Roe8 Protest Community Collection Project 2018
Roe 8 Protest Community Collection Project 2018
Many hundreds of people in the southern suburbs of Perth described the experience of the 2017 Roe 8 Highway Protest as ‘like being in a war’. The reality was that for two and a half months in 2017 many ordinary people put their lives on hold, literally working days and nights on the suburban protest.
Protestors expected to lose everything – right up to the moment the state election was called on 11 March 2017. With the electoral result came the end of one of the most important environmental protests in Western Australia’s history. The Roe 8 protest helped unseat the conservative Barnett Liberal government, and the landslide victory for Labor was testament to the resilience of ‘people power’.
Museums today often tag themselves as ‘safe places for unsafe ideas’. However, when it comes to collecting and documenting contemporary stories of protest – especially struggles against government policies – many museums and collecting agencies tend to hesitate or act too slowly.
In the case of the Roe 8 opposition movement a group of protestors – some with museum experience but without institutional support – acted together to try to ensure that authentic objects and first-hand memories of this particular protest would be collected in ways that could be accessed by researchers and museum curators in the future. A Roe 8 Collecting Group was formed. Its purpose was to collect varied material that disrupted any generic view of ‘the protestors’, while instead documenting the many courageous, creative, humorous and opportunistic ways that a great range of people expressed their opposition.
In July 2018 the group, with the support of the Army Museum of WA and Museums Australia WA, held a Roe 8 Community Collecting Day. People were asked to fill out donation forms, tell their story about the objects offered, and clear copyright permissions so that these processes were already complete for any collecting institutions that might finally receive the objects. A simple FileMaker Pro database was designed to document the items as they were received, photographed and wrapped. A steady stream of people came forward over the course of the day, and more than 150 objects were collected.
Over the following year these objects and archives were distributed to the National Museum of Australia, The West Australian Museum and the State Library of WA, the Fremantle History Centre (3 oral histories: Corina Hayden-Howard nee Abraham, Kate Kelly and Kim Dravnieks).
An account of the process was written by Jo Darbyshire and published in the Museums Galleries Australia Magazine Vol 26 (2)- Autumn Winter 2018. (see images of pages attached)