Newsletter Issue Number:
AICCM National Newsletter No 146 June 2019
Jennifer O'Connell

Inquiry into Canberra’s national institutions

In 2018, AICCM made a submission to the Senate inquiry into Canberra’s national institutions. In April this year, the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories released its findings and recommendations in the report Telling Australia’s Story —and why it’s important: Report on the inquiry into Canberra’s national institutions (Commonwealth of Australia 2019).

The Committee addressed the concerns raised in the AICCM submission, such as the impact of efficiency dividends on cultural institutions. It was found that the efficiency dividend and targeting has resulted in cultural institutions struggling to complete core business in addition to growing their collections, and meeting requirements to engage externally. The Committee has recommended that the Australian Government consider adopting measures to offset the impact of these budgeting pressures. They also recommended reassessing the staffing caps that had been imposed. Submissions to the inquiry revealed that these caps resulted in temporary staff being hired to cover shortfalls, the process of which can be more costly than hiring permanent staff or staff on longer contracts. Other issues included increasing workloads on existing staff, and a loss of corporate knowledge and specialist skills.

Also raised in the submissions was the challenge national institutions are facing in regards to collection storage. It is difficult to find cost effective solutions that also meet best practice as institutions’ collections continuously grow. It was recommended that the Australian Government coordinate the development of a permanent shared collection storage facility. The recommendation includes that storage ‘should be developed and implemented in close consultation with relevant institutions to ensure it is fit-for-purpose to meet their current and future needs’ (Commonwealth of Australia 2019, p. 123).

In terms of new facilities, the Committee recommended a business case for a new natural history museum be put forward in response to issues around greater needs for access to natural science collections. The Committee also stated that there is a need for formal recognition of Australia’s Indigenous heritage within the Parliamentary zone with the following, ‘The Committee has recommended that AIATSIS be expanded with a new home in the Parliamentary zone and a broader role in presenting the story of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’ (Commonwealth of Australia 2019, p. ix).

There were a number of recommendations relating to a joint approach by the Australian Government to resolve certain issues. One area is the need for digitisation of collections, such as analogue audio-visual items by 2025, and the need for a whole of government strategy to complete this. There was also a concern that institutions are not working together to communicate the shared importance of their telling of a national story. Therefore, the committee recommended that, ‘Canberra’s national institutions develop and articulate a shared narrative that directly connects them with Australia’s story’ (Commonwealth of Australia 2019, p. vi).

The report has addressed many concerns that have been raised by conservators, and that were included in the AICCM submission. It will be interesting to see how the report is received and the next steps to implementing the recommendations.

Calls for papers – AICCM Bulletin Special Volume 41.1 and 2019 National Conference

In 2020, a Special Edition of The AICCM Bulletin will be published, entitled ‘Cultural Materials Conservation in Australia: critical reflections and key issues in the twenty-first century’. International submissions are also welcome with room for comparative analysis or collaboration with Australian organisations. Please visit the website for information on submitting an abstract.

The next AICCM event is the 2019 National Conference to be held in the Arts Centre, Melbourne, from 13 to 15 November. The call for papers is divided into three themes: making conservation sustainable, innovative and connected – we want to know what excites you, what challenges you, and what you want to discuss further. Please save the date for the conference and also the 2019 National AGM, which will be held at that time.

AICCM website upgrade

The AICCM website is going through a much-needed upgrade. The software used to host the website is becoming redundant and we will be changing to new software. This gives us a chance to makes changes to the structure, content and appearance. The goals are to move to a mobile-friendly website, to improve navigation around the site and to improve member access to information such as invoices. We will be moving to WordPress, which is widely used in the NGO sector, and retaining the same membership database, which will be compatible with the upgraded website.

AICCM National Council Face to Face meeting

National Council will meet up in Hobart over 21 and 22 June 2019 to have the annual Face to Face meeting. We will focus on the Business Plan, budget, AGM, 2019 & 2021 National Conferences, and review the membership survey data. Thank you to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery for hosting the meeting. The meeting includes a presentation by Steven Richardson from Creative Partnerships Australia on fundraising. I recently attended a workshop entitled ‘Creating a brand-led case for support’ presented by Jane Wentworth with Creative Partnerships Australia. The format was a presentation by Jane followed by creation of a case study in groups. The training showed how important it is to create a story for people to relate to, as opposed to promoting the finer details of the project. Professional Development for National Council members is a goal on the Business Plan, and these opportunities with Creative Partnerships Australia provide professional development for committee members, which makes us more effective in our work for AICCM. Perhaps you’re interested in a role on National Council? If so, please contact me or any of the other members to discuss.

Jennifer O’Connell
AICCM President