Close up of two microphones on short stands on a coffee table. Behind them, the legs and torso of a speaker can be seen sitting on a couch.

The COVID-19 virus was first identified in December 2019 with the first Australian case recorded 20 January 2020. The pandemic’s effects in Australia and across the globe continue to be profound.

By the end of October 2023, Australia had officially recorded 23,289 deaths and 11,623,332 cases of the virus, with unreported figures thought to be higher still. Lockdown restrictions, social constraints, financial disruptions and resource shortages have changed the way Australians engage with one another and their environments.

The oral history project

The Library is recording interviews with a diverse range of Australians to ensure that stories of the COVID-19 pandemic are captured for present and future generations.

We will record up to 300 interviews, exploring how Australians have responded and continue to respond to this extraordinary health crisis.  

The project will become part of the Library’s oral history collection.

Who we are interviewing

A man and woman sitting on armchairs around a coffee table. On the table are two microphones and the man is wearing headphones

Capturing the diversity of Australian pandemic responses is a challenging task. From healthcare workers on the COVID frontline, to school students who began learning online, to residents of aged care homes, every Australian has an important story to tell.

To capture some of that diversity, we will be interviewing in each state and territory and across urban, regional, rural and remote areas. We’ll be speaking with people of diverse cultural backgrounds, ages, genders and abilities. And we’ll include diverse perspectives on public health issues and policies.

We’ll also be reaching out to community groups, industry representatives, and volunteer organisations, seeking their suggestions on people to speak with and topics to explore.

We’re also creating a record of the policy decisions, debates, and medical advances that shaped Australian COVID-19 experiences. This will be captured by interviewing people who played prominent leadership roles through the pandemic, including political leaders, public health officials, medical researchers, and leaders in sectors including science, the arts, education, and business.

The interviews

All interviews will be conducted by trained and experienced oral historians who are commissioned by the National Library of Australia and will be completed by 30 June 2025.

The Library records whole of life oral history interviews. This means we are not just interested in the ways Australians responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, but also their broader life stories.

The interviews will become part of the Library’s oral history collection, so that future generations will be able to understand the impact and significance of the COVID-19 pandemic as a major global event.

If you would like to get in touch about participating in this project, please contact us at