Past events

Previous PHA (NSW & ACT) events. Click on the sections to expand.

6 October 2021

This month in History Matters we consider the multifaceted role of the commissioned historian. Referring to recent projects, our speakers will discuss the diverse nature of their work and provide insights into how professional historians approach the historical contract. We will also hear about the rewards and challenges of producing commissioned histories in recent times. 


Sarah Rood and Katherine Sheedy are part of Way Back When Consulting Historians, a team of professional historians who have been researching, writing and producing history for over 15 years. They have completed over 30 commissioned histories, as well as numerous exhibitions, oral history projects, heritage projects and digital histories. Way Back When is passionate about uncovering and telling stories and supporting communities to make connections to the past that inform and give meaning to the present. 

Robert Crawford is Professor of Advertising in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University. He is currently working on histories of Cadbury chocolate in Australia and Griffiths Brothers coffee roasters. His most recent publications are Digital Dawn in Adland: Transforming Australian Agencies (2021) and Decoding Coca-Cola: A Biography of a Global Brand (2021). 

Chair: Pauline Curby has worked as a freelance professional historian since the early 1990s and has undertaken consultancies in oral history, environmental history and heritage, as well as writing a number of commissioned histories. In 2010 her publication Randwick won the NSW Premier’s Award for Regional and Community History.

Viewable on YouTube

4 August 2021

Environmental history is a critical research area in a time of changing climate and the pressures of over-development and over-harvesting on biodiversity. Grappling with historical change in ocean and estuary places shows new ways to think about the collective future. Our speakers share their projects that steer a path through saltwater zones.  How has history made a difference to oyster reefs in NSW estuaries and the way we understand the Southern Ocean? 

Alessandro Antonello is a senior research fellow in history at Flinders University in South Australia. He is an environmental historian working on questions of international environmental protection, knowledge, policy, and geopolitics in the second half of the twentieth century, currently concentrating on the world ocean and Antarctica. He is the author of The Greening of Antarctica: Assembling the International Environment (2019). 

Charlotte Jenkins is an aquatic ecologist and fisheries manager with the NSW Department of Primary Industry. She is a key project team member undertaking oyster reef restoration in estuaries along the New South Wales Coast. Oyster reefs were once a common feature of estuary life in Australia, however, since 1788 colonisers have destroyed 98% of them. One aspect of this project is historical research to map the early locations of oyster reefs. 

Chair: Anna Clark is an Associate Professor in the Australian Centre for Public History, University of Technology, Sydney. While her academic focus is on the history of education, she is also a keen fisherwoman, travelling all over Australia to cast a line and set a net. Her passion led her to author Australia’s first comprehensive history of fishing, titled The Catch: The Story of Fishing in Australia.

Viewable on YouTube

2 June 2021

Chair: Maria Savvidis

Organiser: Scott McKinnon

This continent has a multilingual history that is many millennia old, yet much of our current historical practice continues to centre English and reflects a monolingual mindset. In this session, we will hear from practitioners working with multiple languages. As audio storytellers and Indigenous language educators, the presenters discuss ways through which to value linguistic diversity and develop a fuller and more inclusive understanding of Australia’s multilingual past and present.

Rhiannon Wright is a proud Boorooberongal woman from the Darug Nation who is the daughter of Leanne ‘Mulgo’ Watson and granddaughter of Darug Elder Aunty Edna Watson. Rhiannon has grown up on Darug Country and spent her life learning her Culture, Traditions and Language through her mother and grandmother, in turn passing on and sharing this knowledge to her daughter, Lyra, keeping the unbroken chain of Culture that has extended for thousands of years alive and strong through the generations. Rhiannon is currently a part of Darug Custodian Aboriginal Corporation and also the Aboriginal Education Officer at Windsor South Public School where she very proudly shares and connects Culture, Language and Knowledge with students and the wider Community.

Jasmine Seymour A member of the Darug Custodian Aboriginal Corporation, Jasmine is the descendant of Maria Lock. Maria Lock was a prominent Burubiranggal woman in early colonial Sydney and the daughter of renowned Elder, Yarramundi. Jasmine is a Darug language activist, who has recently completed a Master of Indigenous Language Education at Sydney University. 

She is also an artist who works with lino print, watercolours and ink. Her work is inspired by the Sydney rock engravings and is a response to the stories they still hold and tell every day.It is Jasmine’s wish that through her art and her books, everyone will know that the Darug mob are still here, still strong. Jasmine is a primary school teacher in the Hawkesbury area of NSW. 

In 2019, Jasmine illustrated and authored “Baby Business” and “Cooee Mittigar”, both young children’s books about smoking ceremony and Darug Country respectively.  In 2020, Jasmine illustrated the book “Family”, a second in the series “Our Place” which minds to Indigenous cultural philosophies. “Family” shares ways in which Family makes us whole.

Masako Fukui is a bilingual journalist, independent writer and award winning audio producer. She regularly makes documentaries at ABC RN. She was the audio producer on the Cowra Voices, project, an audio storytelling app which won the Oral History NSW Community History Award 2020. In 2019, she co-produced a five part podcast for ABC about multilingual Australia called Tongue Tied and Fluent.

Viewable on YouTube

7 April 2021

In this session, three speakers discuss the production of histories that inspire communities to reconsider and reconnect with their past in creative and meaningful ways. These innovative storytellers consider how community histories can utilise a range of media, including photography, oral history and geo-locative mobile apps, to construct powerful insights into a particular time and place.  

Therese Sweeney has been documenting and developing multi-modal community histories since 1994.  Her project, On the Fringes: South West Sydney 1994-2014, is a 20-year study of social and cultural life on the outskirts of Sydney that combines photography, oral history and new media.  Her latest history, Our Greatest Horseman, Vic Gough will be published later this year. 

Jacque Schultze is an arts consultant and administrator who has worked in exhibition, volunteer and facility management. She was previously the Director of the Cowra Regional Art Gallery and Creative Programs Director at Belconnen Arts Centre. Jacque was the Cowra Voices Project Director. 

Lawrance Ryan is a community historian who has written a number of local histories, and is a senior member of the editorial team of the Australian Railway Historical Society’s Railway Digest magazine. A long-serving member of the Cowra Tourism Corporation, he has led hundreds of community history and heritage tours and currently oversees Cowra’s relationship with history partners in Japan.  

ChairLaila Ellmoos is a historian at the City of Sydney and the author of three books including Our Island Home: a history of Peat Island. Laila is passionate about communicating history to a wide range of audiences through exhibitions, talks and the written word.  

Viewable on YouTube

3 March 2021

Women’s history has burst into the public domain over recent months. Several feature films focused on women’s battle for equality in the 1960s and 1970s, a new statue dedicated to women’s rights campaigner Mary Wollstonecraft sparked intense international public debate, and the Australian project Invisible Farmer connected us to the experiences of women on the land.  Two speakers involved with projects on the history of women’s work will discuss the process of engaging with the public to gather women’s true stories.

Martha Ansara is a veteran filmmaker, and consulting producer/archival researcher on Women of Steel, which follows the group of women who fought for the right to work in Wollongong’s steel industry. She is the author of The Shadowcatchers: A History of Cinematography in Australia (2012), and collaborated with the Aboriginal protesters on the sacred site of the Waugal at Perth’s Swan Brewery on the documentary and book Always Was Always Will Be (1989).

Sophie Couchman is an independent professional historian and curator who works closely with communities to tell their stories, and was a curator on the Invisible Farmer Project (2019). Previously a curator at the Chinese Museum in Melbourne, Sophie has worked on a range of projects including the British Migrants: Instant Australians exhibition (2018), Shooting the Past podcast (2018), Chinese Australian Hometown Heritage Tours (2017-2019), and the Makassar-Yirrkala: Creative Collaboration (2019). 

Chair: Jeannine Baker is a historian who researches women’s work in the media industries. She is the author of Australian Women War Reporters: Boer War to Vietnam (2015) and co-curator of the website ‘100 Voices that Made the BBC: Pioneering Women’.

Viewable on You Tube