Last updated:

29 October 2021

A documentary shining a light on the first Aboriginal filmmaker has won the top prize at the Victorian Community History Awards this week.

Tiriki Onus, Alec Morgan and Tom Zubrycki received the prestigious Victorian Premier’s History Award for their documentary Ablaze, which tells the story of Indigenous cultural leader and Aboriginal filmmaker William Bill Onus.

Described by judges as “history at its best”, the feature length documentary traces the origins of 1940s footage found within the National Film and Sound Archive.

Paul Paffen and Richard Broinowski were also recognised at the Awards, sharing the Judges’ Special Prize for their respective books For the Fallen and Under the Rainbow.

Other winning entries included a history of LGBTQI+ in Victoria, an oral history on Gippsland Lakes Fishermen and a documentary theatre production on prominent Goldfields businesswoman Fanny Finch.

The Victorian Community History Awards are presented by Public Record Office Victoria and the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, to recognise the work of individuals and organisations that preserve and share Victoria’s history.

The awards are supported by the Andrews Labor Government through the Community Support Fund.

The full list of winners can be found here.


Quotes attributable to Minister for Government Services Danny Pearson

“Congratulations to these fantastic directors for their outstanding work, showcasing the life and legacy of one of Australia’s most important Aboriginal filmmakers.”

“It’s important to preserve and share the history of Victoria and this year’s entrants have all done an incredible job in bringing diverse backgrounds to life.”

Quote attributable to Public Record Office Victoria Director and Keeper of Public Records Justine Heazlewood

“Well done to everyone who participated in this year’s Victorian Community History Awards. We are pleased to once again celebrate the local historians working hard to preserve the important stories of our past.”

Quote attributable to Royal Historical Society of Victoria President Emeritus Professor Richard Broome

“We applaud all the entrants to this year’s Awards for their hard work and creativeness and congratulate the category winners, in particular the creators of the documentary film Ablaze.”


Media releases

stick image newspapers

View our recent media releases

Material in the Public Record Office Victoria archival collection contains words and descriptions that reflect attitudes and government policies at different times which may be insensitive and upsetting

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples should be aware the collection and website may contain images, voices and names of deceased persons.

PROV provides advice to researchers wishing to access, publish or re-use records about Aboriginal Peoples