Tomorrow I start a new job at Sydney Uni as the Project Coordinator of the NSW Centenary of Anzac Book Project. To say that I am excited about spending the next year or so rummaging around in the photo collections of the State Library of NSW, State Records, the NSW War Memorial and a range of other institutions to find images of life in NSW during World War I would be a serious understatement. Squee!
[inspired by this Guardian Australia report about forecast cuts to news and current affairs on ABC TV and radio]
I am a 45 year old historian, who pretty much lives online, owing to a series of paid jobs as a digital content producer and an obsession with news and current affairs, as well as twitter. When I am not online I am listening to ABC Radio, or watching ABC TV live, by podcast and iView. I am exactly the demographic you need to keep (and I’m raising three kids to be ABC fanatics as well).
As a historian, I particularly value the work of the Hindsight unit, and have myself contributed research and my voice for two stories this year – one aired in March and the other this weekend. I volunteered my time for these programs because I believe in them, and I have been impressed by the depth of research of the producers. Hindsight is so respected by historians that it regularly earns awards from peers, as it did this year in the multi-media category at the NSW Premiers’ History Award.
Programs like Hindsight, Stateline and Lateline provide quality research that endures beyond the news cycle – I regularly listen to five year old ABC programs in my work. They add value to the ABC’s digital presence, and make it worth wading through the stream of news grabs. Having lived and worked in Tasmania and regional New South Wales, I also understand the value of local content. I mourn the cuts already made, and cannot imagine what it will be like for those communities if they don’t hear from Stateline or Bush Telegraph, which tell stories of the places they live.
There has to be space for reflection and research in ABC content. Digital doesn’t have to mean dumb – if anything, the flexibility of digital broadcasting is an argument for providing rich content and diverse voices across a range of platforms. But you have to keep making that content, using trusted names that hold your older demographic, but keep us younger ones engaged.
Dr Naomi Parry
Sent from my iPad
Thursday was a milestone for me, as it was my last official day with the Find & Connect web resource. I was distracted from this sad moment by the Canberra launch of Silent System: Forgotten Australians and the institutionalisation of women and children, edited by Paul Ashton and Jacqueline Z Wilson and published just days ago by Australian Scholarly Publishing. I’m proud to say it contains an article by me, called ‘Tracing the Past: the Find & Connect web resource’, which sits amongst work by Shurlee Swain and Nell Musgrove, Lily Hibberd, Wilson and Ashton, Dolly McKinnon, Tracy Ireland, Denis Byrne, Maria Tumarkin and many other luminaries. The book explores women’s incarceration, sites of conscience, and memory.
As I’ve noted previously on this blog, Silent System came about after a conference last September, that engaged with the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct and the women and children who lived at the site, under government supervision, from 1820 until the last decade of the 20th century. The site has, in stages, contained the Parramatta Female Factory, the Male Orphan School, the Roman Catholic Orphan School and, under various names, the Girls Industrial School. It contains ancient buildings and a lot of hard-lived history, and has been the focus of a ten-year campaign by Bonney Djuric, founder of Parragirls, for public recognition of the critical heritage values of the site and its value as a Site of Conscience.
As it turned out, on the day of the launch the NSW Premier announced that the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct [North Parramatta Heritage Precinct] will be sensitively redeveloped as a cultural heritage precinct. This is a huge achievement for Bonney, and for a number of key groups in the area.
One of the best things about working on the Find & Connect web resource was engaging with committed stakeholders and advocates like Bonney. I’m very much hoping to maintain my involvement, into the future.