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Museum offers narrative of peace, not war

A long-time peace activist and Victoria University peace researcher has helped establish Australia’s first peace museum.

VU Emeritus Professor in VU’s College of Arts Michael Hamel-Green said the online Australian Living Peace Museum (ALPM) is a repository for the important and inspiring stories of Australian individuals, groups and organisations committed to peace and non-violent social change.

The museum covers not only historical events but ongoing ‘living’ peace action and research, through images, videos and documents linked to more detailed sources of information.

Professor Hamel-Green said Australia’s peace efforts have often not been fully appreciated. They range from World War One anti-conscription movements to more recent peace-keeping missions in Timor Leste.

Many of these activities have been eclipsed by an over-emphasis and glorification of war, he said.

Professor Hamel-Green, who was imprisoned in the 1960s for protesting against the Vietnam War and refusing to be conscripted, is the ALPM Curatorial Committee’s convenor and a member of its Board.

“Most of us are aware of the museums or icons of war found in almost every major park or public space in Australia, yet there are no museums of peace,” he said.

Having access to peace narratives may inspire Australians from primary school age upward to enhance their awareness about living and sharing peace, he said.

Australia’s contributions to peace include:

  • its role in helping create the United Nations in 1945 and develop the UN Declaration of Human Rights;
  • anti-conscription movements in World War One and their role in successful referenda in 1916 and 1917 to prevent conscription in Australia;
  • anti-nuclear testing movements from the 1960s to the 1980s, which helped stop French nuclear testing in the Pacific and spearheaded negotiations for the South Pacific Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone;
  • movements that ended Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War and conscription for it;
  • its role in international campaigns such as the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Medical Association for the Prevention of War, Indigenous groups, and peace research centres.

    Dr Michael Hamel-Green is available for interview on 0408 594 569.

Visit the Australian Living Peace Museum at livingpeacemuseum.org.au

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