This is the publication repository for the Rights in Records by Design ARC project. For more information, please contact Joanne Evans.
Evans, J., Wilson, J. Z., McKemmish, S., Lewis, A., McGinniss, D., Rolan, G., & Altham, S. (2021). Transformative justice: transdisciplinary collaborations for archival autonomy. Archives and Records, 42(1), 3-24.
Worldwide inquiries into childhood institutionalization repeatedly document systemic and enduring problems with fractured and fragmented recordkeeping and archiving systems that put the protection of organizations and institutions ahead of the safety and wellbeing of those in their care. As importantly, they demonstrate how much recordkeeping matters in people’s lives and the role that records play in developing and nurturing identity, connection to family, community, and culture, and as instruments of accountability, restitution, and redress. They highlight the transdisciplinarity inherent in recordkeeping endeavours, and for research and praxis in child welfare and protection to transcend disciplinary, professional, and community boundaries to ensure that systems created to protect children from neglect and abuse do not themselves cause harm. In this article we explore the transformative justice approach of the Archives and the Rights of the Child Research Programme, that, through transdisciplinary collaborations investigating rights-based recordkeeping, aims to advance archival autonomy, the ability of individuals and communities to participate in organizational and societal evidence and memory structures with their own voice. This broad re-imagining of recordkeeping is vital if we are to escape endless cycles of ambiguous and disappointing transitional justice outcomes, through recognizing voice and agency in recordkeeping as a human right.Download
Golding, F., Lewis, A., McKemmish, S., Rolan, G., & Thorpe, K. (2021). Rights in Records: A Charter of Lifelong Rights in Childhood Recordkeeping in Out-of-Home Care for Australian and Indigenous Australian Children and Care Leavers, International Journal of Human Rights.
This paper introduces the Charter of Lifelong Rights in Childhood Recordkeeping in Out-of-Home Care, centred on the critical, lifelong and diverse information and recordkeeping needs of Australian and Indigenous Australian children and adults who are experiencing, or have experienced Out-of-Home Care. The Charter is underpinned by the findings of two community-centred research projects, the Australian Research Council-funded Rights in Records by Design, 2017–2020 (applying a Rights by Design approach and co-design methodologies to rights-based recordkeeping systems in Out-of-Home Care), and the Indigenous Archiving and Cultural Safety: Examining the role of decolonisation and self-determination in libraries and archives doctoral project, 2018–2020 (focusing on Indigenous self-determination and cultural safety in the context of archives and libraries). It also draws on foundational research on the recordkeeping rights of Indigenous Australians undertaken in the Australian Research Council-funded Trust and Technology project, 2006–2010. The principles and values underpinning the Charter relate to child wellbeing and safety, self-determination, linked to archival autonomy and agency, and Indigenous Sovereignty and cultural safety. The development of the Charter is core to a National Framework for Recordkeeping for Childhood Out-of-Home Care, a major outcome of the 2017 National Summit on Setting the Record Straight for the Rights of the Child.
Rolan, G., Phan, H.D., & Evans, J., (2020). Recordkeeping and Relationships: Designing for Lifelong Information Rights. In DIS '20: Proceedings of the 2020 ACM Designing Interactive Systems Conference, Eindhoven Netherlands July, 2020
We describe an approach for designing information infrastructure that addresses lifelong recordkeeping needs for those caught up in the child protection sector. The challenge is to enable people to exert their rights over information as it manifests and changes through time over generational timescales. We conducted a series of participatory design and prototyping workshops over an 18-month period, with a core group of eight academic and community researchers. Using Recordkeeping Informatics to inform critical, rights-based, and trauma-sensitive systems design, we prototyped a distributed and participatory recordkeeping system that allows those with childhood protection experience to participate in their records. In this paper, we describe approaches we adapted for long-term participatory design in sensitive domains, and discuss the design artefacts we developed to capture the complexity of through-time information system design. We propose a set of design guidelines and discuss their implications for design work and systems.
© Rolan, Phan, & Evans (2020). This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here for your personal use. Not for redistribution. The definitive Version of Record was published in DIS '20: Proceedings of the 2020 ACM Designing Interactive Systems Conference, http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/3357236.3395519.Download
Mendes, P., Wilson, J. Z., & Golding, F. (2020). Child Protection Hypothetical Case Studies for a Virtual Archive: Professional Perspectives Versus the Lived Experience and Expertise of Care Leavers in Victoria, Australia. The British Journal of Social Work.
For children in out-of-home care (OOHC) and adults who experienced OOHC as children, the records compiled by care workers, social workers and other relevant personnel present multiple ongoing problems. The records often embody deeply contested narratives that may include distortions and misinterpretations of facts, judgemental inferences, moralistic attitudes and other problematic aspects that can leave the care leaver at best ill-served and at worst profoundly distressed and traumatised. This article, an auto-ethnographic collaboration between a social work professional and two care leavers, aims to address these issues by constructing a ‘virtual archive’ consisting of several hypothetical records compiled in the style typically employed by caseworkers, which are then critiqued by the care leavers. In each case, the record is found to have significant shortcomings in terms of what is included or omitted, the tone, and implied judgements. The article concludes with a discussion that identifies a number of thematic issues and pitfalls intrinsic to the task of record-keeping in the OOHC context and makes recommendations aimed at achieving inclusive, rights-based processes and procedures in the creation and maintenance of records.Download
Golding, F., & Wilson, J. Z. (2019). Lost and Found: Counter Narratives of Dis/located families. In N. Musgrove & K. Moruzi (Eds.), Children's Voices from the Past. Palgrave Macmillan.
Conventional histories of children in institutional care are dominated by official voices justifying a coercive welfare system which isolated children from their families and silenced them publicly. But a succession of formal inquiries have motivated survivors of institutionalised childhoods to testify about atrocious maltreatment. Freedom of Information legislation gave survivors incentives to understand their time in "care" and to reconnect with families. However, many found personal records missing, while those that were located were woefully inadequate, often inaccurate, and painfully pejorative. Care-leavers are now asserting a developing counter-narrative that challenges the dominant narrative of previous eras. This paper summarises a case that goes beyond traditional welfare archives to reveal a story of multi-generational welfare custody, exemplifying the historic ideology underpinning child welfare in Victoria.Download
McKemmish, S., Bone, J., Evans, J., Golding, F., Lewis, A., Rolan, G., Thorpe, K., & Wilson, J. (2019) Decolonizing Recordkeeping and Archival Praxis in Childhood Out-of-Home-Care and Indigenous Archival Collections, Archival Science
This paper presents the aims and findings of two research projects – Rights in Records by Design and Indigenous Archiving and Cultural Safety – making particular reference to the ways in which Australia’s current child welfare systems and their recordkeeping and archival praxis have been indelibly shaped by colonization and its legacies, which persist into the 21st century. We posit that the classist, heteropatriarchal, sexist and racist colonial constructs of child welfare, the neglected and criminal child, and Indigeneity persist to this day and continue to be embodied in the form and content of records and archives, as well as in the principles and values embedded in recordkeeping and archival systems. The paper begins with discussion of framing concepts drawn from records continuum theory and critical theory, followed by an overview of both projects. We then explore in-depth findings of the Rights Charter, Historical Justice, and Educational components of Rights in Records by Design and Indigenous Archiving and Cultural Safety with particular attention to colonial values and negative constructs of childhood and Indigeneity respectively, and their impacts from colonial times to the present. Importantly, we discuss the intersection of constructs of childhood and Indigeneity with colonial values and constructs embedded in recordkeeping and archiving systems. We note that the primary purpose of recordkeeping in colonial times was to provide critical infrastructure that enabled imperial control and exploitation. Consequently, we point to the need for childhood recordkeeping and archiving itself to be decolonized, to embody constructs of the child as having agency and rights, and, in turn, to play its part in decolonizing childhood. Finally, we discuss the contributions that each project is making to decolonizing recordkeeping and archiving theory and practice, and the potential for decolonized recordkeeping and archiving to play their part in decolonizing childhood for children in out-of-home Care and Indigenous Australian children caught up in the Indigenous child welfare system respectively.Download
McKemmish, S., Evans, J., & Rolan, G. (2019) Participatory information governance: transforming recordkeeping for childhood out-of-home Care, Records Management Journal, https://doi.org/10.1108/RMJ-09-2018-0041
Purpose This paper examines the recordkeeping governance requirements of the childhood out-of-home Care sector, with critical interlaced identity, memory, cultural and accountability needs. They argue that as we enter a new era of participation, new models for governance are required to recognise and dynamically negotiate a range of rights in and to records, across space and through time. Instead of recordkeeping configured to support closed organisations and closely bounded information silos, there is a need for recordkeeping to reflect, facilitate and be part of governance frameworks for organisations as nodes in complex information networks.
Design/methodology/approach The paper reports on a key outcome of the Setting the Record Straight for the Rights of the Child National Summit held in Melbourne Australia in May 2017, the National Framework for Recordkeeping in Out-of-Home Care, and the research and advocacy agenda that will support its development.
Findings The authors argue that as we enter an algorithmic age, designing for shared ownership, stewardship, interoperability and participation is an increasing imperative to address the information asymmetries that foster social disadvantage and discrimination. The authors introduce the concept of participatory information governance in response to social, political and cultural mandates for recordkeeping. Given the challenges associated with progressing new participatory models of recordkeeping governance in the inhospitable environment of existing recordkeeping law, standards and governance frameworks, the authors outline how these frameworks will need to be re-figured for participatory recordkeeping.
Practical implications The National Framework for Recordkeeping for Childhood Out-of-Home Care seeks to address the systemic recordkeeping problems that have been most recently highlighted in the 2013-2017 Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Social implications The National Framework for Recordkeeping for Childhood Out-of-Home Care will also address how a suite of recordkeeping rights can be embedded into networked socio-technical systems. This represents an example of a framework for participatory information governance which can help guide the design of new systems in an algorithmic age.
Originality/value The proposed National Framework represents a new model for recordkeeping governance to recognise and enact multiple rights in records. Designed to support the lifelong identity, memory and accountability needs for those who experience childhood out-of-home Care, it aims to foster the transformation of recordkeeping and archival infrastructure to a participatory model that can address the current inequities and better enable the design and oversight of equitable algorithmic systemsDownload
Rolan, G., Evans, J., Abeling, R., Brittain, A., Constable, E., Kelemen, M. & Roberts, E. (2019). Voice, agency, and equity: deep community collaboration in record-keeping research. In Proceedings of RAILS - Research Applications Information and Library Studies, 2018, Faculty of Information Technology, Monash University, 28-30 November 2018. Information Research, 24(3), paper rails1803. Retrieved from http://InformationR.net/ir/24-3/rails/rails1803.html (Archived by the Internet Archive at https://web.archive.org/web/20190818103858/http://informationr.net/ir/24-3/rails/rails1803.html)
Introduction. This article presents the Rights in Records by Design project that seeks to address the structural, generational, and particularly egregious record-keeping issues associated with child protection and the out-of-home care sector. We provide various perspectives on our research approach that is geared to engage at individual, community, organisational and societal levels.
Method. The participatory design and conduct of the project involves all members of the project. We focus on the close and continuous collaboration during all phases of this project by not only domain experts from various disciplines, but also advocates and community members from affected communities. Research participants are involved in all aspects of the conduct of research from planning to the communication of results.
Results. We found that participatory and co-design approaches not only leads to richer knowledge generation and better design outcomes, but also to unexpected benefits resulting from the empowerment of participants. We also note difficulties in conducting participatory research within a traditional academic context.
Conclusions. This project demonstrates the importance of being given voice and being heard. In many ways, this project has served to create an empowering space to explore how constructing and using 'your own knowledge' can lead to a wide variety of personal, community, and sector transformations.Download
Wilson, J. Z., Harvey, A., & Mendes, P. (2019). Changing Lives: Improving Care Leaver Access to Higher Education in Australia. Oxford Review of Education, 45(4), 573-586.
Australian and international research evidence documents the limited access of young people transitioning from out-of-home care (OOHC) to further and higher education. This paper examines the processes, outcomes and key findings of the Raising Expectations project, which involved a collaborative university and industry approach to promote higher education among care leavers at two Australian universities. The project involved consultations with students who had experienced out of home care and reported having met numerous systemic challenges in both the education sector and the welfare/care system that prevented or delayed their advent into higher education. The findings reiterate the importance of policy and practice reforms that target those in or transitioning from OOHC.Download
Wilson, J. Z., & Reeves, K. (2019). The Loud Fences Campaign: Grass Roots Activism, Heritage and the Cultural landscape. In P. Ashton & A. Trapeznik (Eds.), What is Public History Globally? Working with the Past in the Present. Bloombsbury Academic Press.
The meaning of cultural, Or historic, landscape resides in both its aesthetic qualities and the memories and experiences it embodies. Cultural landscape is a complex Of interwoven expressions Of ideas, ideals, ideologies and aspirations, Of layered and contested narratives, of shifting community identity. The connotations of a landscape are often highly personal, while simu taneously reflecting broad public values and sensibilities. This is especially true in the case of revered institutions of the sort that combine a key role in community history, a consciously profound aesthetic quality and a central place in the community's spiritual life. Wherever it is present, the Roman Catholic church has long held a deeply significant place in the cultural landscape, in local history-making and in the urban aesthetc. Everywhere the church is strong in terms of numbers of the faithful; its penetration of the social environment makes it highly visible, highly potent as a social agent and centrally important to the local social memory, even among non- Catholic and secular populations.
The church embodies tacit narratives of moral and spiritual guidance and Of participation in and shaping Of the growth Of communities' civic historical identity — a dynamic relational status that exemplifies what has been termed 'authorized heritage discourse'This notion of heritage as officially sanctioned practice bound up with the community's defining narratives reveals something of a paradox. The very aspects by which it contributes to social stability and identity also render it vulnerable to the socially disruptive effects of any contestation of those narratives, especially when that contestation is revealed in ways that resonate with people's personal connection with a collective historical consciousness. This chapter addresses some Of the processes involved, and the issues that arise, when such disruptive histories become public fare.Download
Evans, J., & Wilson, J. Z. (2018). Inclusive archives and recordkeeping: towards a critical manifesto. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 24(8), 857–860. https://doi.org/10.1080/13527258.2018.1428671
The need for archiving systems and methodological approaches that acknowledge and accommodate the manifold complexities of memory-making has been well established for decades. Just as history and heritage have come to be understood as domains of (at times hotly) contested narratives, so too the archival sources upon which they draw, and in turn further create, are now increasingly interrogated regarding their intrinsic ideological biases, their role in creating and maintaining power imbalances, and their integrity as products of variant, at times conflicting, motives and points of view. omplement, frame, and support critical archiving and recordkeeping theorizing and practice. We propose an expansive definition of critical archiving and recordkeeping; one that moves beyond academy-centred, normative critiques and goal-setting to embrace transformative, participatory research and practice, which is particularly relevant to the integrated archiving and recordkeeping needs of individuals and communities.Download
Rolan, G., Evans, J., Bone, J., Lewis, A., Golding, F., Wilson, J. Z., McKemmish, S., Mendes, P., & Reeves, K. (2018). Weapons of Affect: the imperative for transdisciplinary Information Systems design. In Building And Sustaining An Ethical Future With Emerging Technology: Proceedings of the ASIS&T 81st Annual Meeting (pp. 420–429). Vancouver: Association for Information Science and Technology.
Much has been written about ethical and human-centred Information Systems (IS) design, most recently regarding the deleterious outcomes and negative affect of some machine learning applications that embed and perpetuate unethical or even inhumane automation. Terms such as ‘harm’, ‘damage’, and surprisingly, ‘weapon’ have entered the language of this discourse. However, these characteristics are not unique to applications of data science but have long manifested in IS that can also can exhibit opacity and establish tight vicious cycles. These, when coupled with a lack of governance feedback, can perpetuate injustice that has community or sector-wide reach. In this paper, we explore how IS design that sets out with the best of intentions or at least, conceived as a ‘neutral’ system for managing transactional information, can emerge as ‘tools that punish’. We argue that there are crucial principles to be taken from Recordkeeping Informatics, concerned as it is with the entanglement of information and people across space and through time on multi-generational timescales. In particular we discuss how transdisciplinary and critical approaches are necessary to cover more of the design space and surface issues, rights, stakeholders, and, most importantly, values that may be otherwise hidden from a here-and-now, transactional viewpoint.Download
Wilson, J. Z., & Golding, F. (2018). The tacit semantics of 'Loud Fences': tracing the connections between activism, heritage and new histories. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 24(8), 861–873. https://doi.org/10.1080/13527258.2017.1325767
In 2015, in response to harrowing accounts of child sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy in the town of Ballarat, a campaign of public support was launched in the form of coloured ribbons attached to the fences of institutions where the abuse had occurred. The "Loud Fence" campaign has become a global form of protest and commemoration. Institutions’ reactions were varied; some removed the ribbons, to find them promptly replaced, with attendant publicity. Thus was established a silent dialogue that encapsulated the contested nature of the ribbons’ symbolism, and exemplified, too, the campaign’s disparate implied audiences. The paper discusses the meanings of the Loud Fences in relation to divided community sensibilities and intangible heritage, as a performative mode of activism and of heritage-making. It considers ways in which the campaign challenges institutional cultures that stand as extant remnants of colonialism and as edifices of iconic institutional power. The Loud Fences campaign is characterised as a grass-roots quest, initially intended to show solidarity with disenfranchised victims of abuse, that has come to be seen as giving them a symbolic “voice” in the face of institutional denial. The paper touches upon the ways in which such campaigns, based on visual symbols and contested, yet unspoken, "dialogue", can be historicised.Download
Wilson, J. Z., Mendes, P., & Golding, F. (2018). Hope Street: From Voice to Agency for Care-Leavers in Higher Education. Life Writing, 15(4), 597–609. https://doi.org/10.1080/14484528.2018.1427420
In the early 1980s, one of the authors became an adolescent ward of the State of Victoria, Australia, and went into out-of-home care. While in care, repeated encounters with researchers, journalists and policy-makers left her disillusioned as to the efficacy and relevance of their activities, in that although she was sporadically provided with a ‘voice’, this did little to bridge the divide between their world of privilege and the non-privileged world of the subject of their attentions. The article argues that this divide is perpetuated long after people leave care as adults, and that a mere ‘voice’ is not enough – what is needed is agency, in the design and execution of research. This can be achieved through extended education, depending in turn on an inclusive culture shift within institutions of higher learning. The article utilises the author's personal experience as a brief case study.Download
McKemmish, S., Evans, J., & Rolan, G. (2017) Critical Approaches to Archiving and Recordkeeping in the Continuum. Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies, 1(2). https://doi.org/10.24242/jclis.v1i2.35
Records Continuum scholarship is increasingly engaging with critical and participatory approaches to research and practice, "questioning the social constructs, values and power differentials embedded in current recordkeeping infrastructure exploring archival and recordkeeping agency, autonomy and activism, and moving beyond insight and critique with the aim of bringing about transformative outcomes". In this paper, we identify the key characteristics of these approaches with reference to the suite of research projects that make up the Archives and the Rights of the Child program. We explore how Records Continuum, theory, models and constructs complement, frame, and support critical archiving and recordkeeping theorizing and practice. We propose an expansive definition of critical archiving and recordkeeping; one that moves beyond academy-centred, normative critiques and goal-setting to embrace transformative, participatory research and practice, which is particularly relevant to the integrated archiving and recordkeeping needs of individuals and communities.Download
The Rights in Records by Design Project is funded through an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant DP170100198. The Chief Investigators are Associate Professor Joanne Evans (Monash University), Associate Professor Jacqueline Wilson (Federation University Australia), Professor Sue McKemmish (Monash), Associate Professor Philip Mendes (Monash), Professor Keir Reeves (Federation), and Dr Jane Bone (Monash).
Associate Professor Joanne Evans is the recipient of ARC Future Fellowship FT140100073 Connecting the Disconnected: Co-Designing Inclusive Archival and Recordkeeping Systems.
We would also like to acknowledge the contributions of all those involved in the Setting the Record Straight for the Rights on the Child Initiative, and at the May 2017 Summit, to the development of the National Framework for Childhood Out-of-Home Care.