Australia Calls: Whitehorse exhibition launch

Throughout 2015 we have been working with Whitehorse City Council to produce an exhibition commemorating the centenary of World War I and examining the impact of the war on the local community. Australia Calls was launched in the Whitehorse Artspace at Box Hill Town Hall on Friday 11 September by Whitehorse City Councillor Helen Harris, Federal Member for Chisholm Anna Burke and Federal Member for Deakin Michael Sukkar.

The exhibition examines the impact of the war on Whitehorse by exploring the stories of local families and individuals – from those who enlisted and experienced the war first hand, to residents who contributed to the war effort from Australian shores. We had the rich resources and archival collections of local historical societies to draw on, as we researched the stories of five local servicemen and examined themes including local recruitment efforts and fundraising activities, the conscription debate, and efforts to support returned serviceman following the war and to commemorate their experiences.

Way Back When historian Nicole Curby with panels telling the stories of local servicemen.

Way Back When historian Nicole Curby with panels telling the stories of local servicemen.

The exhibition also features abridged articles printed in local newspapers during the war, and stories contributed by the family members of local residents who lived through the war years. There are items from local heritage collections and private family collections on display.

We also conducted an oral history project with descendants of local servicemen, and the exhibition features four audio documentaries created from these interviews. The documentaries include stories from the battlefront and examine what life was like for returned servicemen after the war.

Click below to listen to this short audio documentary on remembering World War I.

Collection items on display.

Collection items on display.

Way Back When historians Sarah Rood, Fiona Poulton and Katherine Sheedy (far right) with local council and historical society members.

Way Back When historians Sarah Rood, Fiona Poulton and Katherine Sheedy (far right) with local council and historical society members.

It was a privilege for us to work with Whitehorse City Council, local historical societies and community members to produce this moving, informative and stunningly presented exhibition. We would like to thank the historical societies and community members for generously sharing their collections and stories with us.

Australia Calls will be open until 14 October 2015. We urge you to visit and explore the impact of the war on the Whitehorse community.

Fiona Poulton