Documenting Australian Society summit in Canberra, 4 December 2018

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A summit to address Documenting Australian Society

On 4 December 2018 the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Committee will host a summit in Canberra to examine one of the most challenging cultural heritage issues facing Australia today ‒ achieving and implementing a unified vision for documenting Australian society.

The aim of the summit is to address a deficit that has changed very little since Professor Sue McKemmish wrote 17 years ago that "there is as yet no coherent, collaborative, nationally coordinated, encompassing fourth dimension collection policy framework for the whole of Australian society”.

More information on documenting Australian society, previous efforts that have been made to achieve this, and why it remains a fundamental challenge is available in the Summit's background paper.

This by-invitation one-day event is being held under the auspices of the Committee's parent organisation, the Australian National Commission for UNESCO, and has received strong sponsorship and endorsement from the National Archives of Australia as well as support from the Australian Society of Archivists and its venue host, the Canberra Museum and Art Gallery.

Delegates will include members of the Australian Memory of the World National Committee, and representatives from the Commonwealth's arts portfolio, key cultural heritage sectors, peak bodies and professions. There will also be two international experts, Laura Millar (Canada) and Mark Crookston (New Zealand); and invited speakers who will cover the documentation of broad societal themes such as science and technology, communities such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and formats such as audiovisual archives. A former National Library Director-General, Anne-Marie Schwirtlich AM, will be moderator for the day.

It is anticipated that concrete recommendations will result, including support for a declaration to complement the 2012 UNESCO/UBC Vancouver Declaration relating to the preservation of digital heritage. Initial outcomes from the summit will be available on this site in early 2019. For more information, contact Dr Ros Russell at

Sue McKemmish, "Placing Records Continuum Theory and Practice", Archival Science, no 1, 2001, p. 351.