President’s Report


By now members would have received notice of our AGM and Annual Lecture. It promises to be a stimulating and enjoyable event. We are delighted that Bill Bunbury OAM, oral historian extraordinaire, has agreed to give the 2019 History Council Annual Lecture. After Bill’s lecture we will hold the state launch of the Value of History Statement. This has been months in development with the History Councils of NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia sharing ideas in an impressive display of national camaraderie and solidarity. It has been endorsed unanimously by your Committee. The statement is an inspirational document that had its first airing at the Australian Historical Association AGM on 11 July 2019 and will be rolled out at History Council AGMs over the next few months. Thanks to the ongoing support of the State Library of WA, we look forward to sharing it with members at our AGM in the SLWA’s Great Southern Room at 5:30 pm on 22 August 2019.

Following our concerns about the status of History in the Year 11 and 12 Curriculum, we were delighted to welcome Cathy Baron, President of the History Teachers’ Association of WA, to a recent Committee meeting to update us on the present situation. She made the following key points

  • Many schools do not offer Australian history units in Yrs 11 and 12

  • Extra support is available to schools to support STEM (Science Technology Engineering Maths) subjects

  • STEAM (STEM with Arts) is not having an impact

  • Perception that history is a difficult subject

  • Skills learnt in history need to be promoted and linked to career paths and employment.

In view of this we have established a History in Schools Working Party (Kyra Edwards, Vanessa Kirkham, Bri McKenzie and Samantha Owen). Members will be showcasing History at the Humanities and Social Sciences Week “HASS Matters Information Evening” at UWA on 7 August 2019. See  for details of HASS Week. We will also be utilising the Value of History Statement in our campaign to support History teaching.

In late 2018 we wrote to the Prime Minister in support of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition Relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples 2018 (available at has recommended that ‘the Australian Government support the process of truth-telling. This could include the involvement of local organisations and communities, libraries, historical societies and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander associations. These projects should include both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and descendants of local settlers.’ In consequence, with Reconciliation WA, we will be jointly hosting a Symposium on Truth Telling and Historians.

Please mark your diaries for History Council events over the coming months. Our Ideas Forum on 13 October, our Symposium on Truth Telling and Historians on 10 November, and our Christmas Sundowner on 5 December 2019.

As this issue of the newsletter was going to press we were shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Dr Lise Summers, archivist, historian, past President of the History Council, valued colleague and friend. There will be an obituary in the next newsletter.


Jenny Gregory 

Flametree Creative