HCSA Historian Awards 2019 Winners

Emerging Historian:

Stuart Symons

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Stuart Symons holding his certificate

Over the past two years, Stuart Symons has emerged as an active and engaging independent historian of Adelaide’s modernist architecture and architects. Since founding ‘Modernist Adelaide’ in October 2017, Stuart has researched, visited, photographed, written and presented on 85 significant examples of Adelaide’s architecture. With strong written and verbal communication skills, Stuart has used a range of means to raise community awareness and strengthen the community profile of Adelaide’s post-war architectural heritage. His consistent and regular publishing on social media has received high levels of engagement by the community. In 2018 Stuart staged a free public exhibition of his photographs of Adelaide’s modernist architecture. He is respected for the rigour of his research, his engaging presentation and his collaborative and inclusive approach.


Regional Historian:

Helen Hennessey of Gawler

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Helen Hennesey holding her certificate

For over thirty years, Helen Hennessey has been committed to the preservation of the heritage of the town of Gawler. In 1995 she established the Gawler Public Library and its Local History Collection. In 1997 she co-ordinated the commissioning of a written history for Gawler’s sesquicentenary celebrations, which led to the creation of the Gawler Oral History Project. Since 2015 Helen has been a Community Representative of the Gawler Heritage Collection Committee and active in the establishment of the new Cultural Heritage Centre and Heritage Gallery.

Helen’s broad perspective encompasses many community associations and many different types of collections. Her advocacy for the preservation of buildings has actively engaged the community. She utilises her professional knowledge and skills to diplomatically introduce best concept practices to community collections. She actively embraces new technologies to provide maximum access and inclusivity, broadening the community’s understanding and appreciation of their heritage.


Lifelong Historian:

Pauline Payne and Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien

Three women and one man, one of the women holding a certificate

Pauline Payne holding her certificate

Dr Pauline Payne’s interests include oral history, heritage surveys, community and family history. She has worked in the field of history as a private consultant, community historian and university academic. Her publications are in the form of sole and co-authored books, articles in scholarly journals and community magazines, entries in the Australian Dictionary of Biography and chapters in numerous edited books. The range of topics she has covered includes the History of Science, History of Medicine, biographies, German settlement in South Australia, suburban history and civic history.

Pauline is the long-serving President of the History of Science, Ideas and Technologies Group (which she helped found) and a committee member of the German Heritage Research Group and the Professional Historians Association (South Australian Branch). She is also a member of and contributes to the Oral History Association of Australia, the Medical Heritage Society, and the Australian Garden History Society. Her contributions to History over the decades have been exemplary.

A man holding a certificate

Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien holding his certificate

Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien was born at Point Pearce mission on the Yorke Peninsula where Aunty Gladys Elphick, in particular, had a great influence on him. After completing Aboriginal Studies courses in the 1970s, he began working in schools. He soon became a mentor for hundreds of Aboriginal children, families and inmates for over 30 years.

Uncle Lewis combines knowledge passed down from his Elders with information gained from historians who work with written records. He has developed an original capacity to combine Aboriginal ways of knowing with western philosophy. He has been a driving force in re-inscribing a Kaurna presence into the Adelaide topographical and cultural landscape and bringing to light Aboriginal knowledge and protocols.

Since the 1960s, Uncle Lewis has been a tireless and proud contributor to heritage, arts, sports and, of course, education—from pre-school through to tertiary studies. He has been unremitting in his efforts to restore, maintain and evolve cultural knowledge and revive the Kaurna language, and he has been a tireless advocate of reconciliation.


Historian of the Year:

Robert Kearney

A man holding a certificate

Robert Kearney holding his certificate

Bob Kearney is a self-trained, naturally analytical and meticulous researcher and has a true gift for storytelling. His love of history, especially military history, led him to develop an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Great War and wars that followed it. His knowledge of the Vietnam War is given an extra dimension by his own experience in it. In just under 20 years he has made a major contribution to the knowledge and understanding of the nation’s role in major conflicts and most particularly the impacts of the community of South Australia.

Bob has sole-authored 2 books and co-authored 4 books. His most recent book, Valour and Violets, commissioned by the State government and co-authored with Sharon Cleary, was published in 2018 by Wakefield Press.  He is the chief research historian at the Virtual War Museum. He works closely with teachers and students, helping them develop skills to conduct their own accurate research. All who have worked with or engaged with Bob have benefited from his knowledge, skill and gift at communicating history. His contribution to our understanding of war and its impact has been on-going and is immense.