Helen Meyer Wins HCSA's Oral Historian of the Year 2022

Amy Leiper, 1st June 2022
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Helen Meyer, Executive Producer of Service Voices - service to country, service to community, has won the HCSA's Oral History Excellence Award. For the first time, this award has been included in the History Council of South Australia (HCSA) Historian Awards. It recognises the best oral history presentation, in any format, that uses first person interviews with individuals encompassing unique life experiences and memories.

For her role as Executive Producer (and volunteer) of Service Voices on Radio Adelaide, Helen has broadcast hundreds of programs containing news, views and memories from the veteran, service, volunteer, Defence and history communities, giving a voice to sectors of our community not available elsewhere. Helen and Service Voices have been instrumental in ensuring recognition of the history of many who have served Australia, regardless of their rank or position; often the stories come from their families, presenting a broader picture than the purely military. Many believe that without Helen and Service Voices, Australian stories like these would have been lost forever. The heart of this work has been a great font of oral history, mostly collected and edited by Helen. She has travelled widely for interviews and then edited to tight deadlines to maintain the weekly broadcast – no mean feat.  

Helen has a soft-spoken interview approach and a genuine interest in her interviewees and their lives which creates an environment that encourages conversation. Many of Helen’s interviewees freely admit to not previously being able or wanting to talk about their experiences, particularly wartime ones; others have been too humble to believe their stories could be of interest to others.     

Most of Helen’s ongoing contribution to South Australia’s and Australia’s history is preserved in archives on Radio Adelaide’s website and is freely available to the public.  She shares copies of her archives with State Records and the State Library, and contributes new photos, information and links to interviews to the Virtual War Memorial.

Service Voices has a few hundred episodes and Helen has also undertaken greater projects, which have led, for example, to greater support for organisations such as Australia's Malaya and Borneo Veterans, Korean War veterans, the men and boys who served in the Merchant Navy and Small Ships during WW2, and others. Helen researched and produced the special documentary broadcast called ‘From 6TTU to Vietnam – An APC For Australia’, covering an aspect of Australia’s military history that not many people, even in senior positions, knew about. The participants in the broadcast are in advanced ages, and this special documentary broadcast and half hour film has captured and preserved their stories.  It will be finalised by 30 June 2022 and broadcast Australia-wide. On Sunday 13 March 2022, a commemoration service for the 80th  Anniversary of Allied Service in the Pacific was held at the Navigator Memorial, Port Adelaide; Helen’s work has in part been instrumental in bringing this event to fruition.

Helen interest in the services started in 1963 when she left home and joined the Army. She married a soldier, and when she was widowed in 2011, volunteered for a role in community radio, despite having no previous experience. And the rest is history.

Keeping history at the forefront is is a passion for Helen. Besides Service Voices, every Christmas Day she produces a three hour Scottish broadcast that is listened to throughout Australia and overseas.  It features aspects of Scottish migration to Australia and the Scots’ often-overlooked contribution to communities. 

Service Voices airs Mondays from 6 to 7pm on Radio Adelaide 101.5FM and on digital + live online. CRN offers the program throughout Australia. To find out more about the program, please contact support@cbaa.org.au.

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