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Plenary Session 2013 Conference

What happens when you find the inevitable “Skeleton in the Closet” when researching your family history? Should you share the “good news” with your family and friends or just leave it lie? Does it depend on how bad or how good the “find” is? What do you think? We would love to hear from you. Post your comments!!

The Plenary Session on Sunday 5 May 2013 concluded the VAFHO State Family History Conference in Ballarat held at Australian Catholic University, Aquinas Campus 3-5 May 2013. With Helen Bath as the convenor, and Voice FM undertaking the podcast, the four excellent and diverse speakers presented 7 minutes each discussing their experiences between public and private histories and the hidden traps that may present themselves. Some thought provoking views and sensitive issues (and what to do when you come across them) were discussed in this session that concluded the conference. Audience participation was as varied as the presenters, with some outstanding comments coming from the floor. This was an exciting session that drew much comment!

The podcast of the Plenary Session of the 8th Victorian State Family History Conference was recorded by members of Community Voice FM Radio with equipment and expertise provided by the station. A special thanks to  Australian Catholic University, Aquinas Campus, who kindly allowed the use of the Mulkearns Theatre and Mark Barrins who supplied IT knowledge.

Please CLICK on the link below to hear the speakers of the Plenary Session and the Open Discussion.

helen-bathConvener: Helen Bath

Helen has been the Operations Manager [Voluntary] of Ballarat Community FM Radio Co-op Ltd Trading as: 99.9 Voice FM since 2008. She works with an amazing team of volunteers, partnerships with Community Groups and Organizations. Helen secures grants to enable equipment upgrade and replacement and manages the website content and music library. She is also responsible for the ongoing development of policy and procedures at Voice FM. Helen and the team from 99.9 Voice FM facilitated the plenary session and podcast.

IMGP2887Introduction: Dr Dorothy Wickham

As president of Victorian Interpretive Projects Inc. and a member of the committee of the Victorian Association of Family History Organisations, Dorothy played a major role in organising Under the Southern Cross: A Goldfields Experience. A most successful conference, it was instrumental in melding family historians with local and academic professionals in a pleasant and friendly environment. Dorothy is a director of Ballarat Heritage Services, a researcher, historian, archivist and publisher. She has won many awards for her authorship and publishing. Her latest accolades include winning the Special Heritage Skills (Research and Authors) in the Ballarat Heritage Awards 2013 and an award for 10 years outstanding service on the VAFHO committee.

Dr Kate Prinsley

Executive Officer RHSV

Kate Prinsley has been the Executive Officer of the RHSV for the past six years. She was the first director of the Florence Nightingale Museum in London where she won the London Tourist Board’s top award for marketing; and an English Tourism Award. Kate enjoys working with historical societies and volunteers as we all share a passion for history, working with collections and working within our communities.

She was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to investigate the sustainability of local history within communities. The research was both inspiring and thought provoking with the greatest pleasure coming from the many museum professionals that she met who would begin their greeting with “we look to Australia – you do things well”.

Megan Gibson

Megan Gibson Family Tree Time fobwatch 1-20

“Before it’s too late” is the motto of Family Tree Time founder, freelance author and family tree researcher Megan Gibson, who had a wake-up call when a relative passed away, taking many family stories to the grave. As a teenager attending every family history course she could, later studying Australian history at university, through to working in organisational roles on national TV productions such as Playhouse Disney and Australian Idol, and later as Executive Assistant for the-then Deputy Director of the National Film & Sound Archive, Megan’s experience in media and history led to work as a freelance researcher on some episodes of the hit Australian TV series Who Do You Think You Are?.

Megan’s own list of timesaving research and organising tips grew into her book, How To Get More Family Tree Time – Tips for the Time Poor!, as well as many “tips & tales” seminars for audiences Australia-wide. Through her media and research work, Megan often faces the theoretical and practical issues of how to balance preserving family history truthfully, often for a wider audience, with the responsibilities of respecting family sensitivities and privacy.

A member of the Society of Australian Genealogists and the Oral History Association of Australia, and a former magazine editor, Megan writes for magazines (eg Inside History), takes on research for clients around Australia, has been a guest on radio (eg ABC Radio National) and speaks at family history events (eg “It’s All Relative”, National Library of Australia 2012). Her passion is to help people beat the “I’m too busy” blues to start or progress with their family tree research …before it’s too late.

Read more about Megan at

Dr Val Noone

ValDoctor Val Noone is an Australian historian who has written extensively on social history and has a particular interest in the history of the Irish Language in Victoria, Australia, in its social, cultural and linguistic aspects. He is an Honorary Fellow of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne.

He completed a degree in Biblical studies, at Corpus Christi College, Melbourne and his doctoral thesis on religious attitudes to war. He spent a number of years as a priest and retains a strong interest in the social history of the Church.

He has published many books, articles and reviews, and has been a co-contributor to historical articles in Irish published by the Irish journal Feasta. He is a member of the Irish Language Society of Australia and was the editor of Táin, the magazine of the Irish Australian Network, which ceased publication in 2007. His most notable recent work is Hidden Ireland in Victoria, an overview of the history of the Irish language in south eastern Australia. He was awarded a medal of the Order of Australia in June 2009.

Michael Taffe

PENTAX ImageMichael’s career has been in education, welfare, history and archives.  He is the Catholic Diocesan archivist and school archivist at Loreto College. He holds related diplomas and also degrees in English and History with an MA in history. His major research explored Victoria’s Avenues of Honour and civic image through the landscape. Many journal articles and two histories, Exploring Ballarat’s Garden Heritage, and Love One Another, a centenary history of Ballarat’s Cathedral Conference of St Vincent de Paul, have been published. Michael is a people person, a horticulturalist, past Secretary of Eureka’s Children, and an avid bibliophile whose book collecting interests have been published here and in the UK. Michael is the president of Central Highlands Historical Association.

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