Report on Female Factory, 15 January 1830

The number of female confines in the gaol of Sydney, at the beginning of the past week, exceeded 40. The number in the female factory at Parramatta cannot at this time be far short of 400. An unthinking person might fancy from this, that people would be doing a favor to the Government by offering to take off one or two each of the surplus on hands. But the fact seems to be otherwise. At least the roundabout way to which people are put to compass this simple object, which after all proves, in nine cases out of ten, to be scarce worth the seeking, would cause one to imagine so.

In the first place, if the application be not made in due form, that is to say, precisely according to the prescribed letter, it fails of attaining its object, or perhaps of inducing a mere reply. Next, if made upon a regularly printed form, it is not sufficient to state the purpose of the application in plain intelligible English, but the applicant must enter into an expose of his or her domestic economy; state how many servants, free or bond, he or she employs; how many have been such and such a time employed; whether he or she (the applicant) be wedded, or in “a state of single blessedness;” —- and, to top all, some Magistrate or Person must certify as to the applicant’s character, before any claim to the privilege of doing the Government a favor by relieving the gaol, the barracks or the penitentiary, of what at best must be a rather troublesome and expensive sort of customer,—can even be listened to! All this fuss and parade about a mere trifle, to a respectable “female” especially, must be very galling; and we are not surprised that many individuals, sooner than encounter the troubles, delays, and vexatious regulations attendant on such a course of proceeding, should prefer leaving both men and women to accumulate upon the hands of the Government, and to do a wonderful deal of nothing besides eating up the King’s provision, at the expense of the people.

We are not prepared to say, that all sorts of persons have these difficulties to encounter. It is sufficient for our purpose to know, that some have experience their effects. If we could discover the necessity for such a roundabout shillishalli mode of doing a mere simple, common-place sort of business, we would rather encourage than exclaim against the system. where individuals happen to be obscure or of questionable character, these sorts of criss-cross methods may be tolerated.

But when individuals of known respectability make a simple specific application to have the services of such and such a male or female assigned to him, her, or them,—we think an answer might be given equally plain and finite. Even in the assignment of a Crown servant, there is no need to lose sight of a proper regard to some form of courtesy, or to keep it unduly upon one side altogether. The more simple, concise, and brief the application, the more speedy, plain, and conclusive the reply, the better. There is no necessity for either side encumbering itself with tedious out-of-the-way forms, for no better purpose, in 99 cases out of ten, than to create delay, disappointment, and vexation. On the whole, therefore, we consider the stipulated mode of applying for Crown female servants, and of making a parade of what in its essence is the easiest thing in life, deserves to be “more honored in the breach than the observance.”

See Original:No title,” The Australian (Sydney, NSW: 1824 – 1848), Friday 15 January 1830, p.3