Organisers of the 2021 Oral History Award, awarded jointly by Oral History Victoria, the Royal Historical Society and Public Records Office Victoria, have announced the shortlisted nominees.

  • COVID Kids Oral History Project – Way Back When Consulting Historians.
  • End of an Era: The Last Gippsland Lakes Fishermen – Lynda Mitchelson-Twigg, representing the Gippsland Lakes commercial fishing community, assisted by Nikki and Leigh Henningham, Tanya King, Donna Squire and Geoff Stanton.
  • In the Eye of the Storm: Volunteers and Australia’s Response to the HIV/AIDS Crisis – Robert Reynolds, Shirleene Robinson, Paul Sendziuk.
  • Understanding Through Testimony – Jewish Holocaust Centre.

See the nominees at our AGM

The shortlisted nominees have agreed to present a brief overview of their work at the Oral History Victoria Annual General Meeting scheduled for 28 October 2021, 5:30pm to 7:30pm. Find out more about our AGM at https://oralhistoryvictoria.org.au/event/oral-history-victoria-award-presentations-and-agm-2021/.

Find out more about the shortlisted nominees.

COVID Kids Oral History Project (Way Back When Consulting Historians)

The COVID pandemic turned Victorian life upside down, not least for children who had to comprehend the health crisis, negotiate new ways of living, and study from home. In this bold and imaginative project, the team at Way Back When interviewed 50 Victorians aged between 4 and 19 about their experience of the pandemic in 2020. The team overcame the multiple challenges of interviewing children – and of interviewing online – to produce an archive of rich and provocative accounts. The elegant and engaging COVID Kids online video is carefully constructed to illuminate key themes, such as What is COVID?, What are the rules? What is lockdown like? and How did you cope? It brings to life the distinctive insights and feelings of each kid, captured in words, voice and physical expression (so expressive!). We can see how the relationship between each child and their interviewer (pictured alongside each other on a split screen) enabled sad, funny and profound reflections about young people’s pandemic lives. See https://www.waybackwhen.com.au/covid-kids

End of an Era: The Last Gippsland Lakes Fishermen (Lynda Mitchelson-Twigg, representing the Gippsland Lakes commercial fishing community, assisted by Nikki and Leigh Henningham, Tanya King, Donna Squire and Geoff Stanton)

In April 2020 the long history of commercial fishing in the Gippsland Lakes ended by government decree. End of an Era is a community-based oral history and photography project that combines the expertise of members of the fishing community alongside academic researchers and professional historians and photographers. The interviews and images capture the life histories of the men and women of the Gippsland Lakes fishing industry, and its profound significance for each narrator and for their community. The interview collection is archived at the National Library of Australia where it will be available for future research. The project team curated a travelling exhibition which has been enjoyed in Lakes Entrance, Geelong and Melbourne Docklands, and which comes to Paynesville in the coming months. A beautifully produced website represents the exhibition and visitor responses, and showcases the photographs alongside twelve of the interviews. Each narrator brings the world of commercial fishing to life, from the intricacy of meshing and seining, to the habits of different sea creatures, to the sounds, smells and sights of an environment they love and know so well. See https://gippslandfishermen.wixsite.com/endofanera/gallery

In the Eye of the Storm: Volunteers and Australia’s Response to the HIV/AIDS Crisis (Robert Reynolds, Shirleene Robinson, Paul Sendziuk)

In the Eye of the Storm is a book based on 67 interviews with men and women who volunteered during the worst years of Australia’s HIV/AIDS crisis. The recorded interviews have been deposited in the Australian Queer Archives in Melbourne and are accessible to all. The book is structured around 12 of the narrators, each of whom explains how and why they became volunteers, what they did – from working on phone helplines, to taking needles or condom packs to vulnerable communities, to caring for young men as they died or planning their funerals – and how the experience often had a profound effect on their subsequent lives. The book makes an invaluable contribution to the history of Australian volunteering (which has neglected LGBTQI volunteers) and to the history of HIV/AIDS. Each life story is told in a separate chapter that carefully weaves together extracts from interviews with historical and cultural analysis. Each chapter is written by the interviewer, and captures the intimate relationship of the interview as it enabled thoughtful reflection and moving testimony. See https://www.newsouthbooks.com.au/books/eye-storm/

Understanding Through Testimony (Jewish Holocaust Centre)

The Jewish Holocaust Centre (JHC) in Elsternwick, created by Melbourne’s Jewish Holocaust survivors and their descendants, is home to one of the world’s most important collections of interviews with Holocaust survivors. In recent years the JHC has been devising ways to retain survivor testimony at the heart of the JHC. Understanding Through Testimony is a web-based resource for schools that curates extracts from 26 interviews with survivors, arranged by topics: The Rise of Nazism, Outbreak of War, The Ghettos, The Camps, and Life After the War. A set of tutorial videos provide background information and suggestions for teaching. The web resource is carefully constructed so student users can follow a theme or a narrator. As each narrator speaks to us through the screen, we are drawn into the appalling detail and powerful emotion of Jewish life in occupied Europe, and learn historical lessons with contemporary resonance about the terrible consequences of racism. See https://jhc.org.au/education/virtual-learning/understanding-through-testimony/