By Dr Jonathan Richards
Vice President, Professional Historians Association (Queensland)
The 2012 Annual General Meeting on 26 September will be a watershed for the Professional Historians Association (Queensland). The Association has reached a point in its natural development where new roles need to be taken on, and where there will be a partial “changing of the guard.” Geoff Doherty is retiring as our Treasurer, the role being one of the three Executive positions.
In considering the need for a new Treasurer the Management Committee has come to the realization that, if the organisation is going to fulfil its responsibilities as a peak body of professional historians in Queensland, we need to expand the number of positions, both within the Committee and more generally.. The simple truth is that we currently have too few members taking on the workload of day-to-day administration of the Association. An organisation operating in the history and heritage needs to have roles in a number of basic areas. For PHA (Qld) these are:
- President’s and Vice-President’s duties, which include actively networking with other industry partners;
- A Secretary supported in their duties by an editorial team and public relations officer/s;
- Shared financial responsibilities beyond the one meagre Treasurer;
- Members who can help increase the profile of the Association in the public arena;
- An ability to take enquiries from the general community and turn them into opportunities to grow members’ businesses.
Unfortunately, we are too much of a mind in the enjoyment of our scholarship, that we prefer to escape administrative and management duties. Let’s be honest. It takes time away from the archive trip, the drafting of a report, editing a publication, or a meeting with a client.
The choice to ignore these responsibilities, however, will hurt us all in the long-run. If more members take up the challenge of working for the Association, either on the Management Committee, or on special projects and ad-hoc roles among the general membership, our association of professional historians can weather difficulties and constraints of the economy now and into the future. We are not going to have a healthy history profession in Queensland if members don’t step up to the organisational mark.
So, what is it we need?
With the view that all positions are vacated prior to the Annual General Meeting, we need members to step up and nominate for the following roles (along with the other positions):
Within the Executive:
Treasurer: Members with financial skills, please nominate.
Within the Management Committee:
Assistant Treasurer: A non-executive position to share duties with Treasurer.
Public Relations Officer: A non-executive position to support Executive Secretary, Membership Secretary, and E-Bulletin Editor in public communications. A key duty would be anticipating public events where the Association could establish a profile.
Within the General Membership:
If a member doesn’t wish to nominate for a position on the Management Committee (including Executive), and thereby avoid a requirement to attend meetings, then there is the option to help in special projects or ad hoc roles, currently as follows:
Researchers: The PHAQ has commissioned a number of studies to tease out the data that the Association requires to understand the past and future development of the history profession in Queensland. Some of those studies come under the umbrella of the State of the History Profession in Queensland Project, but there are other projects, such as the PHA (Qld) Benchmarking Exercise which enables us to understand the Association in relation to other PHA organisations.
Reporters: There are opportunities for members to attend workshops that would benefit professional historians and provide a detailed report of what has been learnt from the workshop relevant to professional history work. The Association would cover the cost of the member attending the workshop, and might cover some associated transport costs, in return for a report to be published and made available to the membership.
Local Social Hosts: The Association wishes to encourage members to organise social gatherings for members who live in or near a local area.
Professional Development Consultants: Members could volunteer their time to run in-house professional development workshops in an area of their expertise and/or to present the content of workshops where attendance has been sponsored by PHA (Qld).
Business Advisers: When members are having difficulty with part of their business operations, it would be good to have experienced members who can provide guidance. We operate in a competitive marketplace; however, as professionals we support each other mutually to benefit of the profession in the marketplace. We compete better as professionals when all members are doing the best job that they can. If one member suffers in business, in the long-run, we will all suffer.
Part-Time Administrative Assistant: There is an increasing administrative workload that collectively has been taken on-board by the Management Committee. There is a need for a part-time administrative assistant to complete several work hours per month. The role is only currently under consideration and might be a paid position. It would suit a member at the level of graduate historian.
There may be other ways members can participate in the Association. If you have an idea, contact the e-bulletin editor (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you wish to nominate a member (or be nominated) to be on the Executive or Management Committee, use the AGM nomination form which has been sent to members, and you can contact the Secretary for further information (Carmel.Black@brisbane.qld.gov.au). If you prefer to participate in a non-management role, contact the Membership Secretary (email@example.com).The Management Committee has ideas and enthusiasm for raising the profile of historians in Queensland and for serving your needs better; but to do this we need practical support from a greater proportion of the membership. Will you step up to the mark?