by Eleanor Russell
On the 26th of January 1788 eleven ships under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip sailed into Port Jackson, now known as Sydney Harbour, carrying the first of more than 150,000 convicts sent to the new penal colony in Australia. The experiences of these convicts, and of the naval and military personnel, administrators, and free settlers, would be transformed from history into an origin story of the Australian national character that remains the focus of Australia Day celebrations. Read more
By Alex Wakelam | @A_Wakelam
Archives can be peculiar places. Each comes with its own personal variety of watchful archivists, identification requirements, seating regulations and occasionally (for those who’ve tried to enter the almost impenetrable fortress that is the Bodleian) oaths to swear. They sometimes seem like sacred historical spaces (Cathedral archives often literally are) where only the enlightened, the blessed, the chosen brothers and sisters of history speaking “shibboleth” may enter. They are, of course, anything but. Despite the grumbling academics trying to expel anyone but themselves from the British Library and presumably from anywhere they deem “their territory”, those documents labelled “Public Records” are, as the name suggests, publicly owned and publicly accessible. The 1958 Public Records Act even specifically requires the provision of ‘reasonable facilities … available to the public for inspecting and obtaining’ historical records.
By Jess Hope
What happens when policy ignores history? This week, Australia’s conservative government announced proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act (1975) and its amendment the Racial Hatred Act (1995), which was established in response to an increase in verbal and physical racial violence in Australia. The changes would see the repeal of Section 18C, which presently makes it unlawful to ‘offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people’ on the basis of their ‘race, colour or national or ethnic origin’. Instead, in the opinion of Attorney-General George Brandis, the Australian people ‘have a right to be bigots.’ As currently stated, the implications appear to be as follows: