Freedom Then, Freedom Now at State Library of Queensland, 2017.
Freedom Then, Freedom Now at State Library of Queensland, 2017. Josef Ruckli

Fight for freedom in new exhibitions

QUEENSLANDERS can take a take a trip into their collective past and experience the fight for freedom and recognition in two new exhibitions at the State Library of Queensland (SLQ).

Freedom Then, Freedom Now and Don't Just Count Us, Let Us Count! offer a unique insight into the state's turbulent battle for civil rights and the ongoing impact those struggles have on society.

"Queensland has seen some major events in relation to personal liberties," Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch said.

"And these exhibitions offer Queenslanders the opportunity to learn more about both the historical facts and social context.

"There are Queenslanders alive today whose families have lived here for thousands of generations but when born here, were not counted as citizens in their own country until after the 1967 Referendum.

"We have many stories of activism and advocacy in Queensland that helped bring about the Referendum and the change in our Constitution, and these stories are represented in these exhibitions."

Freedom Then, Freedom Now showcases the freedoms enjoyed, and denied, in Queensland since the 1950s while posing the question of what happens when individual rights clash with the collective good.

Meanwhile, Don't Just Count Us, Let Us Count! reflects on a watershed moment for the state - the 1967 Referendum - through the unique perspective of alumni of the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts (ACPA).

State Librarian and CEO Vicki McDonald said the exhibitions, and the State Library as an institution both told "a story unlike any other".

"The 1967 Referendum changed the course of Australian history," Ms McDonald said.

"SLQ's extensive collections house more than just published works, photographs and newspapers, with our repositories holding original materials and personally donated items as varied as clothing, signage, political ephemera, digital stories and even a cigarette case.

"(And) our partnership with ACPA for Don't Just Count Us, Let Us Count! is just one way in which we're working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, community groups and individuals in Queensland to ensure their stories are collected, preserved and shared."

Both exhibitions are free and open to the public from Friday 5 May until Sunday 1 October.

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