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Right of Reply

Offensive Content

Some collection items held by the University of Newcastle’s Special collections include insensitive wording, explicit or implicit expressions of racism, bigotry and offensive cultural or geographical references and stereotypes. While rejecting all discriminatory ideologies, languages and approaches, the University of Newcastle Special Collections, in the interest of honest research and interpretation, will continue to provide access to these materials within its collections, both physically and digitally. Accordingly, in order to preserve and accurately present historical materials, and to ensure that attitudes and viewpoints of the past are not erased from the historical record, we will continue to preserve transcribed titles, captions, full-text documents, and inscriptions.

The University Library Policy states: "Intellectual freedom: The Library will support the principles stated in the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) Free access to information statement and recommendations by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) by developing collections that represent a variety of perspectives. Resources will not be censored or removed based on disapproval of the author’s political, social, moral, or other opinions or behaviour."

Special Collections staff are actively seeking to identify offensive content in our digital collections and provide content warnings and supplemental metadata at collection and item levels. Unlabelled offensive items may still exist in the collections. Items may exist that are taboo or culturally sensitive. 

Decolonising Collections

The Special Collections team is currently embarking on a project to decolonise our collections and pay respect to Indigenous Knowledge and Culture. We encourage people from Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities to exercise your Right of Reply.

What is the Right of Reply?

Released in August 2021, the Indigenous Archives Collective (IAC) published their Position Statement on the Right of Reply to Indigenous Knowledges and Information held in Archives with a call-to-action:

We call for the Australian sector to take a stand as Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples to prioritise the Right of Reply and support Indigenous self-determination in the GLAM sector (IAC, 2021).

The Right of Reply is a participatory archive model, where Indigenous people can directly address material related to or depicting their culture. The Right of Reply is the right to enhance, correct, update, critique or even withdraw Indigenous knowledge in collections (IAC, 2021). It is related to truth-telling, sovereignty and self-determination and recognising the weaknesses of our digital collections as Eurocentric, institutionalised and colonial containing, “issues and inherent biases associated with record making and collecting paradigms that silence and subjugate Indigenous peoples’ voices and knowledges” (IAC, 2021).

Indigenous Archives Collective (IAC) 2021, Indigenous Archives Collective Position Statement, viewed 7 September 2021,

How to exercise your Right of Reply:

To exercise your Right of Reply, browse our collections and find something you would like to comment on, links to examples in the system that could benefit from Reply can be found in our Indigenous Knowledge related collections. Decide whether you would like to reply to this item publicly or privately. 

If you would like to reply publicly, first create an account on Living Histories. Once you are logged in, find the item you would like to comment on and click on the blue ‘Add’ Button next to ‘Recollections’ on the left panel. Type your response in the box and then click on ‘Add my Story’ (click here for further instructions). Your comment will be sent to the system administrator and will show up on the site within the next week.

If you would like to reply privately, or have difficulty with the above instructions, please email us at with your reply.

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations.
We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.