PO Box 1360,
About Henry Parkes
Compiled by the Henry Parkes Foundation, for the first Primary Schools Citizenship Convention, October 1999.
To build a just, fair and egalitarian society through a demoratically elected government with everyone educated and aware of their right and responsibiities and with equal opportunities to participate.
His life: 1815-1896
Child: 0-8 years
Young man: 9-23 years
Adventurer: 24-34 years
Man of ideas: 35-40 years
Politician and political reformer: 41-81 years
Some achievements of Parkes and his five governments
Development of democracy: All adult men were given the right to vote and the electoral system was reformed. (Women's suffrage was not achieved until the turn of the century despite Henry's earlier support.)
Federation: "Kinship, community, shared goals and dreams united all Australians", said Parkes. From 1861 until he died, he worked towards his dream of Federation and is now called The Father of Federation.
Education: He recognised how education had helped him and made sure that every child in NSW would have access to a free secular public school education. He encouraged adult education; funded the first NSW public library; encouraged the NSW Art Gallery and such institutions as the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts.
Health and welfare: He introduced the training of nurses for public hospitals with the help of Florence Nightingale. He recognised the relationships between health, poverty and crime. He supported measures to relieve poverty and assist employment, reform prisons, and care for the disabled.
To meet the need for transportation of produce and people, and to encourage trade between the states, a wide network of rail services was established in NSW and the benefit of a standard interstate track gauge was promoted.
An efficient postal service was established with advice from the English postal expert Anthony Trollope.
He established public recreation areas such as Centennial Park and took a keen interest in Taronga Park Zoo. He developed a love for the Australian bush and tried to regulate timber cutting by setting up the Forestry Branch in the Department of Lands in 1871.
Throughout his long life his own qualities of honesty, optimism and energy kept the support of many people of goodwill who shared his vision of a good society, believing it could be achieved through democratic political means, by reason and persuasion, without violence. They achieved a great deal and set the foundations for our present system of government which can work well if everyone understands and participates.