How many of us belong to organisations, clubs, or societies and then when the AGM comes around we can find any excuse not to attend? That, to me, begs the question why bother, why bother being a member if you cannot attend one meeting to hear about the year’s activities and plans for the future? I have heard all the excuses, the most prolific is the one that goes like this: “oh if I go along I will be roped in to doing something.” Wow, you might be invited to contribute your knowledge, expertise and skills to help make the organisation a little better – such a burden isn’t it? The operative word here is ‘invited’. You can decline. However, attending the AGM shows your support, and appreciation to those who are able to work on various committees or have roles in the running of the organisation.
I am a member of a few organisations and today I attended the AGM of the SA branch of Oral History Australia. I did not take on any State based responsibilities, the running of OHA (SA) is in excellent hands and there is a strong group of volunteers to carry on the work. Besides getting an overview of the various activities and the status of the financials there was an excellent speaker after the formal business.
Liz Harfull, is a former journalist, has also worked in public relations – specifically in the rural sector – and is now an accomplished author. Her presentation covered a little of her working history and then a special project where she researched and wrote a history of Robe – Almost an Island: the Story of Robe. It is a publication which brings together the stories, memories and images of this small country town, tucked away on the rugged Limestone Coast of South Australia, which has played a remarkable role in history. Liz’s approach was different in that she involved the community, through the local football club, a centenarian and a series of oral history tapes buried in the archives of the local council offices.
During her presentation to the small number of OHA members present, Liz made a number of observations between her former profession as a ‘print’ journalist and that of an oral historian. Never in her extensive career has Liz ever asked for, been given written permission to interview a person, or to ‘report on’ what she has discovered through the interview. This is a practice she has continued in to her publishing career.
For me, that raised the question as to why we, as oral historians, go through the bureaucracy of ethics clearances and signed consent forms? There is no one answer to these questions and it is one that I will comment on in my Blogs from time to time. Others may wish to comment also.
Who is Liz Hartull? She is an award-winning journalist and Churchill Fellow. Liz grew up on a small farm near Mount Gambier, which has been in the family since the early 1860s. Her fist publication was the bestselling Blue Ribbon Cookbook. [This abstract is adapted from the publication, Women of the land.]