More Government mismanagement

Our State Government is morally and financially bankrupt.  There is a lack of planning and budgets are cut to meet the whims of the day’s thoughts.  One of the recent decisions by the Minister for the Arts, Jack Snelling, to cut more than $1 million (annually over the next three years) from the State Library is just one example to this poor management.  In South Australia our State library is a critical cultural centre for our history and for future generations.

I accept that management has the right to improve efficiencies, modify procedures and introduce change.  That is how we develop and improve.  However, this must be done in a planned and strategic manner, not with the slash of a political pen to cut financial support, in one area, to prop up poor decisions elsewhere in Government.

Yesterday (Wednesday September 8) I was in a doctor’s waiting room and picked up the August 2016 publication of Reader’s Digest.  I haven’t read one of these magazines in years.  On page 66 was an article: Inside the world’s most beautiful libraries.  Under the current circumstances it grabbed my interest.


Article in the August 2016 publication of The Reader’s Digest.

It listed nine impressive libraries around the world.  None are in Australia, and according to Cornelia Kumfert, the author of this article, the closest one to Australia is in South Korea.  I am not suggesting that our State Library, or even the Bar Smith Library, is of similar standards to those nine listed by Kumfert, but it does say something about how poorly our politicians treat our history, heritage and its value in to the future.

Yes ther are many worthwhile issues to support, health, public transport, the environment are just three.  Yet without a history, the legacies from our past where is our culture, the values we hold dear and the legacy we bequith to our children and their children?


Respected historian, Brian Samuels, speaking at a recent rally (Sept 2016) to Save our State Library. (used with permission)

This is not a call to open your wallets, but to let your politicians know that our libraries are a vital part of our being and must be maintained.  Change procedures, restructure, or what ever management sees as necessary, but don’t decimate 180 years of our histoy and tens of thousands of years of recorded Aboriginal heritage through poor polictical decisions.

Save our State Library #saveourstatelibrary

Use the Twitter hastag to keep the momentum going.


Almost there

About thirty minutes ago I submitted my thesis for examination.  Given the challenge to get this tome submitted before Christmas, ‘blogging’ has been a somewhat  poor relation in the past couple of months.  Marking student assignments, writing, toss in two presentations as well as the thesis, there was little time, or desire left to blog.

I have discovered that submitting a thesis for examination is a challenge as well.  It is a process of bureaucracy, getting it approved firstly by my supervisor(s), soft bound copies printed, paper-work, always the paper-work, filled out and signed and then physically depositing the three copies for examination.  Then it disappears in to the mysterious world of the Graduate Research Centre.

Then sometime later my two examiners will each have a copy posted to them, hopefully early in the new year.  One is here in Adelaide and the other in Canada.  All I know about them is what I have read of their CVs and the recommendation from my associate supervisor.  The reading and grading process can take three months.  The thesis is 90,000 words, plus the reference list, so it is not a short novel to read at leisure.  After the examiners have submitted their grade I then have about six weeks to reply to their comments (and modify the thesis) before it goes the the university academic board for confirmation.  So if all goes well I will be awarded my PhD later in 2016.

As for an update on my other research projects, the blogs will follow shortly.

Do not avoid AGMs – you might learn something.

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.

Cover of Liz's 2013 book

Cover of Liz’s 2013 book

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.]

Dubai during Ramadan

I have observed this Muslim commitment in some brief comments on Facebook.  It certainly makes the experience of being in Dubai this month somewhat different.  At the moment it is lunchtime on Sunday (June 28th) and I’m trying to find a place to have some food – one that is not junk-food from Burger King or similar.  Even having a coffee earlier this morning required conforming to the strict rules.  However I managed to find somewhere that served ‘Americano’ – what we call a long black.  I’m heading out on a Desert Safari, into the red sands around 4pm through to about 9pm.  An Arabian night sky should be interesting.  More on my stay here for the past 48 hours in a link I will add a little later this evening (local time).

Dawn Service – 2015

Poppies on display

Poppies on display

Eighteen months ago I presented a paper on my family’s 100 years of connection to war, 1913-2013.  This morning I commemorated the 100 year remembrance of the first landing at Gallipoli, by attending the Dawn Service at the Norwood Cenotaph.

When I was a child, I attended similar services with my father, here at Norwood and also in the city at the State War Memorial.  In the soft darkness before dawn it was quiet cold, but the atmosphere was quiet, respectful and there were more than 600 people there.  The youngest I saw was a babe in arms, but so many young children and teenagers attended, supporting those older men and women who had obviously served our country.  The hour-long service included some beautiful singing from students at the local Marryatville Primary School.


Dr Leanne Glenny and David Sweet


The Cenotaph at Norwood with memorial wreaths


A display of poppies created by a local primary school

Afterwards we met up with colleague Dr Leanne Glenny and her husband Roger, who both served in the Australian (Leanne) and New Zealand (Roger) Defense Services. A typical Anzac Day breakfast of eggs, bacon and toast, with coffee, afterwards, was most welcome.

Back home I watched the Tv coverage Anzac Day march through Adelaide and was pleased to see some ‘mates’ who served in Vietnam and other areas of conflict marching.  Then I was moved by the ceremony televised from Anzac Cove.  Politics aside, the speeches were appropriate, respectful and recognised all sides in this bloody conflict.

While today we remembered those who were, and remain, our Anzacs over the next three years similar centenary events will take place to honour those who were in France on the Western Front.

Lest we forget.

Inspiration comes from …


It has been a while since I posted, not because I haven’t had anything to write about, just that other priorities were important.  However, that is life.

During the past three weeks I have listened to twenty-nine final year students present on what, or who has inspired them and guided their passion to strive for a career and life after university.  They, in turn, have inspired me.  Most spoke of publicly successful business women and men, prominent sports people, authors and community leaders.  However, three were different – thus inspiring in a unique way.

Two students spoke of their father and how their examples of support, commitment and love continues to inspire them.  The third student could not relate to any person who had inspired her.  With an initial glance at the assignment, she considered that it was a ‘fluffy’ assessment and that she would not have to do much work to get a good mark.  That was until she actually though about the question as to whom inspired her.  She then discovered that it was not so easy.  Still she could have taken the easy option and picked some ‘high flyer’, conducted a little research and lied her way through her presentation.  However, she didn’t.  The value of ethical behaviour kicked in.  She talked of her challenges in understanding what inspiration was, what drives her to get up each morning, where she wants to go with her working life and what she wishes to contribute to the community.  She found the person who is passionate and inspirational – herself.

I know all about you?


How serious or thoughtful are we about our personal security?  Certainly those who frequent clubs and pubs are conscious of  spiked drinks and strangers – and kids are taught about stranger danger.  However, security is more than just our personal space, think about all the documentation we have online or in files around our home and offices.

I was tackling my annual Xmas clean-up this morning, and dumping those magazines I was going to read, that clip from the ‘Tiser that was critical, but I never got around to using into the recycle bin.  Walking back inside I noticed a ‘typed report’ lying on the ground that I must have dropped.  Picking it up I placed it on some other papers to go through once the bulk of the accumulated ‘stuff’ had been sorted and relegated to the Green Bin.

Sitting outside checking the pile of reports and other papers over a coffee and lunch I came across the paper I thought I’d dropped on the front porch.  It was not mine.  It was a psychiatric assessment on a twenty year-old woman whom I will call Jane.  It outlines Jane’s medical history, depression, anxiety, and even more intimate details of her family and medical background.  I assume that the report had been dumped in her rubbish bin, but at some stage it had blown out of the rubbish collection truck.  This assumption is based on Jane living no where near me, and the medical practices mentioned in the report are also in distant suburbs.  In less than a minute I found Jane on FB.

Many of us do the ‘annual clean-up’ around this time of the year and toss out old financial statements, tax returns, receipts and numerous other files.  How conscious are we though of our privacy.  Cyber security is regularly discussed online and in the media.  However, we need to be aware of the other documents and files that we have in our homes and offices.  I’m not advocating paranoia here, but a level of common sense.  Shred those personal documents before they get to the green bin, or at least rip them up a few times.

I consider myself a reasonable guy, so as for Jane and her medical report, it is shredded along with my personal papers.  As for her FB page – Jane who?

Update: Australian Generations Oral History Project

In December last year (2013) I was interviewed as part of the Australia wide ‘Australian Generations Oral History Project‘.  I found the process of being interviewed, rather than being the interviewer a challenging experience.  I enjoyed it, but having to quickly decide what to talk about – or leave out – kept me very aware that this interview would be archived for ‘eternity’ and anyone who wished could access it.  It was a warts interview, but not warts and all, some stories I didn’t tell.  We all have secrets and embarrassing moments in our lives.  I have related some of those incidents, but without completely embarrassing myself.  I talked about some of the drama I experienced in my various professional roles, being assaulted (physically) by a teacher at high school and as a teenager in the 60s.

David Sweet at Australian Generations Conference Monash University, October 31, 2014

Over two days in October, Professor Alistair Thomson, Monash University hosted a series of presentations by the project research team members including papers on project findings and about the team’s oral history methodology.  Professor Michael Frisch, the internationally renowned oral and public historian, delivered the Keynote Address at the public launch of the conference on Thursday 30 October 2014 at the State Library of Victoria.  Attending these sessions was enjoyable, an excellent learning experience and meeting colleagues (old and new) in the family and oral history research genre.

Check out the Australian Generations Report site.