New COVID rules for venues from 6pm, 26th March 2021

The RHSV has just received the email below from Andrew Abbot, Chief Executive of Creative Victoria, with updates to the COVID restrictions that come into force tomorrow night (6pm Friday 26th of March, 2021).

In summary:

  • Face masks will no longer be required in retail settings, but Victorians will still need to carry one with them at all times and wear it on public transport, in rideshare vehicles and taxis and in sensitive settings such as aged care facilities and hospitals (unless a lawful exemption applies).

St Vincent Hospital’s new building threatens integrity of UNESCO World-Heritage listed Carlton Gardens and Royal Exhibition Building.

Charles Sowerwine, Chair of the RHSV Heritage Committee, has been busy over the holidays defending the integrity of the UNESCO world-heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens from intrusive and inappropriate development. A very comprehensive article from The Age can be read here or you can listen to Professor Sowerwine being interviewed by Tom Elliott on Drive at 3AW.

Anger over modern, ‘look-at-me’ design for historic site


Some Christmas reading …

Some stories to tickle your fancy between visits to the family over Christmas

  • Ashley Smith’s latest article in Dockland News (Dec / Jan edition) can be read here.  (scroll down to P24)
  • And Cheryl Griffin’s article examining a view of Swanston St in the 1890s for CBD News (Dec / Jan edition) can be read here (scroll down to P22)
  • In the same CBD News there is an interview with Richard Broome about Melbourne’s Twenty Decades  (scroll down to P17)

RHSV urges further consultation before more tree-felling on the Western Highway Duplication project

The RHSV are calling on the state government to pause and reconsider the felling of trees on the Western Highway Duplication Project. We believe that, before trees are felled, consultation should take place with all those to whom they are significant, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. The felling of trees is a grave problem across the whole Western Highway Duplication project and indeed across all of Victoria. Read our statement here.



Hooray! The RHSV is now open to the public and members who want to visit the gallery or conduct research in the collection. The bookshop is also open and we’ll be reinstating Chris Manchee’s popular walking tours of historic Flagstaff Gardens. Please remember if you are visiting the Drill Hall that masks and sanitising are mandatory.

All historical societies across Victoria can open to their volunteers and the public as long as they have a COVID plan in place and follow all the Government regulations re social distancing,



The RHSV’s Heritage Committee has just made a submission to the Draft Heritage Management Plan for the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens. More can be seen here. In this submission, we noted the lack of a single responsible authority for the world heritage site. In our response to the Discussion Paper preparing the Review of the Strategy Plan for the World Heritage Environs Area, we noted the betrayal of promises to protect the surrounding areas from high-rise building.



Cheryl Griffin looks at an early 1950s Melbourne streetscape – more pointedly it is of the Commonwealth Bank Building at 219 – 225  Bourke St.  This 11-storey building dwarfed the Victorian buildings around it but the word ‘skyscraper’ wouldn’t be used for another 5-6 years when the breathtakingly tall 19-storey ICI House was built.

Cheryl’s full article can be read in the August 2020 CBD News.


RHSV makes a submission to Juukan Gorge Inquiry

22 July 2020

Read our submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the destruction of the 46,000-year-old caves at the Juukan Gorge (link below). We argue that it demonstrates profound failings in the legislation to protect Australia’s heritage, not only in WA, but also in the Commonwealth, which was missing in action.

Commonwealth Environment Minister Sussan Ley justified doing nothing on the grounds that there was no application for protection, but it emerges today that when the traditional owners of the Shenhua Watermark site on the Liverpool Plains did apply for protections,


RHSV Protests Minister’s Short-Circuiting Heritage Listing of GMH Site

The iconic GMH site at Fishermans Bend, where Ben Chifley launched the first Holden, was on track to be listed on the Victorian Heritage Register until, in February, Planning Minister Richard Wynne called in the nomination. The Minister is short-circuiting the heritage and planning processes to facilitate a development that will destroy much of the historic fabric before the site is registered. We have written to the Minister to urge him to follow proper process.


We most strongly protest the misguided government policy and demand the penalty on studying the Humanities is removed

Friday 19 June 2020

The Royal Historical Society of Victoria, the peak body for local and community history in Victoria for over a century, is astonished that Humanities students in Australian universities are being burdened with an unprecedented rise of up to 113% in student fees. This is an impost on one of Australia’s most creative sectors at a time when creative solutions are needed to help Australia emerge from an economic shock of unparalleled dimensions.


What to do with our statues and monuments?

What to do with our statues and monuments?

A Policy Statement from the Royal Historical Society of Victoria

23 June 2020

The Black Lives Matter protests have highlighted the ways the past impacts heavily on us today. Our predecessors’ values were in many respects appalling. Attitudes we would describe as racist, misogynist or anti-Semitic were embedded in past cultures. We are beginning to question them but we have a long way to go.


Queens Birthday Honours Congratuations

Heartfelt congratulations to our affiliated society member Helen Gobbi, of History Monash, who was awarded an OAM for service to community history. Helen is a very worthy recipient and last year was awarded an RHSV Award of Merit. Her citation for the Award of Merit can be read on our website here.

And to Arthur and Lurline Knee who were both awarded OAMs for the service to the community of Tatura.