Unfinished Business

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this exhibition contains images and names of deceased persons.

Without stories there is silence. 
Without stories told, we are voiceless. 
Without our stories heard , we are invisible. 
This is very hard, when the stories are hard to hear,
difficult to see and impossible to imagine.

Unfinished Business
 reveals the visual stories of 30  Indigenous Australian’s with disabilities, by photographer Belinda Mason and film makers Knierim Brothers.

Belinda Mason’s photographs present some of the untold stories, which are part of the social and cultural fabric of Western Australia, and the nation.

“Every story is complex and intertwined with Australia’s political and social history, which has resulted in today’s unacceptably high rates of disability in Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities….Through their involvement in the project each participant draws much-needed attention to critical issues that impact on their lives. Participants of the exhibition live with a wide range of disability experiences – acquired, congenital, sensory, psychological, intellectual, visible and invisible.”-  Belinda Mason

The exhibition includes a number of photographs of individuals from Western Australian regional areas including Mowanjum, Geraldton, and Carnarvon.

One of the West Australian’s featured is June Oscar, a woman of Bunuba descent. June Oscar is the Grandmother of Hudson who has Feotal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

June Oscar

The Matriarch, June Oscar. Photograph by Belinda Mason. 

“I am the Grandmother of Hudson. It was not right that our little children were growing up in this environment who are living their lives with unique and complex needs as a result of alcohol exposure in utero. So in 2007 the women got together and made a strong and final decision that we would apply for alcohol restrictions in our community. We want our people to know that, this is their community, that this community cares about them and that we are prepared to make the hard decisions and stand up”

Accessibility is at the heart of this exhibition. People with sensory, cognitive and learning impairments are able to engage with the exhibition through OpenAcessTours a mobile app available for apple and android devices.

The power of this exhibition lies in its ability to evoke empathy,  as Mason explains,

“We cannot argue when someone says ‘I feel…’ – it is not our right. It is part of our own journey to learn empathy rather than compassion. Our reaction exposes us to to ourselves, and reminds us that we all need the ability to listen when someone lays their soul naked in our path”.

Gary Umbagai

The Hanging Tree, Gary Umbagai. Photograph by Belinda Mason

Unfinished Business is on display at the State Library until 3 June 2016. For more information visit our website.

  • Copies of the book of the same name can be purchased from the State Library Shop
  • Parental guidance is advised for young children visiting the exhibition
  • The State Library is a wheelchair accessible venue

Nadj Nidj Maaya – What’s that sound?: Old songs and Noongar language

Using the archives of the JS Battye Library of West Australian history, 2014 Battye Fellow Clint Bracknell has identified over 50 songs in Noongar language.

Public Talk: Monday 6 July 2015: 12:00 – 1:00 
State Library of Western Australia Theatre
Book now to secure your seat

Listen to Clint discuss how old Noongar songs may be plugged back into a resilient network of intersecting knowledge, geography, story and relationships, and sung back at the archive in a way that challenges its authority, its truths and its silences.

Presented as part of NAIDOC 2015 We All Stand on Sacred Ground: Learn, Respect & Celebrate.

All venues at the State Library are wheelchair accessible 
For more information visit: www.slwa.wa.gov.au 

Memory House goes State-wide

In 2014 our Memory House exhibition celebrated  the sights, smells, tastes, sounds and textures of Western Australia.

To encourage representation of the entire state, we invited selected regional public libraries to host a Memory House letterbox giving their communities an opportunity to share memories of their area on postcards.

The Libraries set up displays around the letterboxes and held events to facilitate memory sharing and discussion. Libraries decorated their letterboxes in a style that reflected their region.

Broome Library gets into the Memory House spirit, 2014. Photo credit: Broome Library

Broome Library gets into the Memory House spirit with their display, 2014. Photo: Broome Library

There were some outstanding responses from the regions. We thank the following participating libraries and community members for their contributions: South Hedland, Exmouth, Narrogin, Merredin, Broome, Karratha, Dampier, Wickham, Roebourne, Geraldton, Laverton, Toodyay, Busselton and Albany.

View the full collection of letterboxes and postcards at the State Library on the 1 June for WA Day. Here are some of our regional highlights:

Pearl Ashwin (Baumgarten) attended a seniors morning tea at South Hedland Library as part of Memory House. There she was delighted to find an image of herself as a young nurse. Pearl’s photo was featured on a postcard promoting Storylines, an online archive relating to Aboriginal history in Western Australia.

Pearl Ashwin with  photograph, South Hedland Library 2014. Photo credit: South Hedland Library

Pearl Ashwin with photograph, South Hedland Library 2014. Photo credit: South Hedland Library

Pearl Ashwin was one of the first Aboriginal women in Meekatharra to become a registered nurse. In the postcard she is pictured working at Meekatharra hospital. South Hedland Library staff were able to capture this photo of Pearl with her postcard.

Toodyay Library hosted ‘Internment to Enlightenment’, a historical walk and guest speaker presentation by Beth Frayne from the Toodyay Historical Society. The talk began at the Old Gaol Museum and ended at the Toodyay Library, where participants shared Toodyay memories. Among postcard contributions were unique Toodyay smells including, “Coal being shovelled into the boiler of the Toodyay steam train” and sounds such as “Kookaburra’s laughing” and “Bees humming in a jacaranda tree”.


Toodyay Library ‘Internment to Enlightenment’ 2014. Photo credit: Toodyay Library

Merredin’s Local Fine Art Society produced this beautifully painted letter box displaying the vivid colours of the wheatbelt region.

Merredin Library letterbox (details), Merredin Artist Society 2014

Merredin Library letterbox (details), Merredin Artist Society 2014

Merredin Library letterbox (details), Merredin Artist Society 2014

Merredin Library letterbox (details), Merredin Artist Society 2014

Narrogin Library hosted an exhibition, ‘seniors through the eyes of youth’ at  Narrogin ARtSpace.  Seniors were paired with young people, and they were encouraged to share their stories. The activity culminated with a photographic exhibition during Seniors Week.

The Memory House regional engagement project was made possible through the generous support of the State Library of Western Australia Foundation and Lotterywest.

North Metropolitan Health Services Kambarang Day, Midland 9th October

Yellow Everlastings

Yellow Everlastings road to Carnarvon

Kambarang – Wildflower season (season of birth) October – November

North Metropolitan Health Services Kambarang Day,  Midland  9th October

Family History Subject Specialists Tricia Fairweather and Leonie Hayes recently attended Kambarang Day at Midland. Appropriately, it was a typical balmy spring day that attracted a good crowd.
The purpose of Kambarang Day is to create awareness in Indigenous communities of health and allied services available and to promote healthy living. There was live music, a petting zoo (very cute piglet), cooking demonstrations, fresh fruit, free health checks and all manner of advice available.
We were attending to support our Indigenous Specialist Damien Webb to promote Storylines the State Library website that has been developed to make our digitised indigenous heritage material available online to Aboriginal people.

Bessie Flower

Anne Camfield (seated) and Bessie Flower, 1860s

Storylines is a growing database of photographs and documents relating to Aboriginal people. So many photographs from our collections have only the original captions: “group of natives at…” or “aboriginal man with spear”. Making them available online is not only a way of returning them but is also helping us to identify many of the individuals in the photographs .

Carol and Max, Warburton Mission, 1958-1961

Carol and Max, Warburton Mission, 1958-1961

We have found demonstrating Storylines to be very rewarding and it has given us a great sense of how close knit the community is. Our experience has encompassed the excitement of a young boy on being shown a delightful photograph of his auntie as a young girl and an elderly gentleman identifying his grandfather and other relatives in a family group.

Domestic science class

Karalundi Mission, September 1960, domestic science class.

Violinist, Derby 1948.

Violinist, Derby 1948.

As well as promoting Storylines we were able to assist many people with general and specific enquiries about family history. The day also provided us a welcome opportunity to network with other stallholders and exchange information about the various services we all have to offer.
As Librarians, we were particularly delighted with the stall for Ngala, a provider of early childhood services, that had a selection of some of the most popular picture books as giveaways. We swapped information about our Better Beginnings early literacy programs and left brochures detailing these as well as our eresources for family history.
We were also able to demonstrate our children’s eresources to some youngsters, their older siblings, parents and grandparents. They were particularly taken with Busythings  a fun online suite of games and activities that help children to develop literacy and numeracy while having great fun.
It was a very productive day for us with the added benefit of having an excellent time – although I did have to reluctantly relinquish my freebie yo-yo to a very appealing (and pleading) child.

More regional WA newspapers added to Trove

Eastern Districts Chronicle: York

Eastern Districts Chronicle: York

For those researching their WA families, their home towns or historic events in Western Australia, Trove provides a window into the past.
Hosted by the National Library of Australia, Trove is the portal to Australian online resources including books, images, historic newspapers, maps, music and archives. The most popular part of Trove is the Digitised newspapers and more section, an historical collection of searchable city and rural newspapers from around Australia.
Eight new Western Australian newspaper titles covering the period 1877 – 1954 have recently been added to Trove.
They are:
Eastern Districts Chronicle (York:  1877 – 1927)
Great Southern Herald (Katanning:  1901 – 1954)
Norseman Times (1898 – 1920)
The Pilbarra Goldfield News (Marble Bar:  1897 – 1923)
South Western Advertiser (Perth:  1910 – 1954)
The South-Western News (Busselton:  1903 – 1949)
Toodyay Herald (1912 – 1954)
Westralian Worker (Perth: 1900 – 1951)

Unlike many historical newspaper databases from overseas Trove is free to access – so follow our link and start your historical journey now!
Trove digitised newspapers and more.

Walmajarri stories online

Read some truly awesome stories in Walmajarri, English and Kriol online RIGHT NOW! 65 Books written and illustrated by kids and adults from Kadjina Aboriginal Community and now fully online at the State Library of WA.

Head to the launch in the Cultural Centre tomorrow at 3pm – one of many events during “Revealed: Emerging Aboriginal Artists from Western Australia” http://www.perthculturalcentre.com.au/What’s-On/?eventid=19892

2011 WA Premier’s Book Awards

Visit our new site: Premier’s Book Awards – http://pba.slwa.wa.gov.au/.

Justice: A History of the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western AustraliaLast night Premier Colin Barnett announced Fiona Skyring’s Justice: A History of the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia as winner of the 2011 Premier’s Prize worth $25,000.

Highly acclaimed Western Australian author Tim Winton was inducted into our Hall of Fame.

2011 Western Australia’s Premier’s Book Awards Category Winners

  • Non-Fiction:  Alice Pung, Her Father’s Daughter
    Published by Black Inc.
  • Fiction:  Anna Funder, All That I Am
    Published by Penguin Group (Australia)
  • Scripts:  Tim Winton and Ellen Fontana, Cloudstreet: The Screenplay
    Published by Penguin Group (Australia)
  • Children’s Books:   Michelle Gillespie and Sonia Martinez, Sam, Grace and the Shipwreck;
    Published by Fremantle Press.
  • Poetry:  Tracy Ryan, The Argument
    Published by Fremantle Press
  • Young Adults:  Penni Russon, Only Ever Always
    Published by Allen & Unwin
  • State Library of Western Australia WA History:  Fiona Skyring, Justice: A History of the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia
    Published by UWA Publishing
  • Digital Narrative Award:  Max Barry, Machine Man
    Published by Scribe Publications
  • People’s Choice Award:  Anna Funder, All That I Am
    Published by Penguin Group (Australia)
  • Premier’s Prize:  Fiona Skyring, Justice: A History of the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia;
    Published by UWA Publishing

Congratulations to all of the winners & publishers.

WA Indigenous Tourism Story to be Retained

The Western Australian Indigenous Tourism Operators Council (WAITOC) and the State Library of Western Australia (SLWA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which will see the historical paper and digital records of WAITOC archived and maintained by the State Library of Western Australia.

The MOU prefaces the Australian Indigenous Tourism Conference (AITC) 2011 themed Aboriginal Dreaming, Become part of the Journey through Tourism.  The MOU will ensure the records of the WAITOC journey will be preserved and made accessible to current and future generations.

WA remains the only State jurisdiction in Australia to have a dedicated Indigenous tourism industry association.

WAITOC CEO Johnny Edmonds said “WAITOC started as and remains a grass roots Indigenous owned and governed tourism industry organisation which has stood the test of time and is continuing to develop as an integral part of the tourism industry in WA”.

Mr Edmonds said “Internationally, WA’s approach to the organisational development of Indigenous tourism sits at the forefront of international best practise which seeks the empowerment of Indigenous tourism”.  The MOU with SLWA reinforces the continuing empowerment of Indigenous tourism in WA.

SLWA CEO Margaret Allen said “the signing of the MOU is a significant step for the future of the WAITOC records, and their preservation captures a significant part of the WA story.  Historians and researchers will be able to access this unique archive of the Indigenous Tourism Industry now and into the future”.

The State Library of Western Australia is located in the heart of the Perth Cultural Centre. It preserves and provides access to Western Australia’s published heritage and original historical records.  The State Library also provides numerous online and e-resources, many of which are accessible from home using your public library membership or State Library card. To see what else the State Library has to offer you please check out the State Library’s web pages at http://slwa.wa.gov.au/

Contacts for Further Information:

Johnny Edmonds, CEO WAITOC, 0419 921 946

Doug George, Manager Public Programs, SLWA, 9427 3150, 0417 961 060

Noongar Language Resources

The West Australian newspaper reported today that “Students hold key to Nyoongar language revival”. Noongar is the one of the main languages spoken by the Aboriginal people of the south-west of Western Australia.  It had a number of dialects, including one for Perth called Wadjuk.  Noongar is an oral language ie it was never written down.  There is a major push throughout Australia for the teaching of Indigenous languages in schools to ensure that the languages are not lost.

The State Library has a significant number of books, articles, teaching kits and film on the subject.   A good starting point for information on Western Australian Aboriginal languages is the article entitled Aboriginal languages in Historical Encyclopedia of Western Australia edited by Jenny Gregory and Jan Gothard.  The encyclopedia is available in most public libraries.  There are a number of dictionaries on the Noongar language including Noongar Dictionary:  Noongar to English and English to Noongar compiled by Rose Whitehurst and published by the Noongar Language and Culture Centre.  Another important dictionary is a Nyoongar Wordlist from the South West of Western Australia compiled by P Bindon and R Chadwick.  There are some useful teaching kits available too at the State Library and public libraries eg Nyoongar warr-kin-ying bulup: we’re talking to you about teaching the past today, for tomorrow: course outline. For further assistance on these books and other resources, please visit the Battye Library on the third floor of the State Library.

How times change – the view from 1962

How times change – sandwiched between UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA and  PUBLIC GOLF COURSE in Places to See (p.155) of the Official guide to the VIIth British Empire and Commonwealth Games Perth 1962  we find:

KWINANA FREEWAY: Perth’s pride and joy.  The Freeway is a 45-50 m.p.h.double-laned highway running from the Narrows Bridge over the Swan at the foot of King’s Park to Canning Bridge four miles to the south, and links the city with suburbs to the south of the river, and Fremantle.  It is part of a master plan which will ultimately give Perth the finest access road system in Australia.  The Freeway is barred to pedestrians, cycles, learner-drivers, agricultural or power machines, outsize vehicles and animals and you are requested not to drive on it unless you can maintain 45-50 m.p.h. in safety and confidence. 

It is fenced off throughout its length, with strikingly designed footbridges to give pedestrians crossing places from the roads of South Perth to the river beaches.  The roundabout system which controls traffic at each end of the Narrows Bridge — one of the most modern structures of its kind in the world — is on a semi-cloverleaf system wihch employs a give-way and weaving method to merge the traffic flows rather than the overway-underway method.  It is simple to follow if care is taken to read the signposting.

Lights of Kwinana Freeway, 4.5.60

Lights of Kwinana Freeway, 4.5.60 - Battye Library 133458PD

(You can find more about the history of the freeway, including more photographs, by doing a subject search on Kwinana Freeway (W.A.) on the library catalogue.)
On a more poignant note under History (p. 145) we read:
In 1829 , 1003 people came to an empty land [my emphaisis] to establish a colony of the British Empire
Times have changed…