What is Oral History Australia?

The Oral History Association of Australia (OHAA) was formed in 1978 and in 2013 was re-named Oral History Australia (OHA). It remains a non-profit body whose members practise and promote oral history.

Independently incorporated oral history associations operate in each state, with the Northern Territory being affiliated with South Australia and the ACT with New South Wales.

The aims of OHA are:

  • to promote the practice and methods of oral history
  • to educate in the use of oral history methods
  • to encourage discussions on all aspects of oral history
  • to foster the preservation of oral history records

State and National conferences are held regularly, focusing on current and future oral history projects as well as ongoing and evolving issues such as ethics and copyright. National conferences usually include international speakers. 

The Oral History Australia Journal is published annually and its contents reflect the diversity and vitality of oral history practice in Australia. Items for publication may be accepted from overseas-based contributors.

The constitution of Oral History Australia may be accessed here: Oral_History_Australia_Inc_Constitution_adopted_22.9.13-2.pdf

Most States hold regular meetings, seminars and workshops to meet the objectives of the organisation.

States encourage members to lodge their work with libraries and archives for preservation and the benefit of other researchers.

Some States provide recording equipment either free or at very low rates to members, or can recommend institutions which do.

What is Oral History?

  • Oral History is the recording of memories of people's unique life experiences. Often the only way to find out about the past is to ask someone who knows about it.
  • Oral history creates a record or supplements existing ones. Through oral history the past comes alive. People can be much more interesting than documents.
  • Oral history preserves the past for now and for the future.
    The recording of oral history is a two-way process in which someone shares memories with an interviewer who has carefully planned an interview.
  • Oral history preserves voices, accents and vocabularies of individuals interviewed.

How may it be used?

  • for the life histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other groups who may be poorly represented in written sources
  • to trace the history of a local community
  • for family history
  • to encourage children to treat people as living history books, at the same time increasing understanding between generations
  • for research purposes in tertiary education studies
  • in corporate and institutional histories
  • in museums to enliven displays
  • in publications to capture readers imaginations
  • in radio, television and plays to promote authentic voices of the past
  • for inclusion in interactive websites