This page contains an online archive of RHSV Annual Reports going back to 2011.
These are available for download in PDF format.
110th Annual Report
Inside the 2019 Annual Report
President’s Annual Report 2019
Executive Officer’s Annual Report 2019
Publications Committee Annual Report 2019
Collections Committee Annual Report 2019
History Victoria Support Group Annual Report 2019
Membership Development Committee Annual Report 2019
Heritage Committee Annual Report 2019
Events and Outreach Committee Annual Report 2019
The Victorian Community History Awards Report 2019
RHSV Foundation Annual Report 2019
RHSV Treasurer’s Annual Report 2019
RHSV Financial Statements 2019
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 2019
President’s Annual Report 2019
It was my privilege to be elected president of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria at its May 2019 AGM, in its 110th year of existence. It is important to note that the RHSV is the second-oldest historical organisation extant in this country and that one of its founding members was the nation’s second prime minister, Alfred Deakin. It is thus a great honour to be entrusted with oversight of a society with such an impressive heritage.
The RHSV has been led for over a century by many community and some academic historians, all of whom have expressed a deep commitment to our state’s history and heritage. Not least of these is Associate Professor Don Garden OAM, who has led the RHSV for the past six years, one of the longest presidential terms in the society’s history. Don Garden’s tenure was characterised by hard work and foresight. He managed a significant staff transition after more than a decade of staff stability, and continually pressed governments hard for a resolution to our accommodation situation at the Drill Hall. We owe him a great debt of gratitude for these and many other reasons.
The RHSV is a key society in the life of Melbourne and Victoria. Its work is assisted by many bodies and people. We are honoured that Her Excellency, the Governor Linda Dessau AO, our Patron, provides warm and deep interest in our Society. The Lord Mayor Melbourne, Sally Capp, acts as our Civic Patron, so appropriate because the RHSV takes a keen interest in the history of our great city, within which it resides and operates. Bill Russell, an eminent public servant of Victoria and former RHSV president, is our current Ambassador who connects us to external parties to ensure our future. Minister Martin Foley and his department, Creative Victoria, provide modest but vital annual financial support. We thank them most sincerely for recognising history as a creative industry that bolsters our state’s imaginative and economic enterprise.
The RHSV has 330 affiliated historical societies as well as many individual members. Our mutually beneficial relationship with the local societies has strengthened over recent years, and we look forward to stronger ties into the future. The tireless work of the thousands of members in these societies amplifies the voice of history across Victoria. The RHSV has it own volunteers, listed at the back of this report, who give of their time each week to complete dozens of tasks around the society. Without their dedicated and passionate help, the RHSV could not accomplish a fraction of what it does on a regular basis and has achieved in 2019. Fortunately it is not a one-way transaction, for most if not all volunteers gain a great deal from the experience of volunteering—and, dare I say, have much fun in the process.
The members of the RHSV’s council and eight committees also do tireless voluntary work behind the scenes to progress the mission of the RHSV. Each committee is named and its activities and membership listed in this report. Suffice it to say here that all committee members in their own way make an important contribution to the practice of history in Victoria and its dissemination to wider audiences. For that I sincerely thank them all. It is invidious to name individuals, but I must refer to ten outstanding volunteers for their magnificent efforts in 2019. Elisabeth Jackson, our vice president, provided wise advice when needed and was tireless in her willingness to support whatever part of the work was needed, be it at the front desk or in research for one of our books. Elisabeth Jackson also headed the important Collections Committee. Carole Woods, RHSV secretary, not only played the key support role for our executive officer and chaired the Fellowship Committee, but also co-managed the Victorian Community History Awards with Public Record Office Victoria and, for the nineteenth year in a row, sat on the judging panel, which she has chaired in recent years. Carole’s heavy workload was relieved by Cathy Butcher, who was appointed assistant secretary. Cathy not only provided able support but also undertook special projects, including constitutional reform, and was vital to our MAP accreditation. Judith Smart undertook a demanding workload in co-editing the Victorian Historical Journal and acting as its copy editor, as well as copy editing and contributing content to two of our publications outlined in the Publications Committee report. Andrew Lemon, who once again organised our Speakers Program, performed superbly as MC and interlocutor at most of our lectures. He
also devised and hosted special events such as the very successful 90th birthday celebration for Professor John Poynter. Richard Barnden again played a key role in the Images Collection; Lenore Frost continued to be the inspiration behind our successful and financially important bookshop and annual book sale; David Thompson was key to creating and mounting our successful exhibitions; and John Rose was vital in keeping the place ticking materially. Our successful exhibition on quirky former RHSV member Isaac Selby was researched and curated by our volunteer Alison Cameron.
Some members and other supporters gave us great financial assistance. The RHSV Foundation created an honour board of the most significant benefactors and donors, which was mounted in the Drill Hall to inspire us all. Our donors are extremely important to us. Their gifts, large and small, are vital to our work and are acknowledged in History News twice yearly. Gordon Moffatt once again headed the list in 2019 with his great generosity to the society, but many others gave what they could spare. I have acknowledged every donation with a handwritten letter to honour the contribution each benefactor has made to our work.
The strength of the RHSV is also greatly dependent on our paid staff. Rosemary Cameron, who arrived at the end of 2017, continues to amaze us all with her passionate, meticulous and imaginative work as executive officer. We are extremely fortunate to reap the benefits of Rosemary’s wide experience as a cultural officer in diverse creative industries over several continents. Rosemary is also a very capable financial manager. She and our honorary treasurer, Daniel Clements, had placed the RHSV in a very sound financial situation by the end of 2019. Jillian Hiscock, our collections manager and volunteers coordinator, arrived in mid-2018 and has continued the hard work of her predecessor in bringing the RHSV catalogue into the 21 st century. Our catalogue entries have been progressively checked, corrected and deepened by the addition of thumbprints, and then entered onto TROVE to extend our reach across the country. Jillian has a passion for finding lost books and records on our own shelves and in RHSV offices, and she has unearthed many exciting and valuable treasures. She also provides wonderful leadership for our volunteers and orientates and trains new ones—a time- consuming task demanding special qualities. Other paid staff included Pankaj Sirwani, who ran the front office while Amy Clay was on maternity leave. Pankaj is a charming young man, willing to do anything that was needed, and during the year he made some significant adjustments to the way the office operated. We farewelled him in December on a holiday to his native India and wished him well in seeking new opportunities back in Melbourne befitting his Masters degree in accounting and financial management.
During 2019, new ideas naturally flowed from the society’s reorganisation and new leadership. For example, new opportunities for donations reaped a generous response from RHSV members; the membership fees were reformed around electronic delivery of our
journal and History News; and the members accepted the introduction of a modest $10 attendance fee to pay for the refreshments provided at most of the society’s lectures. There was a new and exciting RHSV publication (see the Publications Committee report); an increase in book launches and special events at the Drill Hall; the introduction of visits from schools for a VCE lecture by the president; and inaugural steps towards establishing and promoting Women’s History Month each March, including a dedicated RHSV lecture. There were also moves to create a permanent exhibition on the History of Melbourne, and to consider a related redesigning of the entrance spaces for the RHSV’s half of the Drill Hall. Both prospects looked promising by the end of the year. Our Drill Hall lights were finally replaced at minimal cost, thanks to a government energy rebate scheme; our entrance was made wheelchair friendly; and safe stairwell access to the mezzanine and officers’ mess was ensured by glass barriers funded by the Living Heritage Grants Program of the Victorian state government.
Altogether the Royal Historical Society of Victoria was buzzing even more than usual by the end of 2019!
Richard Broome AM, President