Funding crisis at the National Archives

‘The Age’ editorial (26/4) highlights the critical situation facing the National Archives of Australia and its core mission: in its own words, to collect ”records of Australian government decisions and actions as evidence. We do this to connect Australians with the nation's memory, their identity and history.”

Archives all over the world are confronting similar problems of managing rapidly increasing digital records while preserving vast print, oral and other records in different, often fragile formats. They all need the government financial support necessary to do this securely and durably. Ours are no exception.

Australian historians now report inordinate delays in gaining access to records not yet examined for access clearance. Delays of more than five years before researchers hear the results of their requests for access are now commonplace. There is even a reluctance for supervisors to recommend doctoral research topics that might draw on archival records, for fear that it would not be possible to complete a thesis in timely manner.

Studying our past and telling our stories is critical to our sense of belonging, to recovering hidden and awkward histories, and to creating our shared future. Our National Archives are the core resource for these stories as well as the indispensable repository of official records. We cannot afford to compromise on which records are kept or on the quality of their maintenance.

 

Professor Peter McPhee, Chair, History Council of Victoria

 

Edited letter can be seen here: https://theage.com.au/national/victoria/for-the-needy-schools-more-money-is-critical-20210429-p57nm1.html

Article in Australian Book Review can be seen here: https://www.australianbookreview.com.au/features/book-talk/464-book-talk/7765-the-digital-cliff-protecting-the-national-archives-of-australia-by-peter-mcphee


The History Council is the peak body for history in the State, with the objective of furthering historical literacy and awareness and inspiring public engagement with the past and its importance for understanding the world today. The council includes representatives from cultural and educational institutions and heritage bodies; history teachers and curriculum advisors; academic and professional historians; and local, Indigenous, community and specialist history organisations.

This response is supported by a majority of individual board members but does not necessarily represent the views of all of the institutions they represent.

About

The History Council of Victoria Incorporated (HCV) is the peak body for history in the Australian state of Victoria. Its vision is to connect Victorians with history and to inspire engagement with the past, their identity and the world today. The HCV champions the work of historians and the value of history. It recognises that history can be written about any place, any person, any period. The HCV advocates why history matters.


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As the peak body for history in Victoria, the History Council makes submissions on current issues. In doing this, the HCV Board is guided by its Advocacy Policy and by the Value of History, a statement developed co-operatively by the HCV and the History Councils of New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.


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Since 2015, the HCV has been pleased to sponsor the Years 9 and 10 category of the Historical Fiction Competition organised by the History Teachers' Association of Victoria.


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Summary

The HCV was formed as an advisory body in 2001 and incorporated in 2003. It comprises representatives from cultural and educational institutions and heritage bodies; history teachers and curriculum advisors; academic and professional historians; and local, Indigenous, community and specialist history organisations.

As the peak body for history, the HCV has both ‘outward-looking’ roles (including advocacy and representation to government and the wider community, consultation, community education, and networking with allied interest groups) and ‘inward-looking’ roles (including member support, information dissemination, and networking between members).

 
 

 

 

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