NSW 2015 History Fellowship (Emerging) winner announced

The rich and untold history of influential Sydney Aboriginal figures will be brought to life following the awarding of the inaugural NSW History Fellowship (Emerging) to Sydney historian Paul Irish last week.


Mr Irish, who has expertise in the city’s Aboriginal heritage, has been awarded the fellowship by Arts NSW to research fascinating details about Aboriginal residents currently left off the historical record.

“The awarding of this new $30,000 NSW Government fellowship will allow Mr Irish to integrate historical research, verbal history and archaeology while working closely with the Eastern Zone Gujaga Aboriginal Corporation based in La Perouse,” NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts Troy Grant said.

“His project will be presented through public talks at local historical societies and Aboriginal community venues, and an exhibition and a series of biographical maps showing how Aboriginal people lived and the influences on their way of life over time.”

Mr Irish is an emerging historian with great promise and has been working closely with the Aboriginal community in La Perouse to study 19th century coastal settlements. His 14-month fellowship project will explore and detail these changes and continuities by mapping their activities, movements and cultural connections.

Research subjects include influential Aboriginal individuals engaged creatively with the Europeans and the economy in Sydney: Thomas Tamara, Johnny Malone, Biddy Giles, Ellen Anderson, Kate Foot, and William Rowley.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Leslie Williams said the historical material brought to light by the fellowship project will become a valuable resource for the Aboriginal community.

“This is an exciting opportunity to highlight the role of important historical figures in Aboriginal communities. As Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, I am proud the NSW Government is supporting this initiative,” Mrs Williams said.

The NSW History Fellowship (Emerging) aims to support an individual to develop their skills through a self-directed program of professional development culminating in a public work.

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Published: 19 May 2015