Library calls on public to save stories of country Victorians

James-Wiltshire-Adam-Wheeler-on-his-horse-Cudgewa-June-2020State Library Victoria has launched a public appeal to raise $100,000 to document the devastating effects of COVID-19 and the recent bushfires on Victoria’s regional and rural communities.

The photography project, Focus on country Victoria, will engage five local photographers from five Victorian regions to unearth the untold stories of loss and resilience in the aftermath of an extraordinary 2020.

These pictures, along with a collection of oral histories, will be added to the State collection, ensuring that the unique and deeply personal experiences of regional and rural communities can be shared with current and future generations.

Public donations towards Focus on country Victoria will fund the photographers and researchers, who will each unearth eight individual community stories.

Many voices will contribute to a total of 40 stories, including those of emergency service workers, healthcare workers, park rangers, teachers and education staff, community leaders, agricultural workers, local industry workers, shopkeepers, delivery drivers, and tourism operators.

State Library Victoria Collection, Curation and Engagement Manager, Toni Burton said funds raised from the Appeal will play a vital role in documenting the experience of country Victoria, and giving country communities a voice in the state collection.

“Regional and rural communities have been hit especially hard by COVID-19 and last year’s bushfires, and they responded with courage and an incredible sense of community spirit. Our role as a Library is to collect and protect the records that tell these history-making moments in time,” she said.

Focus on country Victoria aims to document and share the irreplaceable memories of regional and rural Victorians, and to ensure that Victorians can better understand them through our Collection,” said Ms Burton.

A pilot version of the project was developed in 2019 with photographers engaged across Mallacoota, Apollo Bay, Colac, Albury-Wodonga, Bairnsdale and Foster. Their images are currently on display in the Library’s Victoria Gallery and can also be viewed via an online gallery.

The Focus on country Victoria appeal will run until 30 June 2021. For more information and to make a donation, visit: for details.

Image: James Wiltshire, Adam Wheeler on his horse, Cudgewa, June 2020