This page contains an online archive of RHSV Annual Reports going back to 2011.
These are available for download in PDF format.
111th Annual Report
Inside the 2020 Annual Report
President’s Annual Report 2020
Executive Officer’s Annual Report 2020
Publications Committee Annual Report 2020
Collections Committee Annual Report 2020
History Victoria Support Group Annual Report 2020
Membership Development Committee Annual Report 2020
Events and Outreach Committee Annual Report 2020
Heritage Committee Annual Report 2020
The Victorian Community History Awards Report 2020
RHSV Treasurer’s Annual Report 2020
RHSV Financial Statements 2020
Support the RHSV Foundation
Become a member of the RHSV
RHSV Councillors and Staff
Fellows, Benefactors and Volunteers
Donations and Bequests
President's Annual Report 2020
President’s Annual Report 2020
Melbourne has many important cultural institutions that help to make it a great city, and it has been awarded the title ‘world’s most liveable city’ on a number of occasions in recent times. The Royal Historical Society of Victoria (RHSV) is one of these key cultural institutions, albeit less well funded and smaller than many, and it serves a dual role. Based in the heart of Melbourne, capital of Victoria, it fosters the history and protects the heritage of both city and state. The society is now in its 112th year and can be proud of its work over the previous 111 years, having built up a key collection of Victoriana and sustained the second oldest journal of Australian history, the Victorian Historical Journal (1911–2021+).
The RHSV is supported by our patron, Her Excellency, the Governor of Victoria, Linda Dessau AO. In 2020 she presented three of our volunteers with Australia Day awards for service to the RHSV: Judith Smart AM, Carole Woods OAM and me (Richard Broome AM). The mayor of the City of Melbourne, Sally Capp, is our civic patron, which is appropriate given our work to protect the history and heritage of Melbourne. Our ambassador, former RHSV president Bill Russell, assists us with external relations to better secure the society’s future. We are grateful too to the Honourable Martin Foley and his successor as minister for creative industries, the Honourable Danny Pearson, for the support they and their staff continue to give our society. We are also in a reciprocal relationship of support with 340 affiliated societies throughout Victoria, and together we have kept the community history movement strong during a difficult year.
2020 will be remembered by every citizen of the world as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, which killed over a million people by year’s end, devastated millions more survivors, shocked the world’s economies and disrupted the lives of all in myriad ways. Melbourne experienced one of the world’s longest lockdowns—successfully preventing a threatened large-scale spread of the virus—but not without great cost. In these circumstances the RHSV has relied on its friends and supporters, and I would like to acknowledge them all for their contributions.
Like many organisations, the RHSV was required to alter its methods and how it connects to its individual and affiliate members as well as its many followers. We were able to meet this challenge successfully because of the quality and dedication of the RHSV staff, led magnificently by our executive officer Rosemary Cameron and our collections manager Jillian Hiscock.
Rosemary Cameron managed our Zoom presence over the many society committees, all of which kept operating; she also organised many online events for the RHSV and for our affiliates and drove the bookshop to greater heights. Jillian Hiscock, for her part, was able to exploit the extra time suddenly made available by devoting herself solely to cataloguing, in which she made significant strides during the long lockdown. Together they choreographed the successful series of arabesques and pirouettes that reorientated the RHSV. They were ably assisted by Jessica Scott, our communications and marketing officer, whose role became even more vital in 2020. Jessica increased our online following and prepared lectures for remote delivery and viewing. In the final half of 2020 we were delighted to welcome Rebecca Toohey as our office administrator, and she has proved to be a wonderful asset. In November we employed Liridon Shaqiri as our part-time bookkeeper to lighten the load on our executive officer. Liridon hit the ground running.
I must thank most profoundly the federal and state governments for their pandemic assistance, the former for subsidising wages through ‘Jobkeeper’ and the latter for government grants to cultural institutions. This assistance, together with our own efforts and those of our supporters, has enabled us to stay afloat. It was the willingness of all Australians to support assistance by government, as well as to offer support themselves to their fellow Australians, that enabled most to survive during 2020, though perhaps not to flourish. Even where official assistance was not forthcoming, communities stepped up to assist those in need.
Of course, many things were put on hold, including an initiative to create the RHSV Jessie Webb Society to honour those who have made a bequest in their will to the RHSV and to encourage others to do so. So too was the new Hugh Anderson Melbourne Day Oration, which the family of Hugh Anderson agreed to support financially, initially over three years, as a tribute to Hugh, one of our former vice presidents, a fellow of the society, and an eminent biographer and historian of popular culture. Both important initiatives will commence in 2021, COVID permitting. The virus was characterised by our premier, Daniel Andrews, as a ‘wicked thing’, and, for all of us, it has assumed a grim intimacy. Historians are already recording Victoria’s day-to-day responses to this catastrophic event in our lives.
The long closure of the Drill Hall stymied the labours of our wonderful cohort of volunteers too. But, while most were forced to take a break from their activities, a few were able to work on projects online, including Cheryl Griffin, who created our At Home Festival and continued her History Writers Group by Zoom, as well as embarking on a mammoth new project to create an online biographical dictionary of RHSV women. Among other volunteers who continued to work remotely were Lenore Frost in our bookshop, Amy Miniter, Alan Ritter and Richard Barnden in cataloguing, and David Thompson on preparing for 2021 exhibitions, while Greg Buchanan and Margaret Fleming continued their valuable commercial site research. We thanked all volunteers, not with the usual Christmas lunch, which was thwarted by social distancing, but with a mind-teasing jigsaw formed from one of our images of Melbourne’s Yarra/Birrarung waterfront around 1950.
Carole Woods made 2020 her final year on the Victorian Community History Awards panel, after 20 years as a judge and seven years as chair of the central judges’ panel. During this time the VCHA has grown to become one of the brightest gems of the RHSV’s work for the community history movement. We thank the twelve judges for 2020 for their outstanding commitment to the awards. Carole is also RHSV secretary, and she has been ably assisted by assistant secretary Cathy Butcher. Elisabeth Jackson has supported the society in many ways as vice-president. Daniel Clements, amidst his busy life in an accountancy firm, Nexia Australia, continued to give wise and prudent service as our honorary treasurer.
Our councillors and committee members maintained their excellent work for the RHSV, and I commend to you the separate committee reports within this volume. Jim Dixon stepped down from council after five years of dedicated service and financial advice. Two others who stepped down are George Fernando, who devoted much time and energy over many years to both the council and the History Victoria Support Group (HVSG), and Lucy Bracey, who continues to assist the RHSV through management of the Heritage Committee’s web presence. New councillors included Pauline Hitchins, Elizabeth Triarico and Nikita Vanderbyl, and Judith Smart re-joined council after an absence of two years.
Pauline Hitchins also assumed leadership of the HVSG from Alleyne Hockley, who had been a member since 2004 and its convenor from 2018. Pauline implemented George Fernando’s idea of a phone tree, by which councillors have been contacting affiliated societies to check on their welfare. This direct contact has been important as many of our affiliated societies had to close their doors during the COVID-19 lockdown. We offered them assistance when and where we were able to do so. The word was that, behind the scenes, work continued for many societies: answering queries, shifting to Zoom meetings and planning for the future. I wrote to dozens of them during the lockdown extending our good wishes and offers of support.
I wrote also to our kind donors, who kept up a steady flow of both small and sizable donations, often tied to their membership renewal or a bookshop purchase. They are all important to our continued financial stability, and we thank them most warmly.
At its December meeting, the council passed a statement of intent for reconciliation and Indigenous engagement, resolving to pursue four aims:
- As an organisation our managerial processes, actions and future planning will reflect best practice in Indigenous engagement and cultural competency;
- Our future activities will be conducted with full acknowledgement of the importance and continuance of knowledge held by First Nations peoples, including their connection to country, language, and cultural practices;
- As custodians of a significant collection of Victoria’s history we will manage it in a culturally respectful manner and create beneficial access to First Nations peoples;
- As the senior historical society in Victoria we will lead and encourage other historical societies to follow our example and develop their own Reconciliation Action Plans.
The council also registered ‘this intent in full knowledge of the complexity of engaging with, listening to, and partnering with First Nations Victorians, who may wish to walk this journey with us to make the RHSV truly inclusive’.
My best wishes to all our members and friends for a safe and prosperous 2021.
Richard Broome AM, President