Over 80 people gathered in the The Lotus Hall to participate in the launch of the Research Centre for Deep History. In a warm Welcome to Country, Auntie Matilda House spoke about the value of Indigenous and women’s history. Auntie Matilda also spoke about the important shift in the scale of Australian history that the Research Centre would drive. She could see how it would support younger generations, including her three great grandsons, to know, learn and respect country and the depth of Indigenous history and knowledge.
Vice Chancellor Professor Brian P. Schmidt officially launched the Research Centre, noting its national benefits and the way in which it would shape modern history as well as the histories of the deep human past. “The story of humanity is a shared story”, he noted, “and our narratives and deep histories reflect that”.
Presentations followed by Professor Rae Frances, Dean of the College of Arts and Social Sciences, and Professor Frank Bongiorno, Acting Director of the Research School of Social Sciences, and Head of the School of History.
A statement from Professor Jaky Troy, the Chair of the Advisory Board, was read by one of the Research Centre’s team, Dr Laura Rademaker. Professor Troy applauded the Research Centre, because it would give “Indigenous people worldwide the opportunity to share knowledge, share histories that are documented in our minds, our landscapes, our music, our languages”.
Finally, Professor Asmi Wood, Acting Director of the National Centre for Indigenous Studies, spoke about continuing Indigenous sovereignty. “This always was and always will be Aboriginal land. History can inform those who have come later to be truthful and acknowledge what was here when European colonisers took these lands based on legal fictions”.
A major initiative emerging from the Rediscovering the Deep Human Past Laureate Program: Global Networks, Future Opportunities, the establishment of the Research Centre for Deep History was driven by the passion of its Director, Professor Ann McGrath.
Professor McGrath had always wanted to push history beyond the constraints of conventional post-1770 accounts of Australia’s human history. The emerging field of “deep history” offers the opportunity to reframe the past through engagement with western and Indigenous science and storytelling for up to 65,000 years of settlement. The Research Centre will allow different kinds of historical imagination to operate, which in turn will benefit historians and the academy, including a plan to create an interactive digital ancient memory atlas.
The launch had an outstanding show in the media. The news was covered across media platforms including two national newspapers, a national radio program, a NSW/ACT state-wide radio program, local television, and online. Here are some of them: WIN News, Canberra Times, The Australian, ANU News, and CASS News.