President’s Report

Annual General Meeting 21st March 2023 (Re-scheduled from 14th February 2023)

As we begin the New Year I hope for a less challenging period as we continue a more normal life.

We have now returned to the normal opening hours, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, after restrictions all through 2022 and before. We encourage any members who would like to help out with the Duty Roster on these days; we will welcome you and are happy to have a second person on to learn the ropes until confident and familiar with the role. Please give this some thought.

Unfortunately, our computer disruption during the mid to latter part of 2022, meant quite a delay in our projects, and a decrease in attendance by volunteers, but we can see our way clear now this has been solved, and look forward to continuing with enthusiasm. The money from the Federal Government grant has been spent, with quite a bit of equipment to be attached to computers, ie the arms to attach extra screens, which will be finalized soon, and add more order to our work spaces.

Training Sessions: the training sessions during last year – CAD, Scan Pro and Duty role and Research proved popular, and were extended to the Historical Society members. We have plans for similar to continue this year, the first being a Word Workshop on 28th February. Several members attended IT training sessions via webinars, which has helped spread this knowledge through the group.

Excursions: We enjoyed two excursions last year, to Castlemaine for a wedding dress exhibition, and in September to Ballarat – the Eureka Centre – Ballarat Genealogical Society and PROV site, also the beautiful Ballarat Mechanics Institute. All agreed when we returned – “we should do this more often”, so hopefully we will be able to do something similar this year.

Joint Meeings: There were two meetings with the Historical Society during the year, which I think has assisted with the general communication and management of the two groups, and facilitated merging of some of our resources and activities.

Family connections: We have enjoyed several successful family projects recently – the Lyons family from interstate; the Holien Family reunion; the preserving of the Salmon Family Tree scroll, so capably housed in a wooden case executed by Harry Dobber and his friends at the local Wood turners group. Transcribing Fiona East’s family correspondence, the Russells, from the 1890s was a challenge for several members, and a boon to Fiona, as she collates the history of the Russell family property – Barunah Plains.

The most recent of these projects was the Holden family photo – which I am sure many of you will have read about in the Colac Herald and online. An old family photo was bought by one of our members at a local garage sale, labelled only – Holden Family and a Geelong photographer. “The thrill of the hunt” urged some members, and within a very short time they had not only discovered who all the family members were, the date and occasion, but also contacted a descendant of this family living in Victoria! During the holidays, we had the pleasure of gathering the ‘finders and keepers’ together at the centre to hand over this precious heirloom, the family were truly thrilled. What a wonderful outcome and display of team effort and enthusiasm. Thank you, and well done to all involved.

Research inquiries: There were 75 research initial inquiries of which 38 proceeded, were completed and paid for

Membership: Currently there are 114 financial members with more renewals expected and 24 honorary and life members. Total 138

Data entry: We are approaching 350,000 entries in the data base thanks to our team of dedicated active volunteers, as well as several thousand entries from early rate-books

Almost Forgotten Project: The team working on identifying “Almost Forgotten” the pre 1900 burials in the Colac Cemetery have now researched almost 1000 burials

Duty Called Project: Information and photographs of many local people who have served in the armed forces and nursing corps in wartime and in peace have been added to the collection during the past year.

Volunteer hours:  
On-site since 1/02/2022: 3627 hours
Off-site since 1/02/2022 thousands of extra hours have been contributed in research, data entry, preparing newsletters, balancing the finances, preparing for meetings etc.

Changes to emails: Jill Judd is now the research Officer and has assumed the email address and Robyn Currie has now taken the new library email as her contact. These changes will now appear on our website.

In closing, I wish to acknowledge the outgoing office bearers and committee members for their diligence and commitment over the years, and extend a warm welcome to the incoming team.

Thank you to you all for your input and hard work during the past twelve months, I wish you all a happy, fulfilling and interesting year ahead.

Diana McGarvie,