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FEDERATION OF AUSTRALIAN HISTORICAL SOCIETIES INC
e-BULLETIN No. 107 – 28 January 2013
Hon Editor, Dr Ruth S. Kerr
The Commissioner, Susan Pascoe, has spoken about the key policy reforms proposed which are likely to affect historical societies and heritage bodies. These changes are likely to include financial reporting, fund raising and governance. Treasury Department is chairing a COAG working group to identify methods of harmonisation of laws on the subject amongst the states and territories. Currently only South Australia has referred the necessary powers. However there is no definition in Australia of a charity and it is likely to be defined by statute. A further issue is whether the directors’ liabilities as volunteers should be at the same level as under the Corporations law. Details are available on the Commission’s website: www.acnc.gov.au
(Source: Australian Financial Review 7 December 2012 p.10, updated 10 December 2012)
The debate over Egypt’s antiquities dates back centuries. There was recently a call by the Salafist-al-Nour party leader for the destruction of the Giza Pyramids and the Sphinx as a religiously mandated act of iconoclasm, as they are considered idols. This was based on the writings of 13th century thinker, Ibn Taymiyyah. A 10th century Muslim traveller in Egypt, al-Masudi, expressed consternation at destruction of pharaonic ruins. For him they served to strengthen the Koranic injunction to search out and contemplate lessons that the divine left for believers. The monuments have survived foreign invasions, rapacious pillagers and environmental threats. In the late nineteenth century Egypt’s archaeological sites were the centre of a nationalist struggle that culminated in the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb and the division of the contents between the state and the excavators. Following the Napoleonic conquest in 1798 the field of study of Egyptology emerged and asserted control over the cultural heritage. Recently demonstrators have defended the Egyptian Museum from looters.
(Source: Australian Financial Review 7 December 2012 Review pp.1-2)
Dr Andrew Lemon, President of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, attended the special wreath laying ceremony on Monday in Melbourne to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the funeral of Burke and Wills. At the event he also represented the Royal Historical Society of Queensland which is the Trustee of the ‘Dig Tree’ Reserve on Cooper Creek. The Royal Historical Society of Victoria has worked closely with the Royal Society of Victoria over the past two years to ensure that good use was made of the interest awakened by the 150th anniversary of the expedition.
Mr David Phoenix from Cairns and the Burke and Wills Historical Society participated in the event. He presented two papers at the Royal Historical Society of Queensland’s Conference in 2011. They were: ‘Burke and Wills – an overview of the Expedition, its preparation, planning and outcomes’ and ‘John King: an Ulster explorer who became the first person to cross Australia’, and were published in the Society’s Queensland History Journal, February 2012, vol.21 no.8, pp.497-521.
The commemoration was covered in the ABC local TV bulletin on Monday, 21st January 2013:
(Source: Dr Andrew Lemon, 22nd January 2013 and E-Bulletin Editor)
The award of an Order of Australia Medal to Mr Joe Reardon of Gundagai, curator of the town’s museum, epitomizes and promotes the role and work of historical society members throughout Australia. It is very pleasing for Australians and particularly historians to see Mr Reardon’s photograph and the write-up on the front of a national newspaper on Australia Day.
(Source: Weekend Australian 26-27 January 2-13 p.1 including photograph, and editorial observation.)
FAHS Tasmanian delegate Alison Alexander recently wrote a history of Tasmania's Southern Midlands municipality, centred around Oatlands. Commissioned by the local Council, it was beautifully designed with a modern but not gimmicky format by Julie Hawker of InGraphic Design. She produced a book that has everyone oohing and ahing - a vital ingredient for success!
The Southern Midlands was easy to write about as it has so many interesting aspects: settled from the 1810s, it had convicts, bushrangers, Aborigines, a Supreme Court with fascinating cases, struggling and successful settlers, and so on through the usual local history saga of improving conditions in the later nineteenth century, the First World War, the Depression, the Second World War, the long boom and then recent developments. Fortunately, it has a progressive council. When the area was devastated by drought and falling agricultural prices in the 1990s, councillors turned to heritage and tourism, and have done a fantastic job of developing and highlighting these areas. Look up Callington Mill (http://callingtonmill.com.au/) on the internet to see what they've have done with a formerly derelict building. Tourists now flock to it. The mill produces its own organic flour; restaurants sell the produce...
Alison found this a pure joy to research and write, except that she could have written 500,000 words instead of 100,000. It was good to be able to end on such a high note, not always the case for rural districts. The Council printed 750 copies of the 300-page book. It was launched in October and has almost sold out. This is all encouraging news for people working in local history.
(Source: Alison Alexander, THRA – Personal Communication - 23 January 2013)