Oral History Australia
Giving Voice to the Past

INAUGURAL ORAL HISTORY SYMPOSIUM - OUR STORIES, OUR WAY MAY 2016 REPORT

by | August 10, 2016

                                                     REPORT FROM

OUR STORIES – OUR WAY INDIGENOUS ORAL HISTORY SYMPOSIUM

Thursday, 5 May 2016 State Library of Western Australia, Perth




The inaugural Our Stories, Our Way Indigenous oral history symposium was held at the State Library of Western Australia in Perth on 5 May 2016. The symposium was an initiative of a new Indigenous oral history research group which emerged from the National Conference of Oral History Australia in Perth in September 2015.  The symposium was facilitated by Dr Elfie Shiosaki from the Centre for Human Rights Education at Curtin University.

                                                               Dr Elfie Shiosaki

The symposium brought together community members and oral historians to explore new methodologies for preserving Indigenous oral histories which empower Indigenous peoples to tell their own stories in their own ways.

 Prominent Māori oral historian, Dr Nēpia Mahuika from the University of Waikato in New Zealand, was the keynote speaker at the symposium. Dr Mahuika said that this was the first specifically Indigenous oral history symposium he was aware of anywhere in the world.

 Other speakers at the symposium included Dr Lorina Barker from the University of New England, Professor Anna Haebich from Curtin University, Sadie Heckenberg from the University of Melbourne, Dr Michelle Johnston from Curtin, Damien Webb from the State Library and Michelle White from the Community Arts Network (CAN).

 Dr Mahuika and Dr Sue Anderson from the University of South Australia ran a collaborative workshop about the ethics and practice of Indigenous oral history. 

The symposium and workshop celebrated Indigenous cultures and knowledges and the rich oral traditions which pass these down from one generation to the next.

Speakers at the symposium argued that Indigenous oral history was much more than an interview methodology, it was a continuing practice of oral traditions. They called for greater recognition within the discipline of history of the Indigenous ways of knowing which frame oral traditions, and for Indigenous practices of history to be relocated from the periphery of the discipline to its centre.

This event was supported by Curtin University, the University of New England, the University of South Australia and the National Film and Sound Archive.