This year the Community Heritage Grants (CHG) program is celebrating 30 years of operation. For over three decades the CHG program has been supporting community organisations to look after Australian cultural heritage collections.  

Since 1994, this program has provided more than $8.9 million dollars in funding to over 1,650 projects across Australia. Five of these organisations are featured in our 30th anniversary logo. Find out how the CHG program has assisted these organisations by reading their stories below.

Emerald and District Museum

Artwork showing an illustration of a 'catalgove' tree branch with leaves and flowers
C.A. Nobelius Catalogue of Fruit Trees, 1910. Image courtesy of Emerald and District Museum 

The Emerald Museum was established in 1969. Located in the heritage listed Nobelius Heritage Park, the Museum showcases a wide range of items relating to the history of the former Gembrook / C. A. Nobelius & Sons Nursery, as well as Emerald and surrounding districts. It is managed by a volunteer committee with support from the Cardinia Shire Council.

The Museum has received five CHG grants in the past twenty years including a significance and preservation needs assessment of the Nobelius Collection, documenting the company that at one time was the largest fruit and ornamental tree exporter in the southern hemisphere.

Last year they secured funding to digitise 23 Nobelius Ledgers and Catalogues from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with longer-term plans to add the digitised material to Trove. Museum staff are excited that this valuable research material on Australia’s horticulture, environment and business history will reach new audiences.

Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club

Four lifesavers running through ankle deep water with a dog running alongside.
Members of the Bondi Surf Bathers’ Life Saving Club in training with a surf reel, 1939. Image courtesy of the BSBLSC. 

Formed in 1907, the Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club is the world’s first surf club. As well as providing essential lifesaving services at Bondi Beach, the Club has been at the forefront of developing lifesaving techniques and equipment. In recent years, members have been working their way through a rich collection of photographs, newsletters, swimming apparel, objects, flags and pennants.

In 2021 they secured a CHG grant for a significance assessment. A significance assessment, which is prepared by an experienced historian, archivist or museum consultant, helps explain the meaning and historical value of a collection and provides guidance for its management and how it is used in displays. The final report confirmed the collection provides valuable insights into the history of the club as the birthplace of surf lifesaving and its vital contribution to the local Bondi community.

Melbourne Royal

A side by side image showcasing both sides of a medallion awarded for ploughing. One side of the image has text about the award and the other side depicts a scene with three farm animals
Port Phillip Farmers Society Medallion awarded for Ploughing, 1859.  Image courtesy of Melbourne Royal. 

Melbourne Royal, formerly known as the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria, has been preserving and celebrating the cultural heritage of agricultural societies, shows, and rural life in Victoria for over 175 years. It has a diverse collection of artworks and posters, photographs, catalogues, media scrapbooks, ephemera, oral histories, and of course show awards including perpetual trophies, medallions, and prize cards.

Melbourne Royal has received three CHG grants. This includes a significance assessment of the collection in 2017, followed by a preservation needs assessment in 2018.

Maruku Arts (Anangu Uwankaraku Punu Aboriginal Corporation based at Mutitjulu, NT) 

An intricately carved Walka Board
Walka Board Minyma Kutjara copyright Francine Kulitja 2020 

Maruku (meaning ‘belonging to black’) Arts is a not-for-profit arts and craft corporation owned and operated by the Ngaanyatjara, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people from the Western and Central Deserts. The Maruku Arts Collection is highly significant, containing some of Australia’s most diverse and high-quality carving objects.

These combined projects resulted in an increased commitment from staff and volunteers, developed in-house skills and improved knowledge of the collection and standard handling protocols and procedures. It also highlighted the areas of strength for the collection, identified some gaps, and provided a clearer view of its international significance.

Australian Red Cross (Heritage Archives)

Two ladies in nurses uniforms standing either side of an old car that is covered in Red Cross logos and images.
Mrs Fisher and Mrs Vaughan with a Red Cross float entered into the ‘Back to Brim’ parade, Easter 1983.  Image courtesy of the Australian Red Cross Society (Heritage Archives). 

Australian Red Cross was established at the outbreak of the First World War and by 1945 was the largest charitable organisation in the country. During that time, it has tirelessly delivered a wide range of community services, playing a pivotal role in Australia’s history.

The Heritage Archives were established in the 1990s to care for their diverse historical collection. This includes over 700 films dating from 1948 to the early 21st century. The films include short educational features, training, live event footage and fundraising promotions. Unfortunately, The Heritage Archives no longer have the equipment to view many of the films and are concerned that others require urgent conservation treatment.

The Heritage Archives secured funds for a significance assessment in 2023, and a museum consultant has been recruited to work with staff to view the collection and prepare the report. This is an exciting and very timely project as the Australian Red Cross celebrates its 110th anniversary.

The CHG program is funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the ArtsNational Library of Australia; the National Archives of Australia; the National Film and Sound Archive and the National Museum of Australia.

We’re excited to support more organisations in preserving and maintaining their heritage collections.