OAM Investiture Nationally Recognises University Service to Regional Histories

Mr Gionni Di Gravio, University Archivist, was awarded the Order of Australia Medal at the beginning of the year. But COVID restrictions delayed the official Investiture Ceremony until recently.

We are delighted to report that his Investiture Ceremony was celebrated at Government House Sydney on the 9th September 2020 at 4pm. A recording of the global live stream can be seen above. The award nationally recognises his quarter century of service as an archivist of the University of Newcastle (UON) in the service of its local regions and their extraordinary histories.

Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beasley AO QC presenting Mr Gionni Di Gravio, OAM with his Australian Honour at the Investiture Ceremony held at Government House, Sydney on 9th September 2020 at 4pm. Original Livestream: https://livestream.com/blive/investitureceremonyseptember2020/videos/210767618

He is a fully qualified professional with extensive experience spanning a quarter century working with Cultural Collections and has forged a reputation as an innovator and pioneer using emerging technologies to connect communities across a global digital research and public engagement footprint.

For the past fifteen years, he been responsible for managing the University’s extensive archival research collections, and has supervised a core team of four (4) full-time professionals, and over one hundred (100) affiliated staff and trainees employed as casuals, work integrated learning placements and volunteers working across simultaneous projects. In that time he has cultivated extensive relationships and networks across the University’s regional communities.


OAM Investiture Certificate and Invitation.

He is an Australian Society of Archivists Accredited Professional (ASAAP), former Councillor and the current national GLAM (i.e., Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums) Peak body representative & UNISiG (University Archives Special Interest Group) Convenor for the Australian Society of Archivists (ASA) and University of Newcastle.

Since 2008, he has led a trans-disciplinary team of UON, Industry and Community researchers through the Hunter Living Histories Initiative, to investigate, promote and rigorously document Newcastle and the Hunter Region’s history.

From 2016, he established the UON’s GLAMx (i.e., Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums to the power of x) Lab (the first in any Australian University) to integrate these regional community partnership projects with the UON’s strategic objectives to provide work integrated learning (WIL) opportunities to enable the UON’s students to train and acquire real world skills and training across the GLAM sector professions.

UON students, alumni and volunteers have benefited with paid employment opportunities made possible through the generosity of the community donors known as the Vera Deacon Regional History Fund, to invest directly in the work that he helped establish in collaboration with the philanthropic community.

He is also immensely proud of his fellow staff, students, volunteers and community benefactors who have all received awards and recognition from the UON and Commonwealth of Australia for their work in Cultural Collections. For example, in 2017 one of our students, Peter Langton, won the inaugural 2017 UON Industry Awards as Work Integrated Learning Student of the Year and his GLAMx co-ordinator, Dr Ann Hardy, was awarded the 2017 Work Integrated Learning Staff Member of the Year. Our volunteers have received commonwealth awards in 2014, 2015, and 2018 Our benefactor Mrs Vera Deacon has won the Free(woman) of the City of Newcastle and Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in part for her support of our work since 2002.

OAM Case holding the medals


  • 2020 Executive Producer for “Scott Sisters of Ash Island” film showcasing local history and UON’s role, as part of Stories of Our Town Twelve Program series.
  • 2020 Awarded the Order of Australia Medal for services to the community, especially with respect as an archivist.
  • 2017 Creation of the Deep Time Project involving the 3D digitisation of Aboriginal artefacts discovered in Newcastle West in 2009 and dating back 6,700 years. Advocated on the protection of Aboriginal heritage across the region, publishing the reports of the 2009 excavations at the former Palais Royale site that triggered a review of Aboriginal Heritage legislation across NSW. For more information see: https://hunterlivinghistories.com/category/aboriginal-history-and-culture/
  • 2016 Established the nation’s first GLAMx Lab in Cultural Collections, Auchmuty Library and WIL program for students.
  • 2016 Assisted in the creation of a 3D VR Victoria Theatre Reconstruction, the culmination of a ground-breaking collaboration, involving academic research, archives, IT innovative practice and technologies, business and community engagement.
  • In 2016 established support network to digitise the NBN Archive representing half a century of news and film content from local TV station and its incorporation as part of GLAMx Lab.
  • 2012 – 2017 Led the creative projects utilising history and featuring the work of Charles Martin’s 3D Virtual Reality representation of the early Newcastle landscape from 1800 to 1830.
  • In 2009 and 2015 assisted in the preparation of the University Gallery’s most successful exhibitions including, Windows to Another Time: The Ralph Snowball Glass Negatives, and the Rodoni Collection. Also supported a range of external initiatives including the Newcastle Treasures of the Macquarie Era Exhibition in collaboration with the Art Gallery and NSW State Library see: https://hunterlivinghistories.com/2013/03/10/newcastles-7000-years-of-achievements-before-the-commonwealth/
  • Established the Vera Deacon Regional History Fund in 2008 to provide employment to our students volunteers in the digitisation of the region’s historical archives. Between 2017-2019 in-kind and financial community investment amounted to $754,863.16.
  • From 2007 he pioneered the use of digital social media platforms for the distributed access to archival material, then known as “Web 2.0” This work was delivered in a series of national seminars and conferences during 2008 as ‘Web 2.0 revolution in community engagement with archives – University of Newcastle Experience’
  • In 2006 presented his paper “Mapping Historical Resources on the Google Earth Canvas for Teaching and Research” at the eLearning Symposium held at RMIT University and again in 2007 to the Australian Society of Archivists National Conference in Alice Springs.
  • In 2005 was part of the Coal River Working Party team who re-discovered the earliest convict coal mines in the southern hemisphere, in 2008 ensured that the Coal River and James Fletcher Historic Precincts achieved NSW State Heritage Listing, in 2010 Designed and enabled the crafting the Macquarie Pier Commemorative Plaque which was unveiled by Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO, Governor of New South Wales at a ceremony at the Nobbys Surf Life Saving Club on the 4 August 2010 at 4 pm.
  • In 1998 won the Vice-Chancellor’s General Staff Excellence Award for the original Archives Rare Books and Special Collections Website. These digital objects are now stored on the Cultural Collections Digital Data Share, a veritable “Central Station” for all Cultural Collections digitisation and projects.
  • Digital access to research communities is provided through a number of web portals including:


2015 – Present. GLAM Peak Australia for Australian Society of Archivists (ASA) & UON
2018 – Present. UNISiG Convenor, Australian Society of Archivists (ASA).
2008 – Present. Chair, UON’s Hunter Living Histories (Coal River Working Party)
2009 – Present. Patron, Newcastle & Hunter District Historical Society
2015 – 2018. ASA Editor, Archives Matters Newsletter.
2014 – 2018, ASA Councillor.
1996 – 1997 Community Rep Beyond 2000 Steering Committee Steel River Project
1996 – 2005 Vice-President, Mayfield Residents Group 1996 -1997 Member of Beyond 2000 Steering Committee for Steel River Project
1995 – 2004 Member of Mayfield Residents Group, Vice-President from 1996-2004.

OAM Case holding the medals

Other links

2010 – Aboriginal collections at the University of Newcastle Archives ‘Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Data Archive’

2012 – Public Meeting- the Origins of King Edward Park Recreation Reserve Newcastle

2014 – In Conversation ‘Ash Island’ with Gionni di Gravio, Vanessa Finney, Belinda Howden, Cherie Cherie Johnson, Emma van Leest. The Lock Up

2017 – Gionni Di Gravio at the Newcastle Hunter Studies Symposium

University preserves Dungog Chronicle newspaper collection

Community Collaboration & Participation at the University’s Cultural Collections


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