Celebration and Survival

Mechanics' Institutes Australia 2018

16-18 November 2018



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Celebration and Survival: Mechanics' Institutes Australia 2018


The joint purpose of MIA 2018 will be to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Mechanics’ Institutes of Victoria Inc. and the staging of a National Conference of like groups.


The Conference will cover subjects on history, success, maintenance, utilisation and ideas and will explore a way forward for Mechanics’ Institutes and their ilk.


It will also commemorate the Centenary of Anzac, for most Institute Halls hold World War I related Honour Boards, plaques, photos or other memorabilia.


The Conference itself will provide and consolidate a State and national focus in the context of international research largely by way of the Mechanics’ Universities.


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The organisers are pleased to invite Papers for the Mechanics’ Institutes Australia 2018 Conference at Ballarat, Victoria, 16-18 November 2018.


The theme is Celebration and Survival and we welcome Papers in these ranging areas.


This year Celebrates: the 20th Anniversary of the Mechanics’ Institutes of Victoria; and the centenary of the Armistice of World War I, an event which was celebrated in many Institute Halls, a great number of which hold Honour Rolls. It also celebrates the great International Mechanics’ Institute Movement which was largely spawned from the foundation of the Edinburgh School of Arts in 1821 and the resultant legacy of the thousands of Institutes that still exist around the world in their various forms.


And for Survival, we would welcome ways and means—past, present and future—of how Institutes have Survived, and will continue to Survive into the future. (It is noted that the whole of the Saturday afternoon will be made over to a joint session on the Maintenance, Management, Marketing and Survival of Institutes with a range of specialist presenters.)

We would also welcome Papers on events, organisations, people and/or activities that generally took place in Institutes or notable legal cases connected with them.


Mechanics’ Institutes Australia 2018 is being sponsored by the Mechanics’ Institutes of Victoria Inc. and is being supported by the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts Inc., Government of Victoria, Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute Inc., The Melbourne Athenaeum Incorporated and J. Furphy & Sons.


The Conference will be held at Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute, 117-119 Sturt Street, Ballarat over three days 16-18 November 2018. Papers will be presented at one of three parallel sessions and will be printed prior to the event. (19 November is a tour of Melbourne Institutes.)


Proposals for Papers, including title and an abstract of no more than 200 words, with a biographical note and portrait should be emailed to Bron Lowden: mia2018@mivic.org.au who is coordinating the production of the Proceedings.


The Closing Date for Abstracts is 30 June 2018 and these will be acknowledged as accepted. The final Paper must be submitted by 30 September 2018 in electronic format to the above address or MIA 2018 Conference Secretariat, 29 Lisbeth Avenue, Donvale, V 3111, Australia. This will enable presentation of your Paper at MIA 2018.


Please direct inquires to: Jim Lowden (mia2018@mivic.org.au)


It is understood that by submitting a paper, it will be compiled in a Conference Proceedings to be produced prior to the conference. Copyright of individual papers will remain with the author(s); copyright of the Conference Proceedings collection will be the Mechanics’ Institutes of Victoria Inc.



0800 - Registration

0900 - Welcome

Opening Keynote, Siân Williams, Swansea University, Wales; 'South Wales Miners’ Library: Saving the Memory'

1030 - 1530- Papers

1545 - Bus Tour

Visit to State Library Store at Mt Helen; Buninyong Mechanics’ Institute

1900 - Miners Rest Hall - Barbecue

2130 - Return to Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute with various Hotel drop-offs



0730 - Registration

0800 - Building Tour

0900 - Papers

1100 - Keynote, Michele Frey; 'Halls of New Zealand'

1200 - Lunch

1300 - 1700  Mechanics’ Institutes - Survival Workshop.

Sessions include: Charitable Status; Crown Land Halls; Grant-writing; Hall Maintenance and Management; Insurance; Shire-Wide Hall Assistance Program; Institute Activity and Event success stories - Case Studies.

1900 - Dinner: Celebration and Commemoration



0800 - Registration/Building Tour

0900 - Papers

1100 - Keynote

1200 - Lunch

1300 - 1600  Papers

1630 - Panel

1700 - Close


additional conference events


0830 - Bus departs from Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute

Visits to Melbourne Atheneaum Library; Footscray Mechanics’ Institute; Brunswick Mechanics’ Institute; Dancehouse – Carlton; Prahran Mechanics’ Institute. Those joining the tour in Melbourne will need to be at the Melbourne Athenaeum, 188 Collins St, at 9.45am. Bus returns to Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute following tour of Prahran.



Sponsored by State Library Users’ Organisation Council

Moss Theatre, Prahran Mechanics’ Institute, 39 St Edmonds Rd, 7.30pm

Conference Keynote Speakers will deliver alternative papers.



Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney, NSW

Conference Keynote Speakers will deliver alternative papers.



Michele Frey

Michele Frey is an experienced community development consulting professional based in New Zealand. She is also the Co-Author of ‘On a Saturday Night - Community Halls of Small Town New Zealand’, her third publication made possible through her passion and commitment to really understand and capture the essence of these places. Through her work she could see that these places in some contexts are alive and kicking, incredible parts of society. In others they are on the cusp of being replaced with something far ‘flashier', or simply demolished. So what makes them go one way or the other? Based on this research, Michele will share her view on the key mechanisms for their long term prosperity.


Siân Williams

Siân Williams is Head of Research Collections at Swansea University, and manages the South Wales Miners' Library and the Richard Burton Archives.  She has led or contributed to numerous successful externally funded bids, including digitisation projects and community based exhibitions, collaborating with community organisations and museum, library and archive professionals.   In 2013 she co-authored, with Hywel Francis, 'Do Miners Read Dickens?  Origins and Progress of the South Wales Miners' Library 1973-2013', which was published by Parthian.


Siân is co-chair of the Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum Archives & Special Collections Group; a Trustee of the Paul Robeson Wales Trust; and Secretary of Llafur: the Welsh People's History Society.



Whole Conference -


Member Full Rate............................................$275.00

Early Bird – Until 1 September 2018...............$225.00


Whole Conference - Non-Member

Non-Member Full Rate...................................$325.00

Early Bird – Until 1 September 2018..............$275.00


Whole Conference - Non-Member

Non-Member Senior.......................................$275.00


Single Day

Friday OR Saturday OR Sunday..................... $125.00


Saturday Program Only

Institute Delegate ...........................................$30.00

(including Survival Workshop, lunch, one set of notes;

price per person, max 2 people per Institute at this rate)


Optional Activities

Saturday Night Dinner.....................................$70.00

Monday Post-Conference Bus Tour ................$60.00


Additional (non registrants) attendance

Friday Afternoon Bus Tour .............................$20.00

Friday Night Barbecue .....................................$25.00




- Attendance Friday, Saturday and Sunday for all keynotes, papers, panels and workshops


- Friday Bus Tour and Barbecue at Miners Rest Hall


Thank you to our supporters



Jim Lowden

29 Lisbeth Ave, Donvale VIC 3111


Ph: (03) 9873 7202


Email: mia2018@mivic.org.au






Reg No. A0038156G      ABN 60 337 355 989

(c) 1998-2018, Mechanics Institutes of Victoria Inc. All rights reserved.