History Futures in Focus: State Historian role revived as ‘South Australia’s History Advocate’

South Australian history will soon gain a new champion.

Minister for Education, Hon John Gardner MP, who also has ministerial responsibility for the History Trust of South Australia has announced the creation of a new role – South Australia’s History Advocate.

“Twenty-five years ago the History Trust team included the State Historian. This important position was abolished and now, thanks to the Marshall Liberal Government, the role is to be revived and refreshed for the 21st century,” says the Minister.

“For years, the history community lamented the loss of our State Historian. The History Trust, under the able leadership of Greg Mackie OAM and the wise stewardship of Chair of Trustees, Elizabeth Ho OAM and our Board of Trustees, will be giving the role a more contemporary name and focus for the 21st century,” said the Minister.

“Our History Advocate will guide the sharing and telling of the diverse stories that make us who we are today. They will bring our special history into focus for present and future generations and visitors to South Australia. They will be our authoritative ‘go to’ person for media and will work with urban and regional communities and other groups to increase appreciation of our distinctive history,” said Elizabeth Ho. “We especially want school students to gain better access to our SA stories within the framework of the national curriculum,” she said.

New Edition of History Companion

In a second significant announcement, and to commemorate its 40th year in 2021, The History Trust is announcing the commissioning of a long-awaited second edition of the highly regarded Wakefield Companion to South Australian History with a special ‘Investing in History’ grant.

Originally published in 2001 by South Australia’s Wakefield Press and considered an essential reference for South Australian history teachers and researchers, this new edition of the Wakefield Companion, to be available in print and digital, will feature South Australia’s foundational histories alongside new research, and, for the first time, will include illustrations and maps. It will be complemented by enriched and dynamic online content for teachers and students accessible through The History Trust’s South Australian History Hub.

“Now more than ever it is important to invest in the access to knowledge and understanding of our history. This initiative will ensure more of South Australia’s stories are gathered, preserved and shared- now and for future generations,” says History Trust CEO, Greg Mackie OAM.

The new revised edition will be edited by Emeritus Professor Wilfred Prest AM and is expected to be released in mid-2024. Wakefield Press will engage up to two historians to work on this project. It will also provide professional development opportunities for an intern.

Migration Museum Repairs

Visitors to the History Trust’s Migration Museum since May 2021 will have discovered that the popular 19th century migration galleries have been closed to the public. Investigations of severe cracking revealed deeper problems in urgent need of remediation. From a variety of sources, the Marshall Government has committed some $900,000 to address the first stages of these critical repair works in Galleries 3 and 4. Once completed new permanent exhibitions will be installed.


The History Trust of South Australia is the leading voice for making the stories of South Australia relevant across the world, for the world. Telling the stories of South Australia is core to its purpose: it is responsible for building the evidence of our state’s rich and fascinating past and to making it relevant and accessible to everyone.

Through its annual grant programs, The History Trust champions history for all South Australians by investing in emerging and established historians, fostering innovative research and engagement and contributing to the knowledge, understanding and sharing of SA’s rich history.

A copy of our 2020-21 Highlights publication can be accessed via History Trust Highlights 2020-21 | History Trust of South Australia

Chloe Svaikauskas

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