About us

The History Council of New South Wales (HCNSW) was established in 1995.  It is a not-for-profit membership association, and a registered charity.  It is supported by Create NSW through an annual grant under the Arts & Cultural Development Program, and through partnerships with large cultural organisations.

The HCNSW is guided by the rules of its Constitution, a copy of which is available for download on this page.  Its work is guided by a General Council that is elected from and by the membership.


Our Vision

The HCNSW believes that History shapes the present and the future.  The HCNSW fosters the practice of history in all its forms.

We provide programs and services, which aim to build capacity within the history sector and showcase the importance of history.

We focus on five key areas:

  • Members – Dialogue & Development
  • Sector – Data & Research
  • Forms of Practice
  • Advocacy
  • Alliances & Goodwill

Our objectives are to:

  • provide a forum for identifying and responding to issues of relevance to the practice of history
  • support history’s role in informing and shaping public debate, policy and future planning
  • recognise the diversity of historical perspectives, including those of Indigenous peoples, and encourage excellence in historical practice
  • facilitate communication within the history community and provide opportunities for collaboration
  • provide professional development activities and opportunities for our members and audiences across NSW.

Image Credit above: Photo by Museums Victoria on Unsplash

Four young children, 1932, by Sam Hood, courtesy State Library of NSW

Want to support our work? Become a member today

Our Staff

The History Council of NSW is staffed part-time by Catherine Shirley, Sarah Swift and Lisa Paton, and is governed by the Executive Committee and General Council.

Catherine Shirley

Executive & Strategic Development Officer (0.6 FTE)

Catherine is an adult educator and historian who enjoys researching and creating and distributing stories of the past to illuminate the present, as well as managing cultural organisations to reach their potential.

Her career experiences include the ABC (TV Producer & Series Producer of Factual Programs and then Senior Executive), AFTRS (Hd Television), National Film & Sound Archive (Senior Executive) and various Adult Education management roles including the City of Sydney.

Her qualifications include a Bachelor of Philosophy (Modern History), Graduate Diploma in eLearning, Graduated Diploma in Human Resource Management and Master of Education in Adult Education.

Lisa Paton

Project Officer First Nations Histories (0.4 FTE)

Lisa has a passion for First Nations History and has worked in several roles supporting the Aboriginal Community in the protection, research, and recording of Aboriginal Cultural History.

She has also worked developing projects and programs to highlight traditional land management practices through her previous role as Natural Resource Manager at Orange Local Aboriginal Land Council and through Landcare.

Her qualifications include a Diploma in Leadership and Management, a Diploma in Community Coordination and Facilitation, Lisa is currently studying an Advanced Diploma of Arts (Archaeology & History) at the University of New England.

Sarah Swift

Programs & Administration Officer (0.4 FTE)

Sarah Swift is an historian, teacher and researcher who is passionate about engaging with the past.


Following a career in travel and tourism and living abroad, Sarah became an educational officer with Sydney University Museums, before becoming a high school history teacher. She volunteers for the Bathurst District Historical Society as media officer and works with local historians on various projects and publications.


Her qualifications include a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in History and Ancient History (University of Sydney) and a Graduate Diploma of Education (Macquarie University).

Lauren Chater

Media & Communications Officer (0.2 FTE)

Lauren Chater is a Sydney-based author and media graduate interested in connecting the past and present. 

After graduating from UNSW with a BA in Media & Communications, she wrote her first manuscript The Lace Weaver which was picked up and published by Simon & Schuster in 2018. She has since published two more novels (Gulliver’s Wife and The Winter Dress) and has spoken at writers’ festivals and cultural events.


The History Council of NSW is a charity registered with the Australian Charities & Not-for-Profits Commission.  Click on the logo to read more about us.

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