female Factory in Hobart or another convict institution.

The statues will create a significant cultural heritage tourism route linking sites integral to the female convict story – the Hobart waterfront where the female convicts disembarked, here at the World Heritage Cascades Female Factory in South Hobart where they were largely taken and then the State heritage-listed Orphan School buildings at New Town where many of the children were sent.

More details about the project can be found at http://www.fromtheshadows.org.au