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Author: Tara Oldfield

Senior Communications Advisor

A book about the history of Mechanics’ Institutes of Victoria has been awarded top prize at this years’ Victorian Community History Awards at a ceremony held at the Arts Centre today.

Mechanics’ Institutes in Victoria have historically been meeting places for adult education, entertainment and the arts. The book These Walls Speak Volumes: A History of Mechanics’ Institutes in Victoria by Pam Baragwanath and Ken James, provides an insight into their pioneering role as one of Victoria’s earliest community organisations.

Magda Szubanski was awarded the Judges’ Special Prize for her autobiography Reckoning, delving into her father’s dark past, while Anne Doyle’s book about the Somali community of West Heidelberg, Wadaddi Nabadda. Paths to Peace, won the inaugural Cultural Diversity Award.  

Other winning entries included a book about activism during 1970s Melbourne, the story of Hector Crawford and documentaries about Malvern’s gifted Jewish sculptor Karl Duldig. 

Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings congratulated the winners on their contribution to Victorian history.

“These fantastic award winning projects document our history and the development of Victoria as we know it today.”

“I want to congratulate every winner on their contribution to detailing the many stories and perspectives of Victoria’s rich history,” Minister Jennings said.

Justine Heazlewood, Public Record Office Victoria Director and Keeper of Public Records acknowledged the great range of entries seen this year.

“From books about citizens and institutions, to documentaries, websites and valuable online databases – these projects provide the entire community with rich and diverse resources for learning about the history of Victoria.”

The Victorian Community History Awards are presented by Public Record Office Victoria in partnership with the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, and funded by the Victorian Government.

A major event of History Week, the annual Victorian Community History Awards recognise the work of individuals and organisations committed to telling stories of local history.

Victorian Community History Awards 2016 full list of winners:

A photo of the book cover of These Walls Speak VolumesVictorian Community History Award
These Walls Speak Volumes: A History of Mechanics’ Institutes in Victoria by Pam Baragwanath and Ken James
Published by the authors

Judges’ Special Prize
Reckoning: A Memoir by Magda Szubanski
Text Publishing

Collaborative Community Award
Breaking Out: Memories of Melbourne in the 1970s edited by Susan Blackburn
Hale & Iremonger

Local History Project Award
‘We Are All of One Blood’. A History of the Djabwurrung Aboriginal People of Western Victoria, 1836-1901 by Ian D. Clark

History Publication Award
Hector: The Story of Hector Crawford and Crawford Productions by Rozzi Bazzani

Local History Small Publication Award
The Village of Ripponlea by Judith Buckrich
Lauranton Books

Cultural Diversity Award
Wadaddi Nabadda. Paths to Peace. Voices of the Somali Speaking Community by Anne Doyle
Olympic Adult Education

Multimedia Award
We Remember: Honouring the Service & Sacrifice of Local Veterans and the Wangaratta Community During WW1, DVD and Website
Rural City of Wangaratta

Historical Interpretation Award
Duldig Studio Documentaries by Eva de Jong-Duldig and Dr David Smith
Duldig Studio

Centenary of WW1 Award
Home Front Ballarat WW1 Website:
Ballarat & District Genealogical Society

History Article (Peer Reviewed) Award
Beyond Failure and Success: The Soldier Settlement on Ercildoune Road by James Kirby
Provenance Journal

Download the winners booklet to learn more about each winner and view the list of commendations.

Check out the event gallery on Flickr.

For more information about the Victorian Community History Awards visit

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