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Training review final7

  1. 1. A review and analysis of training needsfor the collections sector in Western Australia: a report for Museums Australia (WA) Brian Shepherd
  2. 2. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The consultant thanks all who have contributed to the consultative phase of this project. They include members of the reference group, participants in the various focus groups and individuals, all of whom arelisted in appendix four. Perth Central Institute of Technology assisted with the formatting and analysis of the questionnaire. Particular thanks are due to Professor Ian Reid who acted as mentor throughout the project and whose assistance with editing the report was invaluable. COPYRIGHT Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part of the information in this report may be stored in a retrieval system, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the permission of Museums Australia and the consultant.This review was made possible through funding from the Department of Culture and the Arts and Lotterywest
  3. 3. A review and analysis of training needsfor the collections sector in Western Australia: a report for Museums Australia (WA) Brian Shepherd September 2012
  4. 4. Table of contents01 Executive summary and recommendations 0802 Introduction: Collections and context 1303 Review Methodology 1704 Museums and standards 1905 Present training provision in Western Australia 22 5.1 Training for volunteer and non-specialist staff 22 5.1.1 Development Services at the Western Australian Museum 22 5.1.2 Museums Australia (WA) 22 5.1.3 Edith Cowan University’s Museum Studies Course 23 5.1.4 Art on the Move 24 5.1.5 Guiding and front of house training 24 5.1.6 Publications and initiatives for the sector at national level 25 5.1.7 Community Arts Network WA 25 5.2 Training/education for professional careers in the sector 2606 Mentoring 2807 Assessing demand in the light of previous participation 29 7.1 Museum Studies at ECU 29 7.2 Introductory Courses conducted by RICH and the WA Museum 30 7.3 RICH at Curtin University 30 7.4 Regional training needs 3108 Issues of social responsibility and ethics 3209 Training needs identified through focus groups 33 9.1 Indigenous 33 9.2 Conservators 34 9.3 Paid curators in small museums 35 9.4 Volunteers 36 9.5 Visual Arts 37` 9.6 WA Museum staff 38
  5. 5. 10 Training Questionnaire survey 40 10.1 Responses from volunteers 40 10.2 Responses from paid staff 41 10.3 Training priorities 4311 Mapping the VET training package against the ECU museum studies course: possibilities and alternatives 4612 The role of the WA Museum 4913 Consultation with the VET sector 5114 Modes of delivery 5215 Some observations on training offered elsewhere 53 15.1 VET delivery 53 15.2 Training in small museums and galleries 55 15.3 University courses 5816 Conclusion 61Appendix One - Bibliography 62Appendix Two - Some evidence of the extent of the growth ofpaid professional staff in Western Australian Museums since 1993 63Appendix Three - A training issues paper presented to the National Conference ofMuseums Australia September 2011 64Appendix Four - People consulted during the Review 72Appendix Five - Questionnaire 74
  6. 6. PA G E 6
  7. 7. Key TermsConsistent with the brief for this review, the term collections sector refers to museums (including galleries)that are operated in the public interest and satisfy the criteria laid down in the ICOM and Museums Australiadefinitions of a museum. It does not extend to libraries and archives except where such are aspects of amuseum’s collection.Training has been interpreted broadly to embrace learning about museums as well as acquiring skills forcollections management and other aspects of museum practice. However, the emphasis is on purposefulformal programs designed to prepare participants for work in the collections sector or to enhanceperformance of existing workers.Abbreviations:AGWA Art Gallery of Western AustraliaAICCM Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural MaterialCSTC Collections Sector Training CommitteeCIT Central Institute of TechnologyCurtin Curtin University of TechnologyDCA Department for Culture and the ArtsECU Edith Cowan UniversityIBSA Industry Business Solutions AustraliaMA Museums Australia Inc.MAWA Museums Australia, Western Australian BranchMAGQ Museums and Galleries Services QueenslandRICH Research Institute for Cultural HeritageRTO Registered Training OrganisationUWA University of Western AustraliaVET Vocational Education and TrainingWAM Western Australian Museum PA G E 7
  8. 8. 01 Executive Summary and recommendationsThis review answers to a brief supplied by Museums Australia (WA). It has been commissioned against abackground of declining opportunities for training people for work in the collections sector in WesternAustralia. The review is timely given growth and evolving professionalism of museums in Western Australiaand the announcement of a new state museum highlighting the need for well trained staff able to provide aquality service that engages the community.The recent and impending closure of major avenues of training in Western Australia makes it timely todraw attention to the importance of the sector and its need for appropriate training. The review encouragesinnovative thinking so as to embrace new and creative approaches while at the same time frames the studyin the parameters of the brief, bearing in mind the practical circumstances that have led to its commissioningand the current social, economic and political climate.Key findings arising from the review1 Collections are held in the public domain for their ability to engage society through interpretationand research. They are an ongoing resource that is drawn on for wide range of social, aesthetic, scientific andeducational purposes to enhance the culture of the state. While skills needed for their storage, managementand preservation are important, it is the use to which they can be put to enrich society that justifies theirexistence. Training for the collections sector at all levels should embrace both practical and philosophicalfoundations of museum practice.2 Presently there is insufficient planning for the provision of training. A suite of offerings that haddeveloped and served it reasonably well over the past twenty years is coming to an end. Offerings had evolvedin a somewhat ad hoc manner, without clear planning or policy at a state-wide level. Interested parties nowneed to work together to establish a more formal framework for addressing training needs at all levels and forall segments of the sector.3 It has become obvious in recent years that those museums able to employ a paid and well-trainedcurator are generally those operating at increasingly professional levels and which are likely to provesustainable in the long term. A fully professional museum service will not result from training initiativesthat are centred on volunteers. Suitable and available education and training for people seeking careers inthe sector are therefore of the highest priority. This should comprise both academic education and practicaltraining. It is of serious concern that previous provision is no longer available in Western Australia.4 Notwithstanding the importance of paid professional staff, volunteers are presently and shouldalways be a highly significant component of museums’ staff. Their training is a necessary part of developingthe state’s many museums and should be addressed in that context. Development services available in otherstates provide models for making our museums more sustainable through targeted training as an integralpart of a development strategy for the sector. Project-based training that leads to real outcomes and engagesvoluntary staff appears to be successful.5 The geographic size of Western Australia and its sparse population in many areas provide challenges forthe provision of training. Prior experience both in this state and elsewhere in service delivery, especially throughregional hubs, can be useful to examine when planning for the future taking these factors into account.PA G E 8
  9. 9. 6 The collections sector remains somewhat divided despite the amalgamation of a number of smallerassociations to form Museums Australia Inc. some 17 years ago. There is a tendency for the interests ofcommunity historical museums to dominate at the expense of other kinds such as art galleries, while somegroups, such as conservators, represented by the AICCM, have remained outside the major body. It isunfortunate that presently only a small number of employed professionals at WAM and AGWA belong toMuseums Australia. This dilutes the strength of the sector for advocacy. There is a need for the sector tospeak with one voice while recognising its diverse composition.7 It is difficult to envisage that all current small museums can be viable in the long term at a levelsufficient to satisfy standards such as those laid down in National Standards for Australian museums andgalleries.1 Opportunities for, and expenditure of resources on training are keys to developing sustainable andsuccessful museums where they are targeted effectively. Support based on institutional performance andindividual commitment and credentials ensures that resources are spent wisely.8 There has been a considerable growth of career opportunities for professionals in the sector outsidethe major state institutions. This is creating a need for recognised qualifications. However, as the numberof paid positions is outnumbered by those of volunteers, care must be taken to ensure a balance betweencatering for their needs and those of the industry as a whole, where voluntary staffing will predominate in theforeseeable future.9 Lack of provision for more advanced training and education for the sector in Western Australianuniversities is of serious concern. Although students can take courses at eastern states universities either inperson or through distance learning and online provision, the lack of local offerings gives the impression thatthe sector does not warrant provision. The growth of professional museums and Western Australia’s uniquefeatures deserve to be taken into account in planning tertiary provision.10 There is interest from the Central Institute of Technology in introducing the recently revised VETtraining package CUL50111 to replace the former ECU museum studies course. This would provide anationally recognised qualification for the collections sector in Western Australia. The sector has yet todevelop a full understanding of the training package, its levels and requirements.11 Resource issues, particularly funding, will be central to whatever training initiatives are taken.Although subsidy has been a possibility to offset student fees for VET training provision, in the near futurediploma courses will become full fee paying. In the universities, economic pressures and limited enrolmentshave caused closures and the situation is not likely to change in the short term. Neither MAWA nor WAMhave sufficient resources to make up for the shortfall that currently exists.12 Enhanced professional development opportunities are needed for professional staff in the sector.Presently the demands of their positions, the lack of institutional budgets for the purpose, WesternAustralia’s isolation, and the costs involved in seeking such development outside the state all contribute to adearth of such opportunities. The need is heightened by the announcement of a new state museum which willcall on staff to demonstrate the best of current practice.13 There remains a lack of Indigenous participation in training, insufficient representation of Indigenousworkers in the sector, and a lack of training for people working in the small museums in how to work with,and include, Indigenous people and culture in collections and interpretation. Skilled Indigenous leaders areneeded who can work effectively with their communities and with small museums.1. ACT Museums and Galleries, Arts Tasmania et al, 2008. National Standards for Australian Museums and Galleries. Version 1.0. PA G E 9
  10. 10. 14 Indigenous needs for cultural participation and expression are not being met sufficiently at local levels, particularly in regional and remote areas. Strengthening culture throughstory-telling and intangible heritage expression is equally as important for Aboriginal communities asthe collection, care and display of material culture. Broad-based community cultural programs can buildcapacity, identity and pride. Suitably trained leaders who work with and in communities are required forthis. Assistance with the care and management of artefacts or collections is not a first priority, but will beappreciated when the need arises through such programs. This approach is preferable to providing collectionmanagement and interpretation training before the need has been felt. Training for leaders could includeformal course work, but might better be delivered through internship and mentoring.15 If suitably resourced, the Western Australian Museum is well placed to take a major role inproviding training for the sector. In part this is because it employs a significant number of leading industryprofessionals, many of whom have had extensive experience in presenting various forms of training,especially in the ECU museum studies course. Equally important is the experience in training that theExecutive Director brings to his position, which includes offering training for the British MuseumsAssociation’s Diploma through the museum where he was previously Director. Further, there is a longhistory of support by the WA Museum for the wider museum community, support currently continuingthrough the Development Services unit.16 There are enhanced modes of training delivery possible using moderntechnology, especially where distance has made it difficult in the past. Although face- to- face and practicaldelivery is preferred to online training or distance learning by all but tertiary students, a blend of thesemodes with some face-to-face delivery may be necessary to provide service over such a large area as WesternAustralia.17 There are opportunities for cooperation with other service providers to make sharing of training, especially distance or online delivery, more easily and cost-effectively available. Althoughfinancial, copyright and intellectual property issues would need to be negotiated, materials produced alreadyby Central Institutes of Technology in Canberra, Wagga and Coffs Harbour could greatly expedite theintroduction of the VET training package in WA. Similarly, brokered arrangements between universitiescould allow online course work to be shared across state borders, supplemented locally by access tocollections, research into them, and supervision.18 There is a need to create awareness of the value of the collections sector and itscontribution to cultural life among the bodies making decisions about them. This is particularly so with localgovernments where decisions about museum budgets, exhibitions and employment are sometimes made bypeople with little knowledge of what is involved in running a museum and what museums can and do deliveras social dividends.P A G E 10
  11. 11. Recommendations1 That the collections sector redouble its efforts to publicise the ways in which museums and galleriescontribute to the enriching of cultural life in its widest sense. It should advocate to ensure that the roleof collections are factored into a wide range of agencies such as government departments, regionaldevelopment commissions, local government, heritage bodies and community organisations. The emphasisshould be on the ways in which collections contribute to community life.2 That MAWA establish a Collections Sector Training Committee (CSTC) representative of allmajor interested parties including the Department of Culture and the Arts, Future Now, the Departmentof Training and Workforce Development, state collecting institutions and existing and potential trainingproviders to consider this training review and work towards implementing those of its recommendations onwhich agreement can be found.3 That the CSTC recognise that there is a crisis in training provision and develop an agenda for addressing the following needs:• A broad introductory course to museum/gallery work for people wishing to gain comprehensive basic skills for working in the sector. Although this should be a pre-vocational course, it should supplement and not replace academic qualifications in a relevant discipline.• Basic skilling of the volunteer staff who continue to comprise a significant component of the work force in the sector. This may be best delivered regionally.• Opportunities for academic undergraduate, postgraduate and higher degree studies, often including a considerable internship and/or research component involving collections. These are particularly needed for people seeking careers in the sector and to ensure its continued development.• Professional development opportunities for existing collections sector career staff.• Mentoring/internship programs to provide training in specialist and practical areas of work and which result, where possible, in formal recognition as a qualification.• Strategies for greater involvement of Indigenous people in the management of and participation in their cultural heritage, including collections.4 That, recognising the changing nature of the small museum sector and furthering the developmentof a state-wide professional museum service, the CSTC, and MAWA advocate for establishing andimplementing criteria and benchmarks for recognising institutional standards, professional training andregulating employment in the sector, including levels of remuneration and career advancement. In pursuitof these goals it may be useful to consider the introduction of a system for the accreditation of museums.5 That, in the interest of developing a sustainable museum service throughout the state, training ofvolunteers should focus on lifting standards in museums as its first priority. Targeted training should beprovided in response to requests, established need and where it is likely to be of lasting benefit. Wherepossible it should be project-based and lead to demonstrable outcomes. In this way voluntary staff trainingwill be part of a strategy to develop standards in the state’s museums Accreditation of individuals, though itcould be possible, should not be a major focus of this form of training. P A G E 11
  12. 12. 6 That the delivery of training as suggested in the previous recommendation be delivered regionallywhere possible. Prior experience in the Mid-west, Goldfields and in the eastern states support this modelwhich could be administered centrally but work through regional nodes, possibly the branches of WAMwhere they exist. The CSTC and MA (WA) should lobby for resources and a suitable framework for thedelivery of this training.7 That MAWA and the Western Australian Museum (WAM) work closely with the Central Instituteof Technology and Future Now over the possible introduction of the VET training package CUL50111 atdiploma level, while taking cognisance of the overall recommendations of this report.8 That, should the CIT not introduce the training package, WAM, in conjunction with MAWA and aregistered training organisation, consider the feasibility of offering training similar to that previously offeredby ECU and that it negotiate with CIT as to how both the recognition of prior learning and the Institute’soffering of core units may allow participants who seek a VET diploma qualification to achieve it.9 That the CSTC offer to work with universities in encouraging people who work in, or aspire to work in,the collections sector, to pursue relevant postgraduate coursework or higher degree research qualifications, andto encourage the development of such opportunities by universities both internally and online.10 That on-going professional development should be considered both a right and an obligation for allpaid staff in the collections sector and a framework established through the CSTC for making it availableand mandatory.11 That the CSTC seek funds to facilitate professional development for people working in the collectionssector. Funds should be allocated by this Committee on a basis of need.12 That staff working in the collections sector be encouraged and subsidised by their employers, toattend state and national professional conferences. Participation, especially the presentation of papers,should be recognised as a contribution towards fulfilling professional development requirements of staff.13 That targeted programs for Indigenous people wishing to work in the sector be introduced toovercome disadvantage. Leaders should be trained, possibly through enhanced mentoring programs, toenable them to work in communities to build their capacity to manage and preserve culture, both tangibleand intangible. Financial support for Indigenous training should be sought from the mining industry.14 That, in consultation with the DCA, and through the CSTC, WAM, MAWA, educational institutionsand other related organisations including Art of the Move and Community Arts Network WA, worktowards establishing an agreed framework for training for the sector recognising the responsibility each willtake in its delivery.15 That MAWA, with guidance from the CSTC, lobby for funds to assist in the delivery of trainingprograms at all levels. In addition to seeking to maintain training support from Lotterywest, it shouldinvestigate the feasibility of gaining corporate support for training initiatives.16 That Museums Australia Inc., at national level, move towards establishing criteria for recognising theprofessional qualifications of its members (and hence of training providers). It should establish categories ofmembership reflecting qualifications, experience and performance.P A G E 12
  13. 13. 02 Introduction: Collections in contextThe social purpose and value of the sectorMuseums and galleries are social institutions found in communities almost everywhere. This testifies to adeep human need for cultural expression through collections. From large state-supported institutions to smallcommunity entities and from professionally operated to amateur manifestations, they demonstrate an enduringinterest in understanding the world through repositories of culture, whether tangible or intangible. The extentto which museums impact on the lives of communities depends on a variety of factors, but their ability to besocially relevant is vital to their on-going survival. Where public funding is expended on museums it is vital thatit be spent to achieve socially desirable outcomes and that a framework exists to secure and distribute resourceswhere they will be used wisely. Western Australia’s museum service is a developing one. Not so many years agoit was seen to be strongly dominated by the major state institutions. Over the last couple of decades there hasbeen a blossoming of smaller institutions and a growing professionalism in them, supported by closer attentionfrom the Department for Culture and the Arts, the WA Museum and Museums Australia Inc.Consideration of the roles and purposes of museums in contemporary society is central to all planning for theirfuture. Collections in the public domain are valued for what they reveal about people and their environmentinterpreted for purposes of education and enjoyment. Sound policies and well planned implementation areneeded to enable the collections sector to deliver social dividends commensurate with the investment madein them by all stakeholders. This can only come about within a suitable framework and through the work ofappropriately trained professional staff. Such staff need far more than technical knowledge of how to care andmanage the collections, important though such skills are. They must have the vision, passion and the ability toengage the wider community in enjoyable learning leading to desirable social outcomes.Collections play an important role in a nation’s cultural life and heritage. Museums and galleries are frequently prioritydestinations for tourists to any country or region. Residents in a community may tend to take their local museums andgalleries somewhat for granted, assuming that their collections will always be there. They are most likely to visit whenthere are new exhibitions, especially of the “blockbuster” variety in major institutions. However, it is the permanentcollections that provide the basic rationale for the existence of museums. Their care, interpretation and understandingthrough research lies at the heart of museum endeavours. They require appropriate resources including suitably trainedand experienced staff. While much of the work with collections is not seen by the public, the quality of visitor experienceis shaped by the result of that work. Professional staff use collections for public engagement and research, enablingthem to pay social dividends ranging from break-throughs in scientific research, to exhibitions and other programsthat educate and inspire through intellectual, emotional and aesthetic appeal. It is heartening to read in census reportsthat museums and galleries appear to be as popular as football matches, at least when measured by the sheer number ofvisitors. Fortunately they are spread over long opening hours rather than packed in stadiums!The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates the total number of museums, excluding galleries, at 1,019 ofwhich 768 are social history museums, 425 historic properties and sites while all others account for 83. Interms of attendance, 3.6 million Australians visited museums in 2010 of whom 25% visited three or moremuseums that year. Total admissions numbered 17.8 million while 51.5 million online visits were made. Themost popular were historic buildings and sites, closely followed by museums and galleries. A total of 6,412people nominated museums as their main source of employment. 2.The Department for Culture and the Arts in Western Australia estimated that 88% of all Western Australiansattended cultural events in 2010 of whom 22% attended museums. 3.2. Australian Bureau of Statistics Arts and Culture in Australia: A Statistical Overview 2010. Series 2172.0, and Museums Australia 2007-08. Series8650.0. The estimated number of museums, even allowing for the exclusion of galleries would seem to be conservative, given that Museums Australian.(WA) estimates some 300 in Western Australia.3. Department for Culture and the Arts Fact Sheet 2010 P A G E 13
  14. 14. Why training is neededBecause the collections sector relies on a diversity and depth of skills, the preparation of suitably skilledpeople to work in them is a complex matter. It is not made simpler by the sector’s reliance on a mix ofpaid and unpaid staff, thus muddying matters of accreditation, terms of employment and the evaluation ofperformance. To add to the complexity, institutions range from small, often underfunded, organisations tolarge state institutions in which professional staff members seek long-term employment and a designatedcareer path. Although all these institutions may be linked through the defining characteristic of collections,their variety, purposes and requirements make it challenging to address them as a single entity.Museum work has not generally been recognised as a profession as it lacks some of the commonly acceptedcriteria such as accreditation. However, few would dispute the professional credentials of leading museumdirectors, curators, designers, educators and many other skilled specialists comprising the staff of any modern andsuccessful museum or gallery. Appropriate training is the pathway to right of entry to practise a profession, butthe sheer variety of skill areas in museum work means that there is presently no agreed level of entry qualificationsfor employment as a museum professional. Nevertheless it is widely recognised that people aspiring to work inmuseums of any size or type, whether in a paid or voluntary capacity, need to be encouraged to deepen theirunderstanding and sense of purpose of the sector. In much the same way that teachers benefit from undertakingstudies in education to supplement their discipline of specialisation, people working in museums and galleriesneed to know about the nature of these institutions, from philosophical, historical and practical perspectives. Howdeep such understanding needs to be will depend on career situations and ambitions, but is appropriate for all.Museum work at any level demands practical skills in working with collections and these often need to be acquiredin the wake of specialist academic skills that equip potential museum workers for their particular area of work in amuseum. In the past it was common for museum skills to be learned on the job, there being no specially designedtraining courses. While this was, and still may be, appropriate in large institutions, it is not possible for staff in smallmuseums to learn on the job in the same way, as there is often no experienced mentor available to learn from.Museums usually attract staff members who have passion for their work, whether voluntary or paid.Opportunities in museums for creative initiative, scholarship and public engagement are matched bythe many challenges facing both large and small museums. Without committed and passionate staff,opportunities will not be taken nor challenges met and overcome. Whatever training is offered orundertaken, it should further develop motivation as well as providing practical skills.The announcement of funding for the long overdue new state museum makes this an appropriate time toreconsider training needs of the collections sector as existing and potential staff will have to keep abreastof rapid change if the vision of a state of the art museum is to be fulfilled. There will be an ongoing needfor staff imbued with the vision and mission of the museum to be appropriately trained in whatever skillsare appropriate to particular collections. Such staff may emerge partly through new appointments, butprofessional development opportunities for existing staff are also vital.Other changes, too, underline the timeliness of this review of training provision. Significant demographic changesare affecting the staffing of museums. The next decade will see the retirement of many long-standing members ofstaff in state institutions, particularly in the WA Museum, and they will have to be suitably replaced. To meet theaims of the state museum’s it will be desirable to train staff locally with a focus on the unique qualities of WesternAustralia’s environment and heritage. The volunteer force working in the sector is likewise ageing and is not likely tobe replaced in comparable numbers by younger volunteers. This is likely to result in an increasing number of paidpositions. It is vital that Western Australia has in place suitable training programs that can provide staff who areequipped to address the unique characteristics of the state’s cultural and natural environment. P A G E 14
  15. 15. A time of change and crisisThe last thirty years have seen growth and increasingly high standards in the collections sector in Western Australia,the transformation being most obvious in many of the smaller institutions. This has largely resulted from theavailability of a suite of training / education opportunities. However, recent changes have created a crisis at all levels oftraining. These include the termination of courses at the Research Institute for Cultural Heritage at Curtin Universityand the Master of Curatorial Studies at the University of Western Australia, as well as the impending closure ofthe museum studies course at Edith Cowan University. These changes are occurring at a time when significantdevelopments are lifting the need for professional expertise to higher levels. They include planning a new statemuseum, enhanced employment opportunities in the smaller museum/gallery/heritage scene, especially but not onlyin local government, and a general quickening in community awareness of the significance of collections.At the heart of this report is a search for some achievable training provision in the short and medium term.The major challenge facing the sector is to determine what training is needed in the present circumstances,how it can be delivered, by whom, how resourced and made sustainable.Required training provisionThe process of consultation and analysis described in subsequent sections of this report has confirmed thatthe collections sector in Western Australia requires a suite of training opportunities.These may be summarised as follows:• Accessible, affordable and motivating entry level training for volunteer staff members.• An articulated course of study that equips those undertaking it to perform the major skills neededfor conducting a small museum that meets at least minimum national standards. A popular, accessible andcomprehensive and practical course of this kind has hitherto been provided by the Edith Cowan University(ECU) museum studies course. However, although well regarded, it did not provide a nationally recognisedaccreditation. The extent to which this is crucial to the delivery of such a course needs careful consideration.Although it could be delivered through the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector meetingthe requirements of the Australian Quality Framework as laid down in training packages, many potentialparticipants may not be looking for accreditation and may be discouraged from participating if the structuraldemands are too great. Career-seekers may be well advised to complete such qualifications, but in additionto, and not instead of, sound academic qualifications in a relevant discipline as it is doubtful whether theVET qualification alone will provide entry to career positions. The possible translation and adaptation of theECU course into the VET framework would need to be handled with sensitivity and flexibility to ensure itcontinued to attract enrolments and provide suitable training.• Pre-vocational training and education in museum studies for people aspiring to work at a specialistor advanced level in the sector. Such training should be in addition to, and not instead of, sound academicqualifications in a discipline relevant to the area of museum work to which they aspire. For example, itcould be a postgraduate diploma, degree or higher degree in museum, gallery, cultural or heritage studies.In Western Australia, the former Research Institute for Cultural Heritage at Curtin University provideda suitable academic qualification for the sector. Whether the VET diploma course could serve as the pre-vocational course for these people rather than a university course, is doubtful.• Pathways for upgrading professional qualifications of people working in the sector to Master or PhDlevel. Creative ways need to be found to make this possible within existing structures in universities. Programscould be devised in conjunction with museums and collections either on campus or elsewhere. This pathway isneeded to fill the gaps left by the withdrawal of such opportunity at the Research Institute for Cultural Heritageat Curtin and the suspension of the Master of Curatorial Studies at the University of Western Australia. P A G E 15
  16. 16. • Mentoring programs targeting the particular needs of individuals and the institutional context inwhich they are working or will work. Such programs could be integrated with formal course provisionas assessed academic placements with co-operating museums. Formal recognition of mentoring as aqualification is needed for career advancement. Mentoring is especially needed for the training of leaders towork with Indigenous people and collections.• Opportunities for ongoing professional development for staff already working in the sector. Presently,such opportunities are few in Western Australia and there are obstacles preventing them from participatingin offerings interstate or overseas. With a new state museum now being developed, the need for professionalstaff in the sector is urgent if they are to keep abreast of rapid changes.In addition to the formal programs outlined above, there is an ongoing need for informal training throughconferences, meetings and publications such as professional magazines and newsletters, all of which can bevehicles for developing skills and improving performance of staff.The review attempts to consider these needs in the context of existing and potential service providers. Theseinclude state institutions and state-funded organisations, professional associations, universities, the VETsector and the personnel able and available to assist in meeting needs in various frameworks. P A G E 16
  17. 17. 03 Review methodologyAt the commencement of the review, the consultant familiarised himself with a range of studies that providean historical context for the present review. These are listed in the bibliography.The consultant has been intimately associated with museum training in WA and with museum organisationsfor almost thirty years both at state and national levels. He is a past president of the state branch of MuseumsAustralia and the Council of Australian University Museums and Collections, has served on the NationalCouncil of Museums Australia for many years and is an honorary life member. Following the report of thestate task force for museum policy in 1991, he was largely responsible for commencing the first articulatedtraining program for skilling workers in the many small museums around the state – a series of workshopsthat has continued for 20 years as the ECU Museum Studies Course. It was with this background that he haddeveloped a comprehensive understanding of both the extent and type of training needed at all levels by theindustry and a knowledge of many of the institutions and people involved in both the delivery and receivingof training.At the commencement of the review he set about meeting with a range of key stakeholders to discuss inbroad terms what were perceived as key needs and how they might be met.Following this, and with the assistance of staff of Museums Australia (WA), he established a reference groupof a dozen members representing a range of interests in the sector, to consider what was emerging duringthe project, monitor progress and offer suggestions. In addition, Winthrop Professor Ian Reid kindly agreedto act as a mentor. Individual members of the group also played a part in other aspects of the process,particularly in focus groups, as well as offering informal views and advice throughout the project.An important aspect of the process was the use of a questionnaire. This was constructed in consultationwith staff of Museums Australia (WA) and was formatted with assistance from the Central Instituteof Technology, which also distributed it to recipients and collated responses. The consultant wishes toacknowledge this assistance which greatly facilitated the collection of useful information. The questionnairewas distributed to all individual and organisational members of Museums Australia (WA) who have emailaddresses, to clients of the WA Museum’s Development Service, to members and affiliates of the RoyalWestern Australian Historical Society, to all Heritage and Community Development Officers in localgovernment, to the staff of the Western Australian Museum, clients of Future Now, and current and formerparticipants in the ECU Museum Studies Course. The results of its analysis provide an important ingredientof this report.With assistance from Lydia Edwards, coordinator of the ECU course, records of past enrolments and studentevaluation forms were surveyed as evidence of demand and a measure of student satisfaction. Similarinformation regarding the courses conducted through the Research Institute for Cultural Heritage wassought through Jennifer Harris at Curtin University.More qualitative information from the industry was sampled through focus groups. Separate meetings wereheld to consider the needs of a variety of parties including volunteers, paid museum staff in small museums,paid staff at WAM, conservators, Indigenous interests, and the visual arts. The consultant sought advice asto who would be useful contributors to these focus groups. For example, with regard to Indigenous needs, aprior meeting was held to consider both who should be invited and how the meeting might best proceed. Inall cases some suggested questions and issues for consideration were distributed in advance to focus attention P A G E 17
  18. 18. on relevant matters, though care was taken not to make them a prescriptive agenda as it was consideredimportant to give space for those present to raise any issues they considered important. The consultant issueda brief summary of the meetings’ outcomes and invited further consultation. Although more work is necessary to ensure adequate training provision for this diverse sector, the reviewhas identified possible paths that may prove practical and beneficial to institutions with potential to delivertraining as well as to the prospective recipients. To this end some discussions were held with representativesof existing and potential providers. At both ECU and Curtin, it was made clear that decisions taken to closecourses are irreversible, at least for the foreseeable future. Early attempts from members of the referencecommittee to revisit these decisions served only to underline the decisions taken, the chief reason given beingthat maintaining them had proved economically unsustainable. The most encouraging potential provisionearly in the review process came from the Central Institute of Technology where the Head of Creative Artsheld several meetings with the consultant and representatives from the WA Museum Development Serviceand Future Now to look at the feasibility of implementing the VET training package for museum workers inthe near future. This resulted in engaging a consultant to map the present ECU course against the Library andMuseum Training Package (CUL501 11) at diploma level. The outcomes of these negotiations, the mappingexercise and the experience of Institutes of Technology in the eastern states with the training package arediscussed in some detail later.Although it seems unlikely that any university will fill the gap left by the recent withdrawal of provision byestablishing something on the scale of the former RICH, it has been encouraging to find that some academicshope to meet at least some of the need by working within existing structures to make provision for studentsseeking careers in the broad field of cultural studies to carry out postgraduate and higher degree workinvolving collections.The consultant has taken the opportunity to investigate current provision for training for the sector elsewherein Australia. Whilst it has not been possible to discover in detail what is offered in all institutions, and withwhat measure of success, a range of experiences are reported where they appear to offer ideas that may haverelevance to the local situation.P A G E 18
  19. 19. 04 Museums and standardsOver the last three decades the small museum scene in Western Australia has seen a remarkabletransformation. Although the process of defining, introducing and maintaining acceptable standards is anon-going process and the contrasts that exist between institutions are great, few can fail to appreciate that thesector has made considerable progress. It is useful to attempt to assess what have been the major agents ofdevelopment and what is needed in the future for continued improvement.In the past much effort was given to assisting volunteers to better care for collections and to managemuseums. This was necessary as in the early 1980s there were virtually no museums outside state institutionswhere paid staff were employed. Today, although still reliant to a considerable degree on voluntarycontribution, the majority of museums generally considered being at the forefront of the profession arethose with suitably trained paid staff. Such training requires substantial investment of time and resourcesboth from providers and participants. While developing necessary practical skills is crucial to any suchtraining, effective leadership in the industry requires a sense of vocation and an on-going engagement withthe many issues that shape the role of museums in society. As can be appreciated from the examples of paidstaff 4. in the small museum sector appearing in the appendix, those so employed have invested heavily inpre-vocational education which has generally included both substantial academic disciplinary educationand practical skills training. University postgraduate diploma courses provide a sound and recognisedprofessional background, building as they do on degree qualifications in a relevant field. A number of leadingprofessionals in the collections sector have qualified through the RICH at Curtin University, while othershave earned qualifications from recognised courses overseas. The ECU Museum Studies Course, while notestablished to provide an entry qualification for a paid career in the sector has proved a credible backgroundfor employment when added to academic qualifications in areas related to the museums in which they havefound employment.Evidence of the strides being made in museums fortunate enough to have one or more paid positions filled bywell educated and paid staff, make it obvious that the on-going development of a fully professional museumservice, requires provision of suitable courses of study. The collapse of the two principal courses offered inWestern Australia has largely put the clock back thirty years when the only opportunity was to enrol outsidethe state.Several recent initiatives have been assisting museums to develop criteria for professional recognition.However, this is an evolving process and it is not clear how, in the short term, the industry will be ableto regulate practice in collecting institutions (e.g. in relation to employment of staff) with the precisionthat applies in most professions. Perhaps the professional area that has most in common with museumwork is that of library and information services. However, because of its diversity and heavy reliance onvoluntary contribution, the museum sector has some way to go before it approaches parity with libraries instandardising professional employment and practice. Although leadership in transforming museums comesmainly from people with a strong educational background and who are often in paid positions, the sectorcontinues to be heavily reliant on the contribution of volunteers. In large institutions they support the workof paid staff, while in smaller museums there may be no paid staff and so volunteers have responsibility forthe entire operation. Anecdotal evidence suggests that volunteers are becoming more difficult to attract andthat those giving service are less willing to contribute regularly and substantially to levels common in thepast. One may have thought that retiring baby-boomers would provide an increasing pool of such people,but this as yet does not seem to be evident. Reasons suggested in consultation have ranged from the Global4. Some examples of current paid positions and examples of museums that are achieving high standards are included as an appendix. P A G E 19
  20. 20. Economic Crisis causing delayed retirement to more individualistic lifestyles where volunteering is notembraced by as large a proportion of the community. Whatever the reason, if the continuing trend reducesthe pool of available volunteers, then many museums will feel the effect. It suggests that the trend towardspaid employment may increase. However one way of combating the trend is to ensure that popular, effectiveand accessible training is available.In the past, volunteers working in institutions with employed staff often received mentoring instructionfrom experienced staff members and became skilled in the aspect of work in which they were involved. Thissituation appears to have changed considerably. Consultation during this project revealed that many staffmembers are too busy to be able to invest the time necessary to train voluntary staff. Increasingly, volunteersare being taken on only if they have already undertaken some training in the area of work in which they wishto volunteer. A convincing point, made by a member of the WAM staff who currently lectures in three ofthe ECU museum course modules, was that it takes the equivalent time of a two day course module to traina volunteer to be able to document collection items to a satisfactory standard. It was therefore a much betterinvestment of time to present to a class than to train on a one-to-one basis.Training provision is most obviously thought of in relation to individuals who will undertake it. However itshould be framed by the needs of the institutions in which people will work. The remarkable growth in thenumber of museums in recent decades has resulted in WA having some 300, which seek to meet acceptedcriteria for recognition as museums as laid down in commonly accepted definitions. Ensuring sufficientsupport for aspiring museums has long been a concern within the industry. While there should be no barrierspreventing the emergence of new museums, it is difficult to see how such a large number can all be staffed,financed and operate at appropriately professional levels. More seriously, where public money is requiredfor their support, some criteria need to be adopted to determine its allocation. This was recognised as earlyas the 1960s when the Western Australian Museum established the Recognition Program, an early form ofaccreditation which, unfortunately, proved difficult to maintain.More recently, the establishment of National Standards for Australian Museums and Galleries, the twoSignificance publications and grant funding made available through the National Library of Australia tofacilitate significance assessments and preservation surveys, have gone some way to bringing a focus on theneed for established professional standards and practice. Similarly the use of grant schemes, most notably thosesponsored by Lotterywest and administered by MAWA have considerably lifted standards, not only throughthe grants awarded but also by requiring evidence of appropriate planning, policies and procedures before aninstitution can be eligible for assistance. Administration of the grant scheme by the professional associationhas also meant that there is a growing shared understanding as to what constitutes professional practice. Inshort, there has been a significant shift towards professional status within the museums community. This shift isdirectly related to the training needs and standards of the emerging profession.Museum accreditation programs now operate in varying ways in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria andSouth Australia. Western Australia has been wary of introducing such a scheme since the demise of WAM’sRecognition Program of the 1970s, on grounds that it was too intensive to administer. Training individuals wasseen to be a more manageable way of lifting standards. Because times have changed, and in view of other states’experience, it may be timely to reconsider the possible advantages of an accreditation scheme.P A G E 20
  21. 21. The evolution of museum training in this state is outlined in the consultant’s paper delivered at the 2011national MA Conference which is included as an appendix to this report. It demonstrates how, largelythrough self-help within the museums fraternity, occasional (generally one day) workshops and assistancefrom travelling curators (when such were available) became translated into an articulated course that hasbeen the ECU museum studies course aimed particularly at fostering sound museum practice in smallmuseums. The emergence of the Research Institute for Cultural Heritage at Curtin University was the singlemost transforming initiative for the sector, while other developments such as the continuing work of Arton the Move met specific needs for the visual arts sector. The McShane Report in 2001 drew attention to thepotential of the VET training package as a means of delivering nationally accredited training – a potentialthat as yet has not eventuated in WA.5. However, extensive revision of this package in 2011 and its integrationwith the Library and Information Services package makes it timely to consider carefully whether this is thebest future pathway to the delivery of training. Although the proportion of those seeking training who wishfor accreditation is estimated to be relatively small, formal recognition is nevertheless vital for those seekingemployment in some museums, especially those operated by local government, and is a further step indefining and lifting standards. However, for those seeking a substantial career in the sector, particularly instate institutions, it is important to recognise that the VET qualification needs to be supplemented by strongacademic qualifications.What has been outlined above has strong relevance to the future delivery of training. The cultural life ofthe state will be enriched by the development of museums of quality and variety spread geographicallythrough the state. While small and relatively amateur museums may continue in large numbers, the majorconcern should be to assist the emergence and further growth of those museums that will be sustainableand well patronised over time. These will be the museums where emerging professionals may expect to findemployment and where they will be needed. The strategy adopted for providing training will have a directinfluence on the future shape of the museum service throughout the state.5.McShane, Ian, 2001. Training for the Museum Profession in Western Australia: a Report to Museums Australia (Western Australia). P A G E 21
  22. 22. 05 Existing provisionThe current situation is best understood through some knowledge of how it has evolved and what forceshave moulded, and continue to mould it. As already mentioned, this is outlined in some detail in the 2011conference paper, but is briefly referred to here.Because of the nature of the industry, the demarcation between voluntary and paid staff is blurred. Whilecareer specialists may bring strong academic backgrounds to their museum careers, they often need much thesame introduction to aspects of museum practice as voluntary staff.5.1 Training provision for volunteer and non-specialist museum staff5.1.1 The WA Museum’s Development Services unitThis unit has inherited a long tradition at the WA Museum of providing training to the small museum sector.For over forty years this has included visits to museums and conducting short courses or workshops. Asignificant recent initiative has been to map individual components of an introductory orientation course formuseum volunteers against the VET training package at Certificate 3 level so that participants can be assessedagainst a nationally recognised standard. During the period in which this consultancy was carried out, theservice was undergoing change and review including the addition of a third member of staff. This reflectsthe WAM’s commitment to servicing the wider museum community throughout the state. Future servicedelivery will be the subject of on-going consideration and will in part be influenced by the outcome of thisreview. Because WAM is currently not a recognised training organisation (RTO), it may be desirable to workwith such a body in order to be able to accredit training modules. A suitable body could be the CommunityArts Network Western Australia (CANWA). As the role of the Development Services unit extends beyondtraining, it is obvious that without greater resources it could only partially assist in meeting the training needsof voluntary staff working in the sector throughout the state.5.1.2 Museums Australia Inc. (WA)As the Western Australian Branch of the major professional body for the sector, MAWA has a long historyof providing training reaching well back to the period before amalgamation of the several smaller previousassociations. Several of these had been involved in training and professional development for their membersprior to the amalgamation – through conferences, workshops, professional projects, chapter meetings, publiclectures, and occasionally taking training workshops to the regions.In recent years MAWA has focussed more on providing what have been termed master classes for members(non-members can also attend at a higher cost). These have attempted to address emerging developments inthe sector and have engaged local, interstate and sometimes overseas talent as presenters. The Associationis to be applauded for these initiatives; they contributed to the Association winning a Heritage CouncilAward in 2010. The Association has shown remarkable resilience and an ability to develop and carry througha business plan allowing a relatively modest operating grant to stretch to additional staff and a range ofinitiatives of which training has been only one. That master classes have been well subscribed, despite a fairlysubstantial cost to participants, demonstrates the need and hunger for such training. However, althoughvolunteers have been able to participate in these classes, they have mostly attracted participants who alreadyhave considerable museum experience. Calling them master classes makes clear that they are not forbeginners.P A G E 22
  23. 23. During the review process the consultant was made acutely aware that, beneficial as these courses are to thesector, there is insufficient opportunity for professional development for staff working at an advanced level.All too often those people are called on to present part of a master class themselves which, while beneficialto many attendees, does not really provide for their own needs. This is no criticism of what MAWA hasbeen offering, but simply points to the limitation of what they are currently able to provide. The need forprofessional development training is addressed further later in the report.“The structure of MAWA has further assisted initiatives in training. Consisting of chapters spreadgeographically around the state, the chapter organisation provides the vehicle for regular meetings thepurpose of which, apart from the development of a spirit of friendship and mutual support, is to focus oncurrent training matters of concern to the group. These sessions are frequently presented by a qualified andexperienced practitioner, generally someone prepared to travel and devote his or her time for the benefit ofthe sector.Other initiatives of Museums Australia• ConferencesBoth at the national and state levels, conferences provide a significant vehicle for professional development.They are well attended and structured to allow for consideration of significant issues confronting the industryas a whole and provide opportunities for attendees to focus on areas of particular interest and to participatein some training workshop sessions.• PublicationsSignificant training and professional development is embedded in what have increasingly become morecomprehensive and informative publications. Musing, the Branch publication has now grown beyond a merenewsletter to be a magazine in its own right with some substantial articles relating to professional practice aswell as being a vehicle for keeping in touch with local happenings and networking opportunities. The same istrue of the national publication Museums Australia Magazine, though the scale of this publication has beensomewhat reduced from its earlier form as Museum National.Occasional publications, sometimes produced in conjunction with other organisations, have also providedavenues for training. Sharing our Stories, produced in conjunction with the National Trust of Australia(WA), provides guidance for interpretation in museums and heritage places – a focus that has becomeincreasingly important to the work of many small (and sometimes not so small) museums. At the nationallevel, policy documents for use in museums have also been a vehicle for training of staff. These includepolicies for working with Indigenous people and representing their culture and a gay and lesbian policy.5.1.3 The ECU Museum Studies CourseFor 20 years this has been a major vehicle for providing professional skilling to the small museum sector.Begun in the wake of a state task force in 1990 which identified that such an initiative was needed, it hasproved its popularity and worth by averaging annual enrolments of circa 60 students for parts of the courseand some 15 annually who fulfilled the requirements for course completion. This course, a unique offeringin the Australian training scene, has much strength, but some perceived weaknesses, the latter bringingabout its demise at the end of 2012. Amongst its strengths are accessibility (low cost and available as a seriesof weekend workshops), the quality of presenters (all are recognised professional in the areas in which theydeliver training), and flexibility. The latter allows for participation by volunteers, practising professionals,undergraduates and postgraduates. University students have been able to enrol at undergraduate level withmuseum studies as either a major or minor area of study, or as a postgraduate Certificate. Those enrolled P A G E 23
  24. 24. for academic credit have had to satisfy university entrance requirements and have participated in a seminarstream and a more rigorous assessment regime than those enrolling for the workshops leading simply toa certificate of completion. As the course has been conducted on a fee for service basis, participants couldenrol for individual units or take the whole course and gain a certificate of completion providing they meetassessment requirements. Assessment was more akin to university assessment requirements than to the VETcompetency mode, though it is debatable whether this was a shortcoming as all participants had hands onexperience throughout the course and assessment was thorough in the areas students selected (three out often topics) thus recognising that most students have particular areas of interest.As the course was created originally to provide training for the small, mostly local history, museum sector, ithas not served the visual arts sector well, though in recent years it has attracted more participants from thatsegment and has attempted to cater somewhat better for their needs.A major concern is that for those not enrolling as university students (the vast majority), there has been noaccreditation apart from the exemplary reputation the course has enjoyed within the local industry. Theextent to which accreditation is a matter of serious concern is taken up later in this report.5.1.4 Art on the MovePresently, this organisation has approximately 55 modules aimed at training and supporting the presentationof touring exhibitions in Western Australia. The modules have been commissioned by Art on the Move overthe past decade. They have been written by industry leaders to address particular activities and skills requiredto handle and present such exhibitions. Modules have been moderated to suit Art on the Move’s professionaldevelopment program. They allow for a range of presenters to be engaged although all must be qualified andexperienced in the particular module. Modules are presented to individuals and groups, usually over one ortwo days, using the local venue’s facilities and equipment. Often two presenters work simultaneously withdifferent groups/individuals. The intention is not to provide training to everyone. The training is aimedat providing the most direct and informative method for staff, volunteers and the venue management. Forexample, only the people involved in installing exhibitions will be trained in this activity. Gallery lighting orcondition reporting is also targeted in this way.Art on the Move training assists in building skills in local venues. It also assists with the professionalpresentation of touring exhibitions and reduces the risk of damage. Five communities receive subsidisedtraining each with support from the DCA annual funding to Art on the Move. Other training is provided ona cost recovery basis. A Professional Development Officer currently works two days a week.There are very few venues across WA suitable for presenting regular touring exhibitions. Art on the Moveexhibitions are often displayed in museums and art galleries.The design and fabrication of a recent initiative, the “modular gallery”, was achieved without governmentfunding. It was designed and fabricated at the Art on the Move’s Malaga workshop. It aims to introducecommunities to a simpler, far more contemporary exhibition venue. It is planned to trial the modular galleryand the touring/education program at two communities before evaluation and assessment.5.1.5 Guiding and front of house trainingFor many years the AGWA has conducted highly successful training for voluntary guides which involvesparticipants in rigorous training over a two-year period and requires on-going commitment for theinvestment made by the institution in providing the training.P A G E 24
  25. 25. Presently, training initiatives are being developed at WA Museum where consultation with staff responsiblefor recruiting and training volunteer staff to assist with educational visits, public programs and audiencebuilding and management reveal this as an important aspect of the Museum’s work, particularly with regardto its image and popular standing with the community. Responsibility for this lies with two employed officerswho are hard pressed to provide adequate training as their other duties are onerous. The same officersexpressed the strong opinion that all staff employed in the Museum need to see themselves as ambassadorsfor the institution and that a staff orientation or induction program was needed to develop a strong espritde corps and an awareness of each member’s place and contribution to the well-being of the whole museum.They lamented the present lack of in-house training at all levels.In Western Australia the major focus of museum training has been on collections management andinterpretation, with some attention being given to public programs, but very little concerned with strategiesfor public engagement. The great need that had existed in amateur museums to skill workers to care for andmanage collections explains this emphasis, as does the very rudimentary way in which many small museumspresented their collections as displays, rather than as interpretation. While it could be argued that artsmanagement rather than museum studies training is the proper arena for developing skills relating to publicengagement, it is nevertheless vital that all members of a museum’s staff see themselves as ambassadors for theirinstitution and therefore require some training in how to carry out this role. Training in bringing museums tothe public, and bringing the public to the museum, is a necessary part of training for the collections sector.5.1.6 Publications and initiatives from the sector at national levelIt is important here to also acknowledge the ways in which other initiatives taken at a national level assistin skilling the workforce of the sector. The former Collections Council of Australia revised an earlierpublication to issue Significance 2, providing guidance for museums in the assessment of the significanceof their collections, either as whole collections or of individual items or groups of items within them.Subsequent funding opportunities provided by the National Library of Australia has enabled many museumsto employ a consultant to work with the their staff on an assessment of their collection This process hasproved a valuable training initiative for the staff involved in assisting the consultant. A similar process forcarrying out preservation assessments is likewise providing valuable on-the-ground training for the (oftenvoluntary) staff in small museums.Another significant innovation with relevance to training has been the publication of National Standards forAustralian Museums and Galleries. These standards are largely expressed in performance terms and enablethe monitoring of current practices to ensure that they meet professional expectations. All these initiativeshave provided the basis for training workshops conducted by the professional association.5.1.7 Community Arts Network WAAlthough not directly involved with collections, this organisation is included for its potential it to extend theeffective cultural work it carries out with communities to include collections, especially in community museumsand galleries. As a RTO, CANWA has the ability to be a suitable body through which other agencies such asWAM or MAWA could work to deliver accredited training. Presently CANWA is in discussion with WAM toauspice the delivery of CU30111 Certificate 111 in Information and Cultural Studies. CANWA has extensiveexperience in community cultural mapping and programs fostering community engagement. The organisationcurrently provides skills development for local government delivering two units of competency from theLocal Government Training Package (LGACOM502B Devise and conduct community consultations andLGAGOVA606B Develop and maintain a community cultural plan). P A G E 25
  26. 26. As mentioned elsewhere in this report, there is a need for local government to be more aware of therole of the collections sector, and this program is an example of how working with CANWA can assistin integrating the collections sector into community programs and making it more obviously relevant.CANWA produces community and cultural products as core business and can point to a range of recent initiatives giving voice to communities that are often too silent. These include two recent partnerships withWAM where dolls from Yarns of the Heart were displayed, and a collection of oral histories together with ashort visual piece were produced to accompany an exhibition about British child migration, On their Own.5.2 Training/education provision for professional careers in the sectorThrough the 1990s and early 2000s Curtin University played a major role in preparing students for careers inthe sector through its Research Institute for Cultural Heritage headed by Professor David Dolan. The benefitof this Institute continues to be felt throughout the sector and many of its graduates have moved on to makesubstantial careers, often working with collections. The demise of such an excellent research and teachingcentre is a great loss. Increasing economic and other pressures faced by universities need to be kept firmly inmind when considering future training and education for the sector.As mentioned earlier, the ECU course made it possible for museum studies to form part of undergraduatecourses in the humanities or it could be taken as a graduate certificate. While this provision alone has notbeen a sufficient pre-service career qualification, when combined with appropriate disciplinary studies,participants have been able to acquire knowledge and skills in significant aspects of museum practice. Thispathway too will close at the end of 2012.There remains the option to undertake museum studies or cultural heritage at a university outside the state. Infocus groups conducted during the review, those who had taken such courses expressed the strong opinion thatthey provide a highly suitable qualification for a career in the sector. As indicated earlier, evidence of this is seenin the number of people employed in the sector in Western Australia who have undertaken such studies. As thisoption is now available from some institutions in distance or online mode, it is a practical pathway for gaininga suitable qualification. However, to advocate for this pathway is to regress to the only one available before thedevelopment of courses in Western Australia. Online study makes practical work difficult, offers no or limitedopportunity for professional interaction, and is expensive. Further, reliance on courses taken elsewhere providesnothing that can be specifically tailored to the requirements of Western Australia which has many uniquecharacteristics that need to be addressed in a program aimed at a local market.There is a tendency to refer to training needs as though they are much the same for all types of collectionsand collecting institutions. While there may be many common aspects, it is doubtful whether, at anyadvanced level, any course can be effectively structured to meet all aspects of what is needed for diversecollecting institutions without including a range of specialist options. In Western Australia, separatepostgraduate offerings in visual arts curatorship such as the Masters in Curatorial Studies at UWA haverecognised this but have not thrived, probably because the potential field of students is small. Curatorial andresearch work in natural history are highly specialised areas for which more generic training on collectionsprovides little of benefit. Maritime archaeology, a strong Department in the WA Museum with a long andactive tradition of mentoring and sharing work on collections with students and colleagues throughout theworld, is another segment of the sector where, apart from the most basic tools of collections management,training with regard to collections has proved to be more effective through mentoring than through anylocal training program. The postgraduate diploma in Maritime Archaeology, pioneered in Western Australiain the 1970s proved too expensive and resource hungry to remain viable despite the quality of staff and theimportance of Western Australia as a centre for maritime archaeology.P A G E 26
  27. 27. Consideration of what the staff of specialist museums and collections require should not, however, blind usto the need for generic training to meet the needs of the numerous small, mostly local or historical museumsthat share many common characteristics. They all want to manage their collections effectively and use themfor research, interpretation, exhibition and other contributions to their communities or institutions. If whathas been mooted regarding the need for fostering broader understandings about museum culture is accepted,then it would seem that something of this should be included, at a suitable level, in any such generic course. P A G E 27
  28. 28. 06 MentoringMentoring currently plays a significant role in training, though it applies to only a small number of traineesin Western Australia. Its value was testified to in focus groups and through the reported success of mentoringand internship programs elsewhere - for example, through programs at the Powerhouse Museum and theRiverina Regional Museum. The Department of Culture and the Arts Emerging Curator program has laidthe foundation for career opportunities, especially for Indigenous recipients, by providing opportunitiesfor working in the state art gallery, on travelling exhibitions such as the Canning Stock Route exhibitionand in communities. At the Western Australian Museum the recent internships provided for East Timoresevisiting curators were seen to be highly effective, though draining on staff already heavily committed in otherduties. At the University of Western Australia the Berndt Museum of Anthropology has a long traditionof mentoring Indigenous people for working to strengthen communities and care for material culture. TheMaritime Archaeology Department at Fremantle has a strong record of internship training that could wellprovide a pattern for other departments to emulate, though its capacity to attract funds through contractwork, thus providing staff capacity for mentoring, may prove more difficult for other departments.Where there have been opportunities for tertiary students or employed staff in small museums to workin a temporary capacity in major institutions or on major projects, this has been seen by those able totake advantage of such opportunities to have been effective professional development leading to theacquisition of valuable new skills and experience. Such opportunities have arisen, for example, when theWA Museum’s collections were being relocated to Welshpool or when the needs of a new exhibition havecalled for additional staff on a temporary basis. Valuable though such experiences might be as training, theirrecognition as a qualification for further career advancement is not assured.As with other training needs, Western Australia’s collections sector needs a more thoroughly thought-outand implemented framework for providing mentoring and internship opportunities. These are neededat various levels, of varying lengths, in various places and with varying degrees of recognition. They mayrange, for example, from opportunities for people from small and remote museums to be able to spend a fewhours with an experienced professional when they visit a city with a major museum, to a highly structuredpracticum or research placement for a student working towards a tertiary degree. As reported elsewhere inthis report, at the Powerhouse Museum a Regional Outreach Program co-ordinator has the arrangement ofinternships as a major responsibility. For many years, professional staff of museums in Western Australiahave given of their time and expertise to assist their colleagues in small, often amateur, museums. Muchof this has been incidental to their main employed responsibilities and has neither been recognised noraccounted for. The establishment of a formalised structure or framework for this type of training would be anexcellent project for the proposed Collections Sector Training Committee, which could take inspiration frominternship and mentoring arrangements in the eastern states.P A G E 28
  29. 29. 07 Assessing demand in the light of previous participationPast take-up of training opportunities is one indicator of need but must be reviewed in the context ofchanging circumstances and future projections.Currently there are an estimated 300 plus museums operating in Western Australia, the bulk of which aresmall community museums. Of these, only a small proportion has any paid staff. While it is far from clearwhat the profile of the state’s museums will be in the longer term future, current trends indicate that somewill prosper while others may either decline or continue to operate at what the profession would regardas below acceptable standards. In common with many community organisations, many museums areincreasingly finding it difficult to maintain volunteer staff at a level to make their operation sustainable,especially against the demands of established national standards. In contrast, museums operated bylocal government (several were previously historical society museums) are emerging as professional andsustainable operations. Trained staff members are essential for both the above types of institutions, but it isdoubtful whether the same training will meet the requirements of each. The issue is further complicated bythe tendency to think of museums as distinct from galleries. The latter, though sharing many characteristics,have needs that will not, and in the past have not, been met by a “one size fits all” training program. Evenif one considers museums as distinct from galleries, their varieties are such that there is still a considerablerange of specific training requirements within them. Further, the working environment in large institutions isvastly different from that in small ones, the former making possible departmental structures where specialistskills are required, while in small institutions a more versatile training is needed to equip those in charge toperform a wide range of skills within a management framework.Increasingly, paid positions in the small museum sector are being taken up by people with substantialeducational qualifications, and competition for them is strong. This has led to an increasing demand foraccredited training. As the majority of new paid positions are in local government as museum curators and/or heritage officers, or in organisations where managers have little background in museum work, it is notsurprising that a formal recognised qualification will give an applicant an advantage over even an experiencedapplicant who has received effective, but not recognised, training. This makes it desirable in WesternAustralia to provide a nationally recognised form of training for career-seekers. The Vocational Educationand Training package CUL50111 fills this need and as such is seen by some as the best way to proceed inproviding training for the sector as a whole. However a number of factors need to be carefully consideredbefore a decision id made on this path and they are discussed later.7.1 Museum Studies at ECUThe ECU museum studies course was designed with the small museum sector in mind and arose from theneed identified in the Stannage Report (1992).6. Because it arose before the amalgamation of the formerMuseums Association of Australia with the Art Museums Association of Australia, and was designed out ofthe Museum of Childhood (a museum of social history) and with assistance from staff of the WA Museum,it was not focussed on training for the visual arts sector. Indeed, the course had a very modest beginning andaspiration – its staff thought there might be sufficient interest to run a series of workshops every second year,and that such a program would be a more efficient way of providing assistance to small museums than one-to-one help on specific matters.6. Department for the Arts, Western Australian Government, 1992. Into the Twenty-first Century, Report of the State Task Force for Museums Policy inWestern Australia. P A G E 29
  30. 30. Demand for the course exceeded all expectations with the result that it has operated now for over twentyyears. During the present review the t has attempted to discover full details of enrolments as evidence ofdemand. This has proved difficult as not all records from the time when it was managed by the Museum ofChildhood survived the closure of that institution. However what is obvious is that there has been a healthydemand for its offerings and one that shows no sign of abating. There has been an average of 60 participantsin the course over the years with an average of 15 graduates each year. The large number of participantsreflects the flexibility possible in the course allowing interested participants to take individual modules inareas of particular interest to them (often in the area in which they work as volunteers), as well as the abilityto complete the course over several years. Surprisingly, a substantial number of those participating camefrom backgrounds other than working in small museums. These included librarians, archivists, teachers, staffof the WA Museum, graduates of related disciplines (some with PhD qualifications) and people doing thecourse simply out of interest. The modest cost of the course combined with its format as a series of weekendworkshops made it attractive and accessible to a wider client group than enrolment in formal undergraduatestudies. Many participants also had full time employment during the week. Feedback from evaluation formscollected throughout the course indicate that the quality of presenters and the opportunities to establishnetworks amongst the group members and with practising professionals made the course popular as did thepractical sessions made possible by the weekend format.All these aspects need to be taken into account when considering future demand for training. The ECUcourse format may well be due for substantial change, and the decision of ECU to close it will force this, butin considering the future, the factors accounting for its long popularity will need, where possible, to be builtinto whatever new format emerges.7.2 Introductory courses conducted by RICH and the WA MuseumSeveral short (four day) courses introducing mainly previously untrained participants to the fundamentalsof collections management and preventative conservation were held from the mid-1990s and aimed to skillvoluntary staff in small museums. The courses were an initiative of the Museums Assistance Program at WAMuseum in conjunction with the RICH at Curtin. These courses were always fully subscribed, offered at avery modest fee (often paid for by the attendee’s institution) and popular. In contrast to the ECU workshops,these courses provide a broad-brush introduction to the whole field and some participants were thenmotivated to undertake the more rigorous ECU course.7.3 The Research Institute for Cultural Heritage at Curtin UniversityThe establishment of this Institute at Curtin University in 1995 was a bold initiative seen to embrace a wideremit both in teaching and research across disciplines. Few in the sector can doubt that during its lifetime itmade a great contribution to the cultural life of the state and produced graduates with a broad understandingof the cultural sector that had previously not been matched by other institutions or courses. Courses taughtcomprised the Bachelor of Applied Cultural Heritage (a total of 204 students enrolled over the period ofRICH’s existence), Graduate Diploma in Applied Cultural Heritage (202 enrolments), and two strands ofMasters of Applied Cultural Heritage (48), but its worth cannot be measured merely by courses and numbersits students. The RICH brought overdue attention to bear on the way the state’s heritage was undervaluedand what needed to be done. During what in retrospect seems only a brief period, the RICH, particularlyin the person of its Head, Professor David Dolan, made a significant change in the public perception of thevalue of cultural heritage. Indeed it could be argued that in this way RICH played a “training” role for thewider community.However, in the more restricted framework of demonstrated demand for courses, the sheer number ofenrolments at the Institute did not stack up against the more mainstream courses preparing studentsfor careers in teaching, law, engineering and the like. The gradual scaling down of the Institute reflects theP A G E 30
  31. 31. permeating influence of economic rationalism on university decision-making in the contemporary world. Ifsuch a wide-ranging initiative in the field with such excellent leadership and capable staff could not maintaineconomic viability, it is highly unlikely that another similar initiative could be successful in the present climate.Stating this most boldly, one can say that the demand was not sufficient to sustain it. However, a lasting legacyis that a Master of Arts can be taken by research and supervised by a member of the former RICH staff who alsobrings heritage studies to bear on other courses such as architecture, planning and landscaping.7.4 Regional training needsIn section 15 some examples of regional training in other states are outlined for comparative considerationwhen addressing regional needs of the collections sector in Western Australia. However, there is a strongtradition of meeting regional training needs in this state. The travelling curator program, first introduced inthe early 1980s with funds from Instant Lottery and administered by the Museums Association (WA) wasa service later taken over by WAM in expanded form. It provided much needed assistance with collectionsmanagement, exhibition and conservation. Over the years the service has operated with varying staff levels,under different names and with changing emphases. This work has been supplemented by training initiativesof professional associations, most significantly MA (WA) through its regional chapters.In 2000, the Victoria Community Museums Pilot Project, a study in the Midwest, based at the GeraldtonBranch of WAM and involving the museums and collections in the Midwest chapter of MAWA, trialledthe delivery of museum skills and advice regionally. A parallel project was also implemented in the Riverinadistrict of New South Wales based on the regional museum in Wagga. These initiatives have been followedmore recently by a well-designed project, CollectionCare, established through the former CollectionsCouncil of Australia and funded by the Myer Foundation, DCA and City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, to servecollections needs in the Eastern Goldfields. A project manager, Elaine Laubuschagne, was employed for atwo year project which has recently been evaluated by Cathleen Day of Heritage Today. 7. It is not possible,nor desirable, in the context of this report to attempt to summarise the outcomes of the project, but aforthcoming report is expected to not only confirm that its six objectives were absolutely achieved, but that,with some adjustments to cater for local circumstances, the model could form the basis of a more generalisedservice for collecting institutions throughout the state. Objectives included strengthening the sustainability ofcollections, providing professional development and support to collection workers, achieving demonstrablepractical outcomes, documenting achievements, and contributing to cultural tourism. An enthusiasticarray of testimonials from participating individuals and organisations is convincing evidence of the benefitsof delivering services in this manner. They relate to raising the profiles of collections, their workers andachievements within participating communities and the sponsoring organisations, developing usefulnetworks within the region and professional contacts beyond it to enable on-going valuing and development.It is obvious that the professional knowledge, personal qualities, enthusiasm and flexibility of the coordinatorwere important factors in the success of the pilot project. In adapting the model for more general applicationit will be essential to take the requirement for these qualities into account when appointing any futurecoordinators.It is not always easy to determine the nature and extent of “need” simply from requests for service or evenfrom survey questionnaires. Although there is today a much greater awareness of what is involved in makingand caring for a collection, its management, interpretation and promotion, this is by no means as universallyunderstood as one might wish. Need is at least partly identified when experienced professionals visit orotherwise become more closely acquainted with less professionally managed collections. Regional advice,provided for example through the pilot programs mentioned here, is a significant means of identifying whatare priority needs and ways of addressing them.7. A comprehensive evaluation report is being compiled for the Department for Culture and the Arts. P A G E 31
  32. 32. 08 Issues of social responsibility and ethicsAlthough a strong case can be made for the need for adequate training for the sector, it will remainimportant to keep a watchful eye on future employment prospects in the sector and the sustainability ofcourse offerings. In recent years there has been a growth in paid (and hence career) positions in the sector,positions that have largely been taken up by graduates of RICH or others with suitable academic credentials.Although the ECU museum studies course may have assisted a range of people to secure employment andproved very useful in skilling them for necessary tasks, it was not designed to provide a sufficient basis for amajor career in the sector. What it did do was to considerably assist in skilling workers (often voluntary) tolift the standard of performance of many small museums and their staff. In looking to the future, despite theVET sector being able to provide a nationally recognised qualification for the museum sector, it is doubtfulwhether it can provide participants with more assurance of employment than the ECU course has donebecause of the limited opportunities likely to be available in the foreseeable future. The problem is not somuch that there will be no jobs as that it might be difficult to find one that has a salary attached! There willbe strong competition for positions available, especially from applicants with strong academic qualificationsas well as museum training. This suggests that it should be made clear to all who aspire to work in the sector,just what set of qualifications will probably give them the best opportunity. They should not be encouragedto think that a museum studies course alone will be sufficient. Whatever alternative training may replacethe ECU course, it will be desirable to attract into it participants who can undertake segments that developskills in specific aspects of interest and use to them in (often volunteering) positions. Of those who willenrol to take a full course, few are likely to be volunteers. A flexible arrangement of course delivery allowingenrolment for segments as well as a whole course facilitates access for many volunteers from small museumswho need to develop skills for particular areas of work, and helps to ensure viable class sizes, and hence,financial viability. Although the VET museum training package is a shared one with Library training, paidemployment opportunities are fewer because the institutional frameworks of the two industries are verydifferent. It would seem to be a long time before every community employs paid staff for its local museum asit does for its library.P A G E 32