Tom Doig, author of The Coal Face

Oral History Victoria Innovation Awards 2016

The 2016 OHV Community Innovation Award went to Behind the Wire (Michael Green, Andre Dao, Angelica Neville, Dana Affleck, Sienna Merope). Details on how to enter the 2017 awards will be available on this page in the coming months. Please visit our News section for information about past winners.

In 2016, the OHV judges shortlisted four wonderful entries, each of which were Highly Commended for innovation in creating and using oral history. These were outstanding examples of projects that are working with memories to make histories with contemporary relevance.

Each of the shortlisted project delivered fascinating presentations for OHV members at the Awards Ceremony on Thursday 27 October 2016, at the Royal Historical Society Victoria building.


Behind the Wire (Michael Green, Andre Dao, Angelica Neville, Dana Affleck, SieBehind the Wire website nna Merope)
Behind the Wire is an oral history project documenting the stories of men, women and children who have been detained by the Australian government after seeking asylum in Australia. It brings a new perspective on mandatory detention by sharing the reality of the people who have lived it. Through in depth interviews with current and ex-detainees, Behind the Wire captures narrators’ histories, experiences of seeking protection in Australia and the detailed reality of mandatory detention. Working with narrators, these interviews are edited into first person narratives that take the form of literary short stories. The project comprises a website, Facebook channel, book, audiobook, podcast, listening parties, videos, portrait photography and a museum exhibition. Further details at

Highly Commended

The Chungking Legation: Australia’s diplomatic mission in wartime China (Sophie Couchman, Jean Chen, Kate Bagnall)
The Chungking Legation project explores the history of Australia’s third overseas diplomatic mission, the Chungking Legation, established in China’s wartime capital of Chongqing in 1941. A bilingual exhibition (in China, and in Melbourne at the Chinese Museum until 10 November 2016) together with a book and video – were created by Melbourne’s Chinese Museum in partnership with the Australian Consulate-General Chengdu and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The project drew heavily on National Library of Australia oral history recordings to illuminate the experiences of Australians who lived and worked at the legation between 1941 and 1946. Oral histories, enhanced with archival documents and photographs, provided insight into the experiences of the Legation staff and the sights, sounds and smells of wartime Chungking. Further details at

Expectant (Somebody’s Daughter Theatre Company)
Somebody’s Daughter Theatre is a company of artists who work with those who are the most marginalised in our community, empower them and give them a voice. The Company’s 2016 work was a collaborative process between 46 incarcerated women and five artists who specialise in drama, music, art and digital media.  The production titled “Expectant” (performed in August at Dame Phyllis Frost Centre in Deer Park) captured the lives of the women, their hopes and expectations, and the grinding reality of their “real” stories of domestic violence on the outside – after they are released. This work challenges society’s perceptions of women, and in particular, women who are imprisoned.  Further details at

“Who are we now?” An oral history project for the Australasian College of Dermatologists (Emma Russell, History at Work)
With a shoestring budget, professional historian Emma Russell recorded oral history interviews with seven pioneering dermatologists, and then conducted ‘witness seminars’ through which another 44 members of the Victorian dermatology community shared their memories in collective conversations. From this recorded material, together with donated photos and archive documents, Emma created ‘digital stories’ that were played at Dermatology Faculty events. These digital stories, together with online videos of images and a proposed e-book, are stimulating further interest in the history of the profession, and encouraging other members to share their memories. Further details at