The Ringwood RSL has some of the best displays of memorabilia in Victorian. The collection focuses on locally and nationally relevant military memorabilia, covering all theatres of activity by Australian Forces since Federation from WW1, WW2, Korea and Vietnam. We have on display items ranging from uniforms, equipment, photographs, medals souvenirs, trench art, books and ephemera.
Ringwood RSL is a metropolitan sub-branch of the RSL, situated in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
It was formed in 1919 with a membership of 28.
After a short hiatus, and through the efforts of one member, Captain Miles the RSL was re-established in 1924 and has been in continuous ever since this time.
Originally housed in the Mechanics Institute building, members successfully raised enough funds to buy Jubilee Hall on Station street in 1956 with further renovations taking place in the subsequent years.
The clubs current location adjacent to the railway station and within busy shopping district of Ringwood is a definite advantage to the RSL in terms of public access for potential visitors. The club is known also for the strength of its Women's auxiliary which was formed at the start of World War 2and has a long history of successfully raising funds for welfare and conducting social events for families of returned soldiers.
The origins of the memorabilia collection and arrival at this location are currently unknown, however the work undertaken through the VHP by the Memorabilia team has sparked a renewed interest in finding out more about it's beginnings. The collection focuses on locally and nationally relevant military memorabilia, covering all theaters of activity by Australian Forces since foundation. It consists broadly of uniforms, honour boards, military relics, trench art, books, photographs, firearms and ephemera.
It has grown over the years in an impromptu way, largely by donations passed to the RSL by veterans or their families and in some cases by the Armed Forces them selves. The exact size of the RSL's collection is currently unknown, but estimated to be around 2000 items.
Unlike other RSL memorabilia collections in the surrounding areas which have found it difficult to continue due to dwindling numbers of volunteers and inadequate skills, it is anticipated that the Ringwood branch is likely to grow as the demand for suitable places capable of caring for these items increases. Ringwood RSL's desire to participate in the VHP is motivated primarily to ensure that they have the skills and knowledge required to take care of current items with future expansion in mind.
The Ringwood RSL has great exhibition spaces available for the showing of the memorabilia collection and also have a desire to be able to create and develop interesting and engaging exhibitions for the public to enjoy. Prior to their participation in the Veterans Heritage Project (VHP), the organisation did not have a system in place to account for and properly manage their collection. The three main issues have been: 1) loss and/or destruction of valuable objects, 2) little to no knowledge of object provenance, 3) limited skills, equipment and knowledge to undertake collection management.
By providing the Ringwood RSL members with the tools necessary to properly care for their collection, it is expected that not only will the RSL, but the wider community, will begin to actively engage with the history of the organisation through Victorian Collections. It is expected that this will contribute positively to the continuation and preservation of their collection for generations to come.
After 11 day5 of on-site training and support from MA (Vic) staff, participants Ringwood RSL have successfully
• reorganised and renovated the collection store
• developed policies and procedures consistent with museum standards,
• acquired new skills, knowledge and confidence to continue to manage their collection to the standards demonstrated
• catalogued a total of 150 records on the Victorian Collections collection management system — all of which were made publicly accessible.
As a direct result of the Veterans Heritage Project, participating members of Ringwood RSL have become competent users of Victorian Collections, and have also developed a clear understanding of collection management best-practices and standards. The Ringwood RSL Memorabilia team is also committed to continuing the task of cataloguing their collection until it has been completely documented on Victorian Collections and have set targets for themselves to achieve this result. For the continuing success of the project it is important for Ringwood RSL members to recognise a few potential challenges:
1) Maintaining momentum in cataloguing with Victorian Collections use to ensure the on-going success of the project.
2) Ensuring the collection policy is actively used to guide acquisitions and deaccessioning.
3) Ensuring acquisitions are received in a formal way so that vital donor and object information is not lost which can potentially result in the RSL being left with unwanted items and no legal ownership. Procedures to deal with this need to be discussed broadly with RSL management and front of house staff also.
4) Ensuring that all memorabilia is well-documented and appropriately stored.
5) Monitoring and maintaining a Pest Management program to ensure sensitive items such ds those made from fabrics or paper are not degrading.'
6) Tracking the movement of objects as they come on and off display and ensuring records are updated accordingly.
Participation from Ringwood RSL remained constant across the 11-day period, with numbers ranging from two to seven members. The participants were:
• George Ward
• Brian Roe
• Peter Fogarty
• Colin Vincent
• Geoff Coglan
• David Liggett
In total , seven participants can be said to be able to competently use Victorian Collections for cataloguing items. With heightened awareness of the project at the Ringwood RIL it is hoped that new users will be added to this list in the future.
Peter Hedgcock has lately volunteered to assist the above crew.
5.5. Policies and Procedures
During the workshop, participants gained an understanding of the importance of collection policies and donation forms as being fundamental to how a museum operates, as well as guiding and informing how a collection is acquired and used. Resulting from this training, Ringwood RSL developed a draft collection policy that will soon be presented to their council for approval and adoption.
It was important for MA (Vic) Staff to be onsite throughout the entire duration of the program to provide help and advice.
The 11-day training resulted in a steady progression of skill and confidence development as participants had varying degrees of comfort and experience using digital technologies and working with memorabilia. At the start of the workshop, those who were less familiar with computers and internet usage required more assistance from MA (Vic) staff throughout the day; however, by the end of the 11 days, these individuals were able to catalogue objects on their own. MA (Vic) staff also noted that participants were eager and capable to help one another if advice or assistance was needed.
MA (Vic) staff could see participants using their new skills within the examination and investigation of items — searching for inscriptions and markings. Moreover, participants demonstrated a greater understanding of preventative conservation. By the end of the workshop, participants were able to assess and appropriately prepare objects for long-term storage without assistance.
7. Budget Disbursement
Ringwood RSL was granted $5,000 for the purchase of goods and services that would contribute to the preservation of their memorabilia.
MA (Vic) staff concluded that the establishment of a designated, secure storage area at Ringwood RSL was a key priority. This would provide a more stable environment for fragile materials, and create safe, secure storage for easy object retrieval and access. To facilitate this long-term preservation and storage plan, conservation-grade materials were purchased from Archival Survival along with cabinets from Safer Storage Systems.
Additional tools and materials (detailed below) were also purchased to provide Ringwood RSL members with enough resources to allow them to continue cataloguing once MA (Vic) staff had finished on-site.
Table 2: Materials and equipment purchased as at the time of report:
Assorted materials Archival Survival $ 1,899.60
Shelf and cabinets Safer Storage Systems $ 831.00
Assorted materials Archival Survival $ 321.86
Camera Ted's Cameras $ 499.95
Assorted materials Archival Survival $ 693.32
TOTAL: $ 4,245.73
Ringwood RSL Memorabilia Collection. (25)
Established by the late Len Polkinghorne the collection was catalogued with the assistance of John Mangan in the mid 1990s. The collection has continued to grow as the demand for suitable places capable of caring for these items increases.