Director-General Marie-Louise Ayres said the National Library was proud to accept the book, Message to Australia, into the national collection last Friday 16 December 2017.
She said it was an honour to receive the book, in which individuals who shared their stories with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse chose also to share those stories and their hopes for a safer future for children with the wider Australian community.
Dr Ayres said accepting the book also had deep personal resonance for her.
“A very dear friend shared his story with the Commission in a face to face interview,” she said. “He could not speak highly enough about the experience, of being truly heard, and about the healing this enabled.
“His message is in this book. I have told him that we will keep it safe.”
Dr Ayres said she was very aware of the trust that abuse survivors had placed in the Library to keep all their stories safe.
“The Library has already received—either in physical or digital form—Commission reports, case studies, consultation papers, pamphlets, posters, booklets and kits. The Commission's website and published research have been archived, ensuring that this online record of the Commission's work is also kept safe.’’
In 2018, the Library will conduct oral history interviews with some of those associated with the Commission. It will also receive a collection of precious items handed over by survivors during interviews with the Commission. These drawings, letters, diaries, poems, autobiographies, maps, newspaper clippings and objects are the most personal, the most intimate of records—of pain, fear, grief, rage, despair, hopelessness, and of also hope, love and survival.
“Together, this collection means that all Australians, now and in the future, will be able to hear directly from those most affected by these most grievous of offences against children, to know the truth of their stories, and to know that the nation listened to every one of these messages.
“The National Library is also the custodian of oral histories, book, pamphlets and personal items documenting the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families whose lives were torn apart through separation of children from their parents, and the lives of former child migrants and children raised in institutional settings—children who suffered greatly while the Australia of the day looked the other way.
“We take our responsibilities as custodians very seriously. Our promise to you—as it was to those harmed children—is to ensure that the nation cannot forget.”
Message to Australia will be available in the Library’s Special Collections Reading Room on the First Floor.
It will be retained permanently in the Library’s collection, with a copy to also go to each state and territory library, to ensure that these personal stories are never forgotten.
More information about Message to Australia is available at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse website.