Thredbo Alpine Club – A Brief History

In 2022 Thredbo Alpine Club turns sixty-five. To mark the occasion, the club’s directors agreed that my project for this semester should aim to highlight some of the club’s significant moments from its inception in 1957 to the present. My finished project involves the building of a webpage on the club’s website where viewers will find a timeline, a “Memory Box” and a photo gallery.

The Original Lodge Sign 1958

When I began the project, it became apparent that while some efforts had previously been made at compiling a history of TAC, the club’s story remains largely unknown to the membership. However, given that the club’s story is also the collective stories of its members, I have tried to make the project both collaborative as well as always remaining a kind of work in progress.

To achieve this, the timeline is intended to create a kind of story scaffold where my work becomes just the beginning. Further contributions can be easily added over time to deepen the story or to add other layers and perspectives. Part of the challenge is to encourage members to participate in the project to make it truly collaborative. This is the function of the “Memory Box” where I have invited them to share their stories – something I think is quite novel and I hope will inspire members to help build the community story and at the same time help them to think about the part they play in that community and perhaps even strengthen the ties they feel to the club.

The Lodge in Thredbo 1958

I have been very fortunate that by and large the club’s record keeping has been quite thorough. As a result, the internal records of the organisation, have been a rich source of information for the timeline. I have had access to minutes of directors’ meetings, minutes of general meetings and financial statements spanning the life of the club, as well as newsletters from about the mid 1980s onwards.

In addition, I have been able to contact members and have gained valuable insights on historical events from their recollections. I have found some additional contextual information in publications such as The Australian Ski Year Book, as well as news items from local newspapers that are searchable on Trove. Finally, I have also made use of three general histories of Thredbo written by Jim Darby, Chas Keys and Geoffrey Hughes respectively.

The question at the heart of my project has been “How has Thredbo Alpine Club evolved over the past sixty-five years?” In response, I chose to focus on two main themes in the life of TAC: the evolution of the lodge building itself and the club’s involvement in ski competition. These I have tried to situate within the context of the development of Thredbo as a ski resort to illustrate how the Australian ski experience has changed over time.

Against the background of evolution and change in the physical shape of the club I juxtapose the enduring constants that hold the club together. To illustrate this constancy of club ethos, I have highlighted some of the “Faces of TAC”, just a few of those people who have made significant voluntary contributions to club life over the years.

Ultimately my argument is that while the club has changed with the passing of time so much has remained the same. The simple fact of sixty-five years of successful operations under a purely voluntary committee is itself an achievement, let alone contemplating the complexity of some of the projects undertaken by the club over the years. These are people bonded by a shared vision, just as the club’s founders were. It seems this ethos at the very least remains unchanged.

From left: John Spender, Susan (Oddie) Sypkens and Ben Salmon 1962 – Susan and Ben are two of the Club’s founders – hard to believe these two so young had helped to form a club and build a ski lodge four years before this photo was taken

The Mentors of AIME – documenting stories of the past and the present

My final project is a podcast series called ‘The Mentors of AIME’, in which I interview five past mentors from Sydney Uni, documenting their stories of being a mentor and creating a product which can be used to attract new mentors to the program. Although this format is arguably highly saturated in the podcasting world, I felt that the volunteering world lacked a form of media where the facilitators of programs could share their experiences of delivering mentorship and gaining experience. Much of my inspiration stemmed from AIME’s own series of podcasts, interviews, short films and other videos, which documented the perspectives of First Nations people and their history.

Episode 0! Check out the final website and other episodes in the link at the bottom

My project is ultimately trying to argue that AIME’s mission to end educational inequality is one of the most important in modern Australia, and that university students can make a tangible difference to this issue. This is fairly explicit in my project, right from Episode 0, where I discuss the important work of AIME and the purpose of the podcast series. The project itself would not have been possible without the amazing AIME mentors who volunteered to be interviewed, and who provided the evidence and the stories needed to create the final series. Some interviewees I knew before starting, but some I met during the process.

It was incredibly interesting to see key themes develop over the course of the project’s development, namely the idea that mentors and mentees engage in a two way exchange of knowledge and understanding during the program. Each mentor I interviewed spoke about how much they had gained from the program, and how giving their time to students eventuated in the students giving knowledge and understanding back. This overall theme really helped to propel my project in the direction I originally wanted, towards a project which championed the message and work of AIME. 

My ultimate aim was to create a project which documented the stories of AIME’s mentors, and thereby would attract more mentors to the organisation. I know that AIME is always looking to recruit new mentors, and so I would like my project to serve that need, to act as a product which can be shared by AIME on their website or through their university societies. One of the mentors I interviewed was Janice, who currently works as an ambassador for AIME, running the USYD AIME society. She noted that reaching new university students to attract mentors was one goal for USYD at AIME, and so I wanted to work with AIME to create a project which balanced two goals – documenting the stories of mentors and attracting new mentors to the program. 

AIME’s work is inherently significant. By working to eliminate the educational gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, AIME is addressing centuries of racism, genocide and its ongoing effects. Working with AIME was incredibly enlightening but also sobering. Being able to create something which will hopefully help AIME continue with this work is incredibly personally significant, as I do not get many opportunities to make such a difference through my work at university. The more mentors involved, the more students AIME can reach. In some small way, I hope that this project helps to propel AIME’s goals and work. 

Over the course of the unit, I considered many different options for the presentation of my final project. Initially, I planned to create a set of educational resources aligned to the NSW History Curriculum using interviews from staff, material published by AIME and previous educational materials created by AIME (check AIME’s educational materials out here https://www.coolaustralia.org/imagi-nation-tv/). Unfortunately, this idea was a little out of reach, and so I ended up deciding to create a project which would have a target audience of university students, in order to spread AIME’s message and attract new mentors.

The Imagination TV Library contains lessons for teachers to use

The podcast will be passed onto AIME and the USYD Society for them to distribute as they wish. Understandably, they might not want to distribute it but I hope that some episodes will be featured by the USYD Society branch, as a way of reaching mentors at Sydney Uni through O-Week stalls, social media posts and in person events. In the future, I would love to continue working with AIME as a mentor in 2023. I most likely will not be able to carry on the podcast due to time commitments next year when I start teaching, but it would be amazing to see the podcast featured in AIME’s work as a way of continuing the overall aims of my project.

Check out my final project here! A special shout out to Alice and Jen from our course who were extremely generous with their time. Another shout out to Phoebe, Janice and Kirsty who also volunteered their time! https://amcg0658.wixsite.com/thementorsofaime

Immortalising the Fairfield City District Netball Association – in partnership with Fairfield City Museum & Gallery (FCMG)

Founded in 1973, the Fairfield City District Netball Association (FCDNA) championed the sport of netball in the Fairfield Community. Hundreds of young girls of all ages played as part of a team in a variety of settings. From small games between local clubs to state-wide Championships, the FDCNA both promoted netball sporting culture in Fairfield and the wider state and raised Fairfield’s standing in the process. But the group began to decline in the 2010s as interest in netball began to die down. After folding in 2022, and leaving behind a wealth of material ephemera, my project sought to draw attention to the group once more. 

Thus, my project seeks to honour and immortalise the FCDNA through this rich body of sources left behind. I scanned over 100 photographs and transcribed two oral histories from past FCDNA members for my community partner, FCMG, and uploaded it to their online collection. I also wrote a collection summary for FCMG and did captions for each source. I did other accessioning work for some objects the association donated, such as a signboard, a plaque, a flyer promoting the 1979 State Age Championships held in Fairfield, and six badges. All in good, original condition, these sources currently will not be published on the website because the FCMG team are waiting to photograph these objects with a professional next year. But it was so interesting to see this extensive body of ephemera and get to see how they connected with the wider history of Fairfield.

March of the Fairfield City teams during the 1988 NSW State Age Championships at Endeavour Reserve. Image by the FCDNA.

Although tiring and bad for my back (hello scoliosis!), I had fun doing this project. I truly think the FCDNA are underrated and underappreciated in both the Fairfield community and the historical record. There were so many things that I did not know that made me feel guilty. The FCDNA have built so many netball facilities such as hard courts and shared them with the wider sporting community. My family and I have been living in the community since I was born but none of us knew this rich history that was right in front of us. 

Netball hard courts at Endeavour Reserve in Fairfield City.

This, and the folding of the FCDNA, ultimately influenced my argument for my project; how it is very important to memorialise historical peoples and groups, especially those who are not around anymore and share their stories. These local histories can tell us so much about our community and the way past peoples have interacted with one another. These relationships were ultimately a theme that I wanted to shine through my work with FCMG regarding the FCDNA.

It was also nice to help FCMG. They are quite a small organisation and do not have enough time or hands to do the accessioning work. I was lowkey surprised but how many steps needed to be done in accessioning museum acquisitions. There were so many moments when I was doubting myself, thinking that I was in over my head. But I am grateful for the experience and I know FCMG is grateful that one thing has been ticked off their neverending to-do list (shoutout to Marilyn and Alinde, my supervisors!). 

Fairfield City Museum and Gallery on 634 The Horsley Dr, Smithfield NSW 2164.

Hopefully, members of the local community will engage with my project. I want other Fairfieldians to know about the FCDNA and its contributions to our city. FCMG plan on doing posts through their official social media accounts soon after they wrap up their ongoing projects so that’s exciting! I already reached out to the two FCDNA members who were interviewed. Despite only one of them responding, she seemed happy with my project and has already shared a link to the collection with her friends, families and former FCDNA colleagues. Ideally, FCMG and I would love it if the collection can be supplemented with more material. We want more members, especially the netball players, to come forward, donate some more ephemera, and share their stories through interviews. Keep the memory of the FCDNA alive.

But in the meantime, check it out yourself: https://heritagecollection.fairfieldcity.nsw.gov.au/nodes/view/4356.

Also highly recommend visiting the FCMG if you’re in the area and want to learn about Fairfield City. They are so underrated and underappreciated out here in Western Sydney.

Hope you enjoy it and have a great, fulfilling day!

The Women’s Library, Newtown

An overview of the library and the project’s process

The Women’s Library (TWL) in Newtown is a special place home to feminist literature, dedicated volunteers, and a supportive community. The founding committee, led by Vicki Harding, wanted to provide access to a wide range of material, without limiting the support of a feminist community from people in lower socio-economic groups. The library does not espouse one particular brand of feminism but welcomes and includes as many areas of interest as possible.

Over the years at The Women’s Library, low funding and engagement have meant that the volunteers have had to work tirelessly, often alongside fulltime jobs and other commitments, to protect this safe haven for many women in the area. From conversations with volunteers, I discovered that one of the key challenges that the library faces is letting people know about its existence.

For this project, I have studied reports, minutes, newsletters, constitutions, and published materials from the library which were all filed away at TWL. I also sorted through newspaper articles, reviews, and advertisements about the library, some were held at the site, others were found online and at the City of Sydney Archives. I have spoken to volunteers and library members, and I have found that The Women’s Library is not just about the books on its shelves, but the people in its community. The emergence of The Women’s Library reveals a supportive network of feminist activism and a reclaiming of space in Sydney in the 1990s.

From my research, I pieced together a history of the library and told the story through Instagram posts for The Women’s Library Instagram page. Combining narrative, analysis, and description is at the heart of History, and it is one of its biggest challenges. Below are some of the stories I put together for my project and some of the Instagram tiles I created which I hope the library will use as they wish.

A snippet of my project – the history of The Women’s Library

Vicki Harding had a feeling that The Women’s Library already existed on women’s bookshelves all over Australia. So, inspired by overseas libraries dedicated to women’s studies, Vicki decided to publicise her idea in 1991 and received much support and encouragement, creating a committee to grow the library. They set about creating a space by women, for women.

In 1993 South Sydney Council provided the library’s venue in Alexandria Town Hall which opened to the public on 21 July 1994. Run entirely on donations and membership fees, it was the first of its kind in Australia and grew to house 9,000 books donated by members, authors, and publishing companies.

The library is so connected to the physical place that it inhabits and the books on its shelves, that the TWL community acts as a connection between the lasting 1990s feminism, and the quiet space provided just off King Street. Sorting through the filing room at TWL, I found a collection of posters from 1980s and 1990s feminist rallies, in particular a number of International Women’s Day posters. Below are some of the posters I had scanned and then designed to create Instagram tiles.

International Women’s Day posters held at The Women’s Library

I have thoroughly enjoyed spending time at The Women’s Library and learning about its history and people. It is a rare time capsule of the feminist activism of 1990s Sydney and is the legacy of hard-working women. So, next time you’re looking for a good book or interesting conversation, stop by The Women’s Library, just behind Newtown Library on Brown Street, and say “hello!”

 Fabricated Stories, the podcast that celebrates Vinnies 100th birthday

To celebrate their 100th birthday, my project portrays Vinnies Rozelle in a new and exciting way, in which exists the importance of my podcast titled ‘Fabricated Stories’. This community thrift store operates by the generosity of the people who volunteer, work, donate and buy pre-loved goods and it is so valuable to hear their stories and what they have to share about their connection to the place.

Vinnies 100 years banner.

The podcast form would be considered innovative in documenting oral histories – by infusing music with people’s stories narrated by the host. With my project and as noted throughout the podcast, I argue that people’s histories that can only be emerged through storytelling can be linked to a place. By collecting stories and anecdotes from people who engage with this community space, I am able to illustrate Vinnies Rozelle as a place of historical significance for different people but also the place as a whole as part of Rozelle’s community.

Emerged through the process of storytelling, themes such as celebrating local history by honouring family histories emerged. Many of the stories told linked back to memories and experiences of growing up and visiting Vinnies, especially with families that suggests that local history often begins with the stories from our families. I also argue the importance of sustainability through thrifting and donating goods by highlighting the continued relevance of Vinnies Rozelle is also through the means in which second hand goods are given another chance.

The hope is that Vinnies Rozelle will benefit most from this project as it exists to serve them and celebrate the store and the people who visit. I also hope the podcast form allows the project to reach a broader audience. While the target audience is people at all ages (although most likely 6 years and above to understand the stories), I hope I can attract a young adult listening audience who might not know about the history of Vinnies. Often thrift stores and second-hand shops are now seen as places to buy something cheap, trendy and vintage but there is a rich history attached to these places that could be overlooked in the name of fashion.

You can find my podcast here for your listening pleasure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LViyrWxQc-g&ab_channel=AngeTran

I hope you enjoy it!

The RPA Museum

My mum is a nurse and has worked in the building next door to the RPA museum for at least 10 years now, yet I never knew of the museum until taking this class. For whatever reason the RPA museum was not known to me until this semester. It is not in the main building of the hospital and is in the King George V memorial building on the 8th floor, so it’s not the most obvious or advertised location. My mum herself has never been there and she’s never spoken about it to me. I walked past that building most days during high school to my mum’s work before I could drive home. It makes me wonder what other places I often walk by that holds something very interesting and significant, that I have no awareness of. That is probably something that happens to all of us more often than we realise. I discovered the museum from this class, and I am glad I have discovered it now. The museum is built around two preserved surgical theatre suits from 1941, filled with old equipment and is one of those special artefacts where you feel the age of the room and the air of the past within it.

During Sophie Loy-Wilson’s talk in week ten she mentioned how people bought the diaries of those involved in the First World War such as soldiers and nurses, and she said that nurses’ diaries were the cheapest people could buy. This spoke to me about the lack of recognition nurses often get for their work, not only in history but even during the incredibly trying last two years. The museum hosts an abundance of archives on nurses dating back to the 19th century and I wonder perhaps there may be something there to do something on nurses who served in wartime. I will have to see about this however as I begin my work.

My contact is the curator of the museum and Director of Heritage and Environment at RPA, Scott Andrews, and Scott operates and handles the museum with the help of volunteers, until recently when all volunteers were stood down. He has also had help this year and previous years from master’s students from the University of Sydney and another student who took this subject in 2018. Like with many other local or more well-known museums, the past couple years with COVID-19 has been tough on the museum. It has been shut since early 2020 to the public and coincidentally, is finally re-opening in one months’ time, around when I will finish my project and volunteer work there. This makes my time there quite interesting and potentially important as Scott prepares to re-open the museum to the public.

The job I have discussed and begun with Scott is an inventory audit of a small collection room at the museum. Volunteers have accepted objects that may not have been recorded properly, or even at all. Some of these objects as well may have no real use or significance and so part of the task as I go through these objects is to ask the question of what is worth keeping and what is not. To get to study objects and help decide their value within the curation of a museum is a cool and interesting task, from a research and history standpoint, but also to be a part of the inner workings of a museum’s collection. Being that this archival work is my main job it will likely form the basis of my final project, though still I am not exactly sure what form that will take. I will catalogue and keep records of my findings in as I go along, and from this I hope to find something that triggers the beginning of a project. The room is full of potential as everything in there has not been catalogued or researched. Within this research there may be a story to tell, or an addition to a history of the hospital that has already been recorded. I am looking forward to the month ahead and getting stuck into archival work within a functioning public museum.

Looking for Clues at the Central Coast Family History Society.

Tucked away in a small building behind a Lyons hall is the Central Coast Family History Society. Through the front door, past the foyer to the left, is the library. The shelves are full. A collection spanning decades chronicles the history of the Central Coast. Down the hall is the main room, lined with computers; people come to research their history. Across the hall is a treasure trove. The archive room. Floor-to-ceiling boxes of records, artifacts, maps and photos. 

Family history is a unique investigative process. It is a search for clues, one leading to the next, hopefully, to reveal some significant detail. Family history uses memories, oral histories and family stories; it searches for names in archives, through birth certificates, marriage records, newspapers, and obituaries to reconstruct lives. Small community organisations, like the Central Coast Family History Society, facilitate this search. They collect the clues that build family history and keep the flame of local history alive. The Family History Society connects people of the present to the Coast of the past. 

My first visit to the Family history society was overwhelming. There were so many treasures waiting to be found on the shelves. I toured the library and the archive room, seeing the books, artifacts and photos they contained. Some of the photos and older documents had begun to fade. And so, my role became digitising these records to protect them for the future and allow them to be more easily shared and stored. 

I started with a heavy leather-bound album. It had been donated after being found in the back of the shed. Most of the photos were from the mid-1800s. What was once a treasured and expensive heirloom was now in disrepair and forgotten. Digitising is a laborious process. You must delicately remove each photo, put it through the scanner and return it to the album. Scanning each photo, you cannot help but feel you are getting to know the people. As I turned the pages, I met the Sharp family.

Not many details of their lives remain now, but the album offers clues. I saw the children born into the family, the home they lived in, the family pets. There is incredible value to be found, even in the lives of people with no family left to remember them. Digitising and record keeping are some of the important roles of local history societies. It creates clues. Hopefully, these clues will prove helpful to others in the future. 

A picture is worth a thousand words. The more we interrogate photos, the more they reveal to us. To the living family, they offer a glimpse into the past and help fill in the blank branches of family trees. But to those without sentimental familial attachments, what can we gain? Surprisingly, a lot. Photos, particularly of everyday people, give granular details like what fashions were popular. On the reverse of most is the name of the photography studio in which they were taken; this is a valuable clue. The locations of these studios allow us to trace migration. For example, the beginning of the Sharp Family Album is taken in Liverpool and the end in Sydney. We can also use it to imagine a changing Sydney. Through the listed address on the back, we can see that George Street Sydney was once populated with numerous Photography Studios. With a little speculation and imagination, photographs offer a plethora of clues. 

Being at the Family History Society is like going on a treasure hunt. You start with some clue and must use that in the search for the next one. You follow the hunt hoping in the end, you will have something meaningful. I am pleased to be playing a part in creating these clues, which will hopefully be the key to some future person’s treasure. 

Maritime Union of Australia

Jared Darcey, laying Indigo cable , Coogee (2019)

Growing up with a Father who worked in the maritime industry as a commercial diver, I was given the rare opportunity to glimpse into a career which is rarely seen or considered. Unlike an office job, my Dad’s commute to work consisted of driving down to the dock, getting on a boat, donning a wetsuit, putting on 15kg dive helmet attached to an umbilical cord providing oxygen, and descending into the depths of the sea in near zero visibility to operate. Now this is just one aspect of what workers in the maritime industry do. Workers within the maritime industry cover industries such as: diving, ferries, offshore oil and gas workers, port services, shipping, and stevedoring, operating in telecommunications, transportation, mining, and construction. Workers within the maritime industry are presented with the task of operating in one of the most isolated parts of our world. The beauty and the danger of the sea is not lost on these workers, thus that is why the:

“MUA, here to stay!”

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) celebrates its 150 year anniversary this year. Founded in 1872, as the Sydney Wharf Labourers Union, leading to the Seaman’s Union of Australia, now the MUA. The MUA has a rich history as the first maritime union in the world. Since its foundation, the protection of waterfront workers rights has been the focus of the MUA. Its history provides an interesting discussion into the changing context of the world in the face of internationalism, class struggle and capitalism and its relation to the protection of waterfront workers rights. A focal point in the MUA’s history was the ‘Hungry Mile’ during the Great Depression. The dockland area of Darling Harbour East, Sydney (where Barangaroo now is), whereby workers would walk from wharf to wharf looking for work under the “bull” system, where only the largest men were chosen first for work.

The MUA’s position in history, being at the forefront of the class struggle and the socialist cause in Australia, has confounded in their focus on the significance on the importance of social activism in protecting the rights and liberties of various groups as well as its own. The MUA over the years has been involved in anti- Vietnam war movement, anti- Apartheid movement, Women’s movement, and participated in the nuclear disarmament movement. Alongside, protecting the rights of waterfront workers, the MUA stresses the importance of social activism in gaining the equal rights of Indigenous and First Nations peoples before the rights of maritime workers. As there is no one without the other.

“…to learn from things that we’ve gone through and not to make the same mistakes”

Paddy Crumlin, National Secretary, MUA at Launch of Sydney Wharfies Mural, Australian Maritime Museum (2022)

The MUA recognises the protection of various groups rights and liberties through their motto:

Struggle, Solidarity, Unity

Upon contacting the MUA Sydney Branch secretary, Paul Garrett, and discussing some ideas of what they would like, I had the pleasure of attending the launch of the Sydney Wharfies Mural at the Australian National Maritime Museum to meet some of their members. The ‘Wharfies Mural’, originally located in the canteen area of the MUA’s office on 601 Sussex st, Sydney, the mural is a testament to the rich history of the MUA and its workers. Standing as the collective effort of its members between 1953 to 1965, while it may not be artistically elaborate, its depiction of maritime workers struggles over the years is a salient image of the MUA’s fight against injustice and class struggle.

After attending the mural launch, I was able to contextualise more of an idea of the MUA and what they do. While my initial interest stemmed from my experience growing up with a Father who worked in the maritime industry, I was immediately hooked upon learning the rich history of the MUA and how their position in history has culminated in one of the largest unions in Australia. I am very interested in their involvement in social activism, whereby their recognition of Indigenous sovereignty and Women’s rights provides a great insight into what is generally considered a highly “masculine” industry.

My project will focus on women’s involvement in MUA history, and how it has changed over the years to culminate in what it is today. I will focus particularly on one of their first female seafarers who sailed out of Brisbane, Gizelle “Gus” Konow. In looking at Gus’ story, I will be able to contextualise and map a history of women’s involvement in the maritime industry. I will attempt to do this through gathering information and stories on her from other MUA members, co-workers, family and friends. In doing so I will be interacting with a form of oral history that will speak to both the struggle and efforts of women in a historically ‘masculine’ industry. To aid me in this, the MUA has given me access to various contacts that will help me to track down and contact people. They have allowed me to work with their Film Unit and utilise any of the sources they have. This will be helpful in utilised resources while would not be available for public record, as well as visualising an industry for which I have little experience in.

Bankstown Canterbury City Council: Local Libraries

I have lived in the Bankstown and Canterbury area my whole life and remember how I would always reconnect with friends after school at the local library. I remember studying for my HSC there before my tutoring classes and making friends with other students in my cohort through those study sessions. We shared the same experiences of stress and procrastination in the library and were connected through this comfortable space. The online HSC resources they provided through their eLibrary were super helpful as I was able to get a hold of last-minute study resources. Other services they provide include the lending of resources, acquisitions, programmes, and Local and Family History.

Ground Floor of Bankstown Library

Their work for the community appealed to me because it brought community members together to share cultural knowledge and experiences through language, inclusivity, and local family history services. The resources and services they provide help these community members thrive and create voices for marginalised cultural groups, people with disabilities, and local low-income communities, as most of their events are free. Currently, different libraries within the Canterbury Bankstown City Council are hosting programmes such as ‘Let’s Go First Nations’ to celebrate and embrace Indigenous culture. They aim to educate and showcase different aspects of First Nations culture through cultural workshops, digeridoo performances, spiritual ceremonies, traditional art classes, and Dreamtime Preschool Story Times.

Outside of Bankstown Library & Knowledge Centre

Whilst searching for an organisation to collaborate with, I was introduced to the Local History Librarian, Jennifer Madden, who works at the Bankstown and Campsie libraries. Both libraries are categorised under the same city council structure (Canterbury Bankstown City Council). Once we met in person, we discussed how the libraries fit within my project’s “organisation” aspect. She informed me about the range of services the council provides for the local community. During our discussion, I suggested a virtual walking tour of the local sites in Bankstown. However, the public format of a website was not ideal as it would have to be approved by the council. After much consideration, we both agreed that a historical walking tour generated with QR codes would be appropriate for my project and serve as a helpful resource to the library’s local history services. My project could be utilised as an example for future project proposals for interactive walking tours to be approved by council officials. Resources such as their past brochures of local walking tours will help guide which sites will be included in the tour. Jennifer requested the tour to have QR codes linked to the information on the history behind that site. These QR codes will be placed on signposts next to the sites.

Campsie Library & Knowledge Centre

My project will benefit the community as it engages them with the history of their local area outside of the classroom and later be translated into different languages. The primary languages of the city council area include English, Korean, Arabic, and Vietnamese. This walking tour will remain open-ended and not static as more sites can be added in the future. I will present the QR codes through a PowerPoint presentation with images of the sites and linked information on their contexts.

Local History Room at Bankstown Library

House of Welcome Table Talk

I discovered House of Welcome (HoW) following a discussion with a friend. I was talking to her about this class, telling her that I wanted to find an organisation that worked in the refugee space. One of the reasons for this is I strongly believe that refugees and people seeking asylum should be treated with respect when they come to Australia.  I know that our government doesn’t always do this and it makes me very angry, especially as someone whose family was once in this situation. How we treat migrants, refugees and people seeking asylum eventually makes it into our history books. I don’t want to just sit back and see these experiences and injustices pass by. 

In 2022, following the Novak Djokovic scandal, where he was held in an immigration detention facility, I became aware of the Park hotel in Melbourne where refugees were being held. After reading a newspaper article talking about the hotel; detailing the stories of people who were living there, how they worried about Covid, and that the health and living conditions were subpar, I was angry. I was angry and shocked that I did not know that this hotel existed. I was aware of the offshore detention process however I was not aware of the hotel in Melbourne. I was angry because neither the news nor newspapers were reporting on it. 

I kept asking myself why a country as rich as Australia was putting people through experiences like that? People who had been deemed as refugees by the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation. In my mind, my Australia could not do that. After all, I believed that we were a fair dinkum country that celebrated egalitarianism. I was also angry because the migrant experience is integral to Australia, to its identity and historical narrative. We are a country of migrants, whether it be recent migrants or migrants from 1788. As of the 2021 census 27.6% of the population were born overseas. That is why when I was talking to my friend I was immediately drawn to House of Welcome because I realised that this was my opportunity to get involved and have a say. 

House of Welcome is an organisation that welcomes, shelters and empowers people seeking asylum and refugees. It helps people of all ages, genders, sexualities, nationalities and religion. Their purpose is to ‘[t]o uphold the intrinsic dignity of each person by providing support and advocacy to empower the most disadvantaged and marginalised within our community.’ They achieve this through their activities and programs which address homelessness, destitution and social isolation among people seeking asylum.

For my project I am organising a Table Talk. A Table Talk is part of the listening component of the organising cycle. A listening session is a collection of table talks – where a small group of people discuss their experiences/stories in relation to an issue, or topic together around a table. It is a gathering of people where they share stories and hear the pressures that their community faces, usually on a particular topic and issue. These stories will decide on the pressures the majority of people face and what an organisation will first work on to solve.

My project will be the report that I write after the event, because that report will become a historical document. It will record the event, what happened, what was discussed, who attended and it will be of use to the organisation as it will guide their future actions.