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Gill Hicks and Matt Finch - a report from Switch 2016

In late 2016 staff from the Public Library and Indigenous Services attended the SWITCH Conference, in the beautiful town of Ulladulla on the NSW South coast. The teams were included in the shared session ‘State Library of NSW showcase’, and had the chance to present a range of different projects  the Library is working on.

Kirsten Thorpe and Monica Galassi from the Indigenous Services team launched Indigenous Spaces in Library Places. A Strategy to provide Indigenous services across the public library network, and to encourage public libraries across NSW to build greater awareness, support and engagement with Indigenous peoples and communities. Ross Balharrie presented the new software IndiReads, which is currently piloted by the Library and provide great opportunities for self-publishing. Helen Cowan and Ellen Forsyth spoke about the great prospects of online professional development to engage with libraries across the State and the potential of developing multiple programs and activities online.

After being welcomed to Murramarang country by a local elder, Uncle Fred, the 2 days included terrific presentations from all over NSW. In addition to staff from public libraries, the conference also hosted a wide range of speakers from different background and interests.

Here some snapshots from the SWITCH 2016 Conference.

Dr Gill Hicks is known globally as a survivor of the London Terrorist Bombings of 7 July 2005. Gill survived the attack, but suffered severe and permanent injuries, losing both legs from just below the knee. After this terrible accident, Gill decided to dedicate her life to being an advocate for peace. Among a big number of other achievements, in 2007 Gill founded the not-for-profit organisation M.A.D. for Peace, a platform that connects people globally and encourages us to think of 'peace' as a verb, something that we have an individual responsibility to 'do' every day. Gill released her first book one year later, One Unknown, named after the chilling label given to her when she arrived at the hospital after the bombing as an unidentified body. Richard Morecroft (the well-known TV presenter from ABC) interviewed Gill, and their conversation was incredibly moving, and inspirational. With a reflective and often ironic style, Gill spoke about the importance of finding common grounds with other peoples, cultures and religions in order to overcome differences, touching important topics such as the existence of unconditional love, the importance of timely prevention of religious integralism and the roles libraries can have in bringing people together to discuss different viewpoints.

Dr Matt Finch is currently the 2016 Creative in Residence at State Library of Queensland. Matt focused his talk on the importance of co-creation in libraries and of building institutions that are inclusive of all peoples of our diverse communities: libraries should provide valuable access for all. “Do we do things with people or to them?" was one of the many inspiring concepts Matt stated with passion during his presentation. For Matt “Equity means recognising complexity” and highlighted the importance of “action, listening...rather than inaction”. Matt inspired the entire public reminding about the impact of British colonisation on Indigenous people, history and culture and on the “white privilege”, reminding of the importance of critical listening and critical thinking. Referring to his experience with Indigenous communities across Queensland, Matt asked the public “Why we not incorporating?” and “Who are we not including?”: “Because we think it's too hard”. Matt Finch concluded suggesting to be aware of the groups we are not listening to, have brave and kind ideas”. 

Blog post by Monica Galassi

If you missed the conference you can still review the Twitter conversation via this Storify. 




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