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The Aboriginal Voice | Cultural Diversity

Cultural diversity is one of the fundamental aspects about South Australia, perhaps more so than any other state in Australia. From the early German settlers, to the post-war European immigration to the more diverse Asian immigration of more recent times, we now have the multi-cultural society we are proud to live in today. The Library is particularly strong in oral histories and storytelling - in 35 languages in fact.

Oral history is widely appreciated as an essential method for gaining information and insight into the experiences of people from minority groups, including Aborigines and migrants of non-English speaking backgrounds.

The J.D. Somerville Oral History Collection is a cornerstone of the State Library's commitment to diversifying its collection to include people from all groups within the community. The State Library of South Australia actively collects recordings of the experiences of people of all cultural backgrounds and has provided consultative assistance and support to individuals and groups that are interested in creating such collections.

Currently about fifteen per cent of the interviewees represented in the Somerville Collection are of non-English speaking background, recounting their experiences, or telling traditional stories, in their original languages or in English. The Collection holds material in 35 languages and represents an even greater diversity of cultural backgrounds in recordings where people speak in English as their second language.

One interviewing program involves post-war Italian women migrants. The interviews about their personal responses to their transitions from Italy to Australia are being conducted in Italian and feature a variety of dialects, including Calabrese, Campano, Veneziano, Basilicato and Pugliese. The interviews have been produced using the Somerville Collection's excellent loan equipment.

An exciting aspect of the use of oral history to document the experiences of people of non-English speaking background is the way in which many school-based oral history projects focus on the multiculturalism of their student populations. The Somerville Collection has a variety of examples of school students' work in this area.


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This page last updated on Tuesday 30 July 2019



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Link to sa.gov.au - South Australian Government