Friday, June 1, 2012

The future of history in South Australia

The History Council of South Australia hosted a talk on "the future of history in South Australia" on 24 May.  Four speakers shared their views, Margaret Anderson (CEO of HistorySA), Peter Goers (Radio announcer, author), Heidi Ing (Librarian), Paul Sendziuk (Adelaide Uni History lecturer).

Margaret talked about the success of History Month and the inaugural Open House program.  This year we have 513 evens which over 94,000 people will participate in.  History is popular and now has a life in the political arena.  The ANZAC centenary has gained support from the government who are investing large sums of money.

Peter also praised the About Time festival as it is cheap and inclusive.  He was more cynical in that younger generations aren't involved and we often stuff up history (Arts festival with a car race in the middle of it).  ANZAC day is the only 'felt' historical event we have and their has certainly been a revival of late.

Heidi talked of how to engage younger people, that is mainly through digital media.  Younger generations want immediate access and want to see result straight away. People now want indexes that are linked to original documents, and the ability to contribute.

Paul spoke of an increase in interest of Australian history at the University, unlike other states.  We are lucky in SA to still have access to original resources and repositories.

General discussion followed which highlighted some concerns, as the emphasis on military history, and ANZAC day. Will this be all we know about history? 
Another point discussed was whether the government is shirking its responsibilities in regards to heritage?  They have allowed volunteers to do much of the work, and heritage properties are being looked after by the National Trust.  The National Trust is in financial trouble and may have to sell off some of its 43 properties, the government won't step in, and once again heritage buildings may be lost.

In was an interesting talk, and raised several good points.  The good news is that history in South Australia looks healthy, and will prosper into the near future.

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