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2019-20 Bushfire History Project

The 2019-20 Bushfire History Project is an initiative of the Royal Commission into the National Natural Disaster Arrangements.  It is an opportunity for people to record their personal experience and share photos and videos taken during the 2019-20 bushfires or the ongoing recovery. The material received by the Royal Commission will form part of the official records of the Royal Commission. 

Since the 2019-20 Bushfire History Project launched in May 2020, the Royal Commission has received more than 1800 photos, videos and written accounts from people in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria who were affected by the bushfires.

A selection of these personal contributions will be made available to the National Museum for its collections when the Royal Commission concludes its work later this year. The museum is undertaking a wide ranging collecting project for objects and stories relating to the 2019-20 bushfire season, with objects to be displayed onsite and online in coming years.

While the partnership with the National Museum of Australia will help tell the story of the 2019-20 bushfires for future generations, the full collection of material received through the Royal Commission’s 2019-20 Bushfire History Project will form part of the official records of the Royal Commission held in the National Archives of Australia.

You can continue to contribute personal stories, photos and videos from the 2019-20 bushfires or the ongoing recovery to the Royal Commission until 28 October 2020.

Photograph of a fire in the distance
Photograph of a landscape - 2
Photograph of a fire in the distance

The Commission invites people to contribute videos or photographs taken during the 2019-20 bushfires or the ongoing recovery and/or submit a short video account explaining what you experienced during the bushfires.

Tips for photos and videos

Check that you have permission

Check that you have permission

If a photo or video was not taken by you, get permission to use the photo or video, from the person who took it or their legal guardian.

If you can identify a person in a photo or video, get permission to use the photo or video, from that person or their legal guardian.

If someone else’s house or property is in a photo or video, get permission to use the photo or video, from the owner.

Tips for recording a video account

Tips for recording a video account

Your video should include things like:

  • When you experienced the fire
  • Where you were
  • What happened
  • What you saw and heard
  • What you did
  • How you felt
  • Find a quiet space with plenty of natural light
  • Think about what is in the background
  • Turn your phone or tablet on its side (in landscape mode) and place the device on a stable surface or have someone record it for you
  • Check your audio is recording and be aware of background noise
  • Imagine you’re telling your story to your family or your best friend – think about the details you would share to convey your experience
  • Remember, this is about recording your personal experience – it’s not an opportunity to criticise others.

  • Your video should be no more than 3 minutes

  • When you are finished recording, play the video back to check the quality of video and sound.

Upload photos or videos to the Commission

Upload photos or videos to the Commission

Please follow the instructions below to upload video or photos to the Commission:

  1. Email the Royal Commission to register your interest in contributing video or photographs to the 2019-20 Bushfire History Project.

    Please include:

    • Your full name
    • The date you experienced the bushfire
    • The city, town or locality where you experienced the bushfire
    • A brief description of the material you would like to contribute.
  2. Once you have registered, you will receive an email from the Commission with a guide on how to upload your contribution to the history project along with a release form.
  1. Download your video or photographs to a USB drive or gather your photographic prints
  2. Complete this online form.
  3. Label the USB drive with your full name
  4. Mail the USB drive and/or photographs along with the completed form to:
    • Royal Commission Bushfire History Project
      Locked Bag 2000
      Manuka
      ACT 2603