At our 2015 AGM, the Oral History Victoria Innovation Award winners were announced, as well as the highly commended entries.  There were two categories of Award – Community and Education.

Education Innovation Award


The Coal Face

An outstanding fusion of oral history, journalism and political activism. Tom Doig has worked hard and well to collect impressive first person accounts of the Morwell fire and of the time before and after; he has written a compelling account that threads those accounts into his narrative almost seamlessly, so that although the book and the framing is his, the evidence and the power comes from the testimony. This is, by any measure an impressive and innovative example of contemporary activist oral history.


JOINT WINNER: Sharon Huebner,

Nidjuuk, Niih, Kaatitjin – Look, Learn, Listen

Such an impressive project. This project aimed to recover the story of Bessie Flowers, Noongar woman who went with 4 others from WA to Victoria in the 1860s, where she married a Koorie man, through archival research in WA and Victoria, and interviews in both states with descendants. The project is also about family memory and loss of that memory, and about the processes and significance of recovering family memory in indigenous communities. The manuscript, which will be a book published by Fremantle Arts Centre Press, is beautifully presented, with colour line drawings and maps, stunning archival and recent photos; carefully edited and juxtaposed archive material (from colonial administrators and clergy, from Bessy’s letters, from Board correspondence) with interviews that trace the descendants’ own lives in each state and their responses to the recovery of Bessie’s images and stories. This is wonderful: moving, insightful, challenging and important for the extended family, and for all of us.

COMMENDED: Alyce Bailey,

Ringwood Secondary School year 9 Digital History course

An impressive year 9 course at Ringwood Secondary School in which the students interview a family member or neighbour about migration to Australia, and then create a 3 minute digital history using the template and resources provided by the Museum Victoria Making History website. Some of the student videos are available on Vimeo and they make engaging and effective use of oral history, together with images, graphics and music, to illuminate the migration experience.

Community Innovation Award

WINNER: Rose Turtle Ertler,

Rebel Elders

This work is tremendously impressive, in conception, creation, production and performance. The idea of focusing interviews with elders on ‘rebellion’ was inspired, and the resulting interviews clearly produced some wonderful, compelling, moving stories. Getting 10 young musicians to create music for each story was an inspired example of intergenerational practice. Combining narrated story, music and performance was just wonderful, indeed breathtaking. We love the way the elders focus on performing while their stories are played, and how their faces and bodies capture aspects of the story yet also take it in new directions that engage directly with the audience. The film of the performance, and the shorter clips give the viewer a good sense of a stunning live production.

COMMENDED: Sarah Rood, Katherine Sheedy, Fiona Poulton & Lucy Bracey, Way Back When Consulting Historians,

Our Stories: The Sephardi Association of Victoria

This a fine example of professional historians working with a community group (and sharing authority) to make an accessible, engaging website that showcases community objects and oral histories. We love the simplicity of the site, the use of objects as the starting place for migrant and ethnic community stories, the quality of the photographs and audio recordings, and the use of SoundCloud as way of storing and accessing audio clips. In short, this project suggests and showcases new ways of doing community oral history.

COMMENDED: Melissa Walsh and Judy Hughes,

The Road Safety Campaign 1967-1972

What an original and effective use of oral history from the Young Christian Workers Archive. This is innovative and effective in several ways: using oral history to illuminate the role of the YCW in a transformative social and political campaign about road safety in the late 1960s, and a YCW learning and activist approach that is still relevant; combining extracts from interviews with animated film to create a well-crafted and engaging video output; placing that video on YouTube to reach younger audiences. The use of animation is especially innovative and effective.