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What’s in this research guide?
Protest and dissent have been a part of Australia’s history since the arrival of the First Fleet. They have shaped many important social and cultural changes within this nation and continue to do so to this day. As a collector of all things important to Australia’s social, cultural, and political history the National Library of Australia has amassed several collections relating to protest and dissent in Australia.
In this research guide you will find tips for researching topics using our collections, information about collection materials and suggestions for other reliable resources. On this page you will find a few tips and hints to help you search our catalogue and Trove.
It is important to note that the number of protests that have occurred on Australian soil is too vast for this guide to cover all of them. The highlights in this guide represent a sample, focusing on movements that the Library has a large amount of supportive material on. If you wish to find out more about a protest that is not listed here, we suggest following up with us through Ask a Librarian.
Tips for searching the catalogue for Protest and Dissent materials
- Start simple and choose a few distinctive words. Use words that relate to the event you are researching (for example, searching for Ballarat 1854 will bring up results for the Eureka Stockade as this was where it took place). Ensure all words are spelt correctly, otherwise no results will appear.
- Narrow your results after your first initial word search, using the options on the right side (format, E-resources, author, subject area, series, decade, etc.). Some of the best results come from a simple word search with one option applied to narrow results (for example, searching for the Vietnam War with the pictures options to narrow results).
- When you find a result that you like, look at the subject headings in the record and use them to find other materials on the same topic. They might be general, such as Protest movements -- Australia. , or very specific, such as Eureaka Stockade, Ballarat, Vic., 1854. or Black lives matter movement -- Australian Capital Territory -- Canberra -- Photographs.
If you are searching more broadly on the topic, it can be useful to start by using subject headings such as Protest movements -- Australia, Social movements -- Australia or Social change -- Australia.
Tips for searching Trove for Protest and Dissent materials
- You can use the Categories tab in Trove search to identify specific types of protest material. Archived newspapers are always useful, but you might want to look further afield to Images, Maps & Artefacts for visual records of protest. The Web Archive is an excellent place to find online records, news and websites for contemporary movements and protest, such as Schools Strike for Climate or the George Floyd protests. Historical snapshots of websites such as UN Youth Australia or Amnesty International Australia can show you point-in-time information, from the David Hicks national day of protest to approaches voicing dissent during COVID-19 lockdowns. Where available, there are archived websites from as early as 1996.
- Trove is a discovery service for both the Library’s collection materials and those which belong to other libraries, galleries, archives and museums. As such, it can lead you to historical collections held by other institutions. Many of Australia’s university libraries and archives have online material or records of their physical collections, which often include records of student politics and campus protests. The Melbourne University Archive is one example which includes records and links to resources from the Malcolm Fraser collection. This collections includes materials relating to protesting the Vietnam war, censorship protests, French nuclear testing in the Pacific and much more.
- When searching contemporary journal articles, news sources and archived websites for information about protest movements, slogans and hashtags can be an effective way to identify material. For example, the phrase "Convoy of No Confidence" was frequently used to describe the 2011 Anti-Carbon Tax Rally, and more recently ‘March4Justice’ for the gender equality rallies, or #WewillALLbethere for the 2021 anti-vaccine rallies in Australia.