OHAA National Conference – Australian War Memorial interviews

Recording from the frontline:  the Australian War Memorial’s experience of interviewing current serving Defence force members

1.30 pm 21 September 2013.

Stephanie Boyle
Australian War Memorial

Stephanie did 500 hours of interviews in the field in Afghanistan and Iraq.  She spent four weeks in Afghanistan.  She was very well prepared but was challenging.  She did 50 interviews and had a template for the interviews which included aspects of life on the base, impact on family life, how do they feel about being there. 

Parts of interviews on Australian War Memorial YouTube channel – Collecting in Action http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJi-GHfQCx0.  Some interviewees did not understand the purpose of oral history.  She had to put them at their ease.  One soldier, Ziggy Mortars (pseudonym) has song on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q30TXlqiBTY  It was hard for them to wind down when retuning to Australia.  They did not sleep well for a long time and did not know how to answer the question “what was it like?”  It was all about survival.  It was a good learning opportunity for the interviewer and may be used to test the ANZAC mythology.  Perhaps interview them again in 10 years time.  All interviews have to be secured by Defence for about 20 years. 
Suzanne Mulligan