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Koorie Records Unit Newsletter


The Koorie Records Unit Newsletter is published biannually by the Koorie Records Unit at Public Record Office Victoria (PROV).

The Koorie Records Unit promotes awareness about Victorian Aboriginal records held by Public Record Office Victoria and the National Archives of Australia and aims to improve the accessibility of these records to the wider Aboriginal community.


  • Footprints exhibition visits Canberra
  • Aboriginal community group from the west visits PROV
  • Aboriginal records currently on display at Old Treasury Building
  • New fact sheet on Aboriginal petitions
  • The Australian Society of Archivists (ASA): Loris Williams Scholarship
  • New guide for researching Aboriginal History
  • Koorie Records Unit staff news
  • ‘I’ve Been Working On The Railway’ Exhibition 
  • PROV Calendar of Events

Footprints exhibition visits Canberra

Studio portrait of the Pepper family, circa 1912. Back (left to right): Dora and Percy with Sam; front: Gwendoline, Alice, Sarah, Lucy and Phillip. Lucy and Percy’s youngest daughter, Lena, was born in 1915.

Courtesy of the Watkins family.
    To celebrate Reconciliation Week 2013, the National Archives in Canberra hosted the Public Record Office Victoria exhibition Footprints: the journey of Lucy and Percy Pepper. The Archives also included some original documents from the World War I defence service records of Percy Pepper and his brother-in-law, Harry Thorpe to supplement this story of a Victorian Aboriginal family in the first half of the 20th century.
    More than 150 people attended special events held on Tuesday 28 May to launch the exhibition and over 550 people visited the exhibition during the week it was open.
Pastor Ossie Cruse, a grandson of Lucy and Percy Pepper, was the guest of honour at the launch and gave talks to the public and to Archives staff. He spoke about the challenges that Aboriginal people faced and shared some moving personal stories of his family’s struggles.
Four of Pastor Cruse’s brothers and sisters and a number of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren came from as far as Queensland, Sydney and Eden and joined other guests in an afternoon tea to officially launch the exhibition. Ngunnawal elder, Aunty Agnes Shea, gave the Welcome to Country.
A highlight of the opening day was being offered a scarf to display in the Canberra exhibition. Percy Pepper bought the scarf in 1918 when he was a soldier in France just before returning home. It is now owned by Percy’s grandson, BJ Cruse, who loaned it to the Archives for the exhibition. The scarf took pride of place in a showcase at the front of the exhibition.
To book Footprints for your venue contact:

See more at the PROV website.

Aboriginal community group from the west visits PROV

Contribution by Debbie Murray, Indigenous Community Development Broker
A partnership between the Western Metropolitan Local Indigenous Networks (LINS) and the Koorie Records Unit resulted in a visit by Aboriginal community members from the west to the Public Record Office Victoria.
Staff of the Koorie Records Unit hosted the group of 12 community members early in July this year. The purpose of the  visit was to provide practical tips and advice to community members who had little knowledge of PROV or the extensive information it holds, that could assist them and their families continue or start the journey to finding out more of their families stories and connections.

The visit included a yummy lunch, a tour of the "Reading Room" as well as time for community members to search the Koorie Index of Names database. Community thoroughly enjoyed the visit and many have now since visited PROV on their own or been in contact with Koorie Records staff for assistance with the searching of family names and records.
KRU note: If your community group would like to visit PROV for a half or full-day workshop to learn more about the Aboriginal records and family history resources held by PROV and the National Archives please feel free to contact us at  

Aboriginal records currently on display at Old Treasury Building


PROV, VPRS 4399/P0, Unit 1, Appendix 2 to the Chief Protector’s General Report of the Department of Aborigines, Port Phillip 1848

Public Record Office Victoria has changed its display of original historical documents relating to Indigenous Victorians for the Victorian Archival Treasures exhibit at the Old Treasury Building. Now on display is:
  • a census of Aboriginal people living in the vicinity of Melbourne in March 1839, collected by Assistant Protector Edward Stone Parker;
  • an 1880 plan showing a proposed increase of Lake Tyers Reserve in Gippsland, as part of the Victorian Government’s proposal to close Coranderrk Station near Healesville;
  • a vocabulary listing common English words and translations into eleven Aboriginal languages of south-eastern Australia, dated 1849; and
  • a moving letter written by prominent supporter of Aboriginal people, Anne Fraser Bon, regarding conditions at Coranderrk Station in 1882.

New fact sheet on Aboriginal petitions

The fact sheet with more information about the petitions and related records, including links to digitised records, is available on the National Archives' website. 
The theme for NAIDOC Week this year centred on the 50th anniversary of the Yirrkala bark petitions, and the National Archives has prepared a fact sheet covering information the Archives holds about three Aboriginal petitions:
  • the petition by the Aboriginal Advancement League to King George V, 1937, seeking representation in Parliament, citizenship and land rights for Aboriginal people.;
  • the Yirrkala bark petitions, sent by the Yolngu people from Yirrkala in eastern Arnhem Land in 1963; and
  • the 1972 petition organised by Larrakia people to the Queen, asking her to help Aboriginal people achieve land rights, a treaty and political representation.

The Australian Society of Archivists (ASA): Loris Williams Scholarship

Two Australian Society of Archivists Loris Williams Scholarships are available each year for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who wish to train for careers in archives and records management at a University or TAFE.

Each scholarship will provide up to $3,000 which can be used to pay fees, books and computing costs. Scholarship holders will also be given associate membership of the Australian Society of Archivists and will have a mentor to guide them in developing their career.
For further information and to apply please visit the website.  

New guide for researching Aboriginal history

In January 2014 the Koorie Records Unit will be releasing a new publication, walata tyamateetj, A guide to government records about Aboriginal people in Victoria. The guide contains information about records and record series relating to Victorian Aboriginal people and Aboriginal Affairs held by both Public Record Office Victoria and the National Archives of Australia.

Stay tuned for further details early in the new year.

Koorie Records Unit staff news

The Koorie Records Unit acknowledges the contribution of Jessica Reid, who came into the role of Koorie Reference Officer for a period of  six   months between April and October 2013 whilst   Grace Baliviera was on secondment in another role within the National Archives. 

Jess enjoyed her time in the KRU, and says:
“After dealing regularly with clients of the KRU, I can tell you that these records and the reference service have a real effect on people's lives.  I have been told a number of times how records in the collection have helped to reconnect people with family and this has been one of the most rewarding aspects of the work.”

Grace has now rejoined the KRU – welcome back Grace!

‘I’ve Been Working On The Railway’ Exhibition 

Through the 1950s, 60s and 70s, there were large scale developments of rail infrastructure across Australia. In the hot and dusty environments of the inland north, it was a common scene to find Torres Strait Islanders, Australian South Sea Islanders and Aboriginal people working long and hard in the hot sun.

The exhibition explores their little known stories, including the camp life, the realities of the work, the hardships, the separation from their land, islands and family and the opportunities and challenges of working on the railway.

23 November 2013 to 18 May 2014
National Archives of Australia
Queen Victoria Terrace
Parkes ACT

PROV Calendar of Events

December 2013 - January 2014

Christmas Closure:
The Victorian Archives Centre will be closed from Wednesday 25th of December and will reopen to the public on Thursday 2nd of January.
Mon 16 Dec
Tour of the archives
Researching Regional Records

Sat 11 Jan
Saturday Opening

Tues 14 Jan
Tour of the archives
Introduction to the PROV online catalogue
Sat 25 Jan
Saturday Opening
Wed 29 Jan
Tour of the Archives
Researching Property Records

Visit our events calendar here to see a full list of Public Record Office Victoria's events and programs.

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