Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Koori Mail delivers for online research

Interesting timing that just when the digitisation program of AIATSIS (which is part of its legislated function of collecting, preserving and making accessible its collections) got defunded and the organisation had to go into the red with its budget to extend the program for another six months, this wonderful resource has become available. I'm talking about the Koori Mail, an icon of the news media for Indigenous Australians. Twenty years worth of the publication encompassing 35,000 pages have been digitised, thus enabling searching on personal names, subjects, clan names, etc. This is bound to be a great resource for Indigenous Australians and those doing research on Indigenous Australia. To start searching stories on your mob follow the link.
Koori Mail Collection Online

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

A disgrace and kick in the teeth for Indigenous Australian Studies

It is an absolute disgrace that the world’s leading research, collecting and publishing institution in the field of Australian Indigenous studies is forced to beg for philanthropic input to enable it to function after almost 10 years of NO increase in their budget appropriation from government. Just another kick in the teeth for Indigenous Australians: 
" Consolidating and elevating the profile, reputation and authority of AIATSIS through a strategic approach to its external communications and stakeholder relations activities. This planning  would include review of options for philanthropic support and for increasing opportunities to undertake consultancy activity." pg 90 AIATSIS Resources and planned performance

Short term reprieve for digitisation program AIATSIS

It's official!! Tonight's budget statement for AIATSIS confirms that AIATSIS will be allowed to carry a deficit over the 2011-2012 financial year to enable a six month extension to their digitisation program:

"Funding for the digitisation program terminates on 30 June 2011, and the Finance Minister has approved an operating loss for AIATSIS to continue digitisation in 2011-12. Digitisation has been occurring to preserve Commonwealth cultural heritage materials in the face of identified deadlines for the disintegration of analogue magnetic tape collections. The temperature and humidity controlled vaults housing the collections and rare  books can only slow the deterioration process, not reverse it. In addition the equipment to play certain formats of archival material  is  rapidly  becoming  unavailable. Given  the  current  rate  of  obsolescence  in analogue and other dated technologies, AIATSIS has a maximum period of 15 years to digitise this material. Further funding beyond 2011-12 would be needed to continue digitisation at current levels."Pg 88-89 AIATSIS Agency Resources & planned performance
Of course this isn't good enough. At a time when the Treasurer Wayne Swan is making jobs the centrepiece of the budget he and the government are being highly selective about how this is applied. If you are a public servant (no doubt who will be at the forefront of delivering services relating to the increased expenditure in mental health) or working in an Indigenous organisation or if you are an Indigenous Australian it doesn't bode well for you in terms of jobs. The short term reprieve to the 37 staff at AIATSIS who would be out of a job come 30 June 2011 will now occur at the end of December 2011. And hopefully the deterioration of frail audio and video material will be contained until AIATSIS can manage to secure further funds after December 2011.