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Regional Arts Development Central West NSW
history here
Primary school students in small schools making films based on local history.

Writer and literacy consultant Paul Stafford’s passion for historical fiction and Vince Lovecchio’s passion for filmmaking led them to establish History Here.

The inaugural History Here project took was auspiced by Arts OutWest. Paul and Vince, now working as The Project Zone, have since continued the project with funding from Heritage NSW as a collaboration between NSW primary schools and various museums and agencies.

History Here utilises a project-based learning model centred on school students making short films about an historical event or character in their immediate area.  Students conduct research, draft scripts, create costumes and props, as well as in the films.

Watch: a profile of the History Here project on the Project Zone Vimeo channel:

Paul Stafford (author and literacy consultant) and Vince Lovecchio (filmmaker and community initiatives facilitator) are creative directors of Project Zone which coordinates the History Here project.

Paul’s recent books ‘You’re History, Mate!’ (Australian history, non-fiction, Random House), ‘Ned Kelly’s Helmet’ (1998) and sequel ‘Captain Flinders’ Map’ (fiction, New Holland, 2016) aim to revivify Australian history for students through highlighting the most exciting historical events.

This History Here pilot program paired students from Borenore Public School, Mullion Creek Public School, Spring Hill Public School, Cudal Public School and Manildra Public School with heritage-minded seniors. The students interviewed the seniors for inspiration for their film-scripts. The students also helped write a music score and performed the stories on camera.

“Students were excited and enthused by the realisation that interesting, dramatic and significant events occurred where they live,” Paul Stafford said.

The short films by each school cover local stories. The films were first screened at the Amusu Theatre in Manildra on Saturday 10 June, 2017 as part of the Orange Youth Arts Festival in 2017.

  • Manildra Public School – story of Allan Tom who founded Amusu Theatre (the oldest continuous running in Australia).
  • Borenore Public School – The story of Frank Rusconi, discoverer of marble at Borenore.
  • Spring Hill Public School did an interpretation of the Man from Ironbark (with a local connection).
  • Mullion Creek Public School – The Story of Ophir Joe (an early discoverer of big gold at Ophir).
  • Cudal Public School – The story of Max Hazleton, founder of Hazleton Airlines who survived a crash in the bush in the Cox River Catchment, sustaining no injuries (apart from a broken watch) and wandered starving for six days through wild canyons.

Parents were invited to have input into the project, via their own information and/or assisting with period costume. Students were encouraged to share what they had learnt with their parents, with a view to increasing community awareness of local events of historical significance.

“Students don’t have a large connection with the region’s history. History Here aimed to change that lack of awareness through connecting youth with seniors and highlighting the value of using historical events as the foundation for creative output,” Mr Stafford said.


Feedback from teachers and parents included:

  • “It was great for kids to get a better understanding of their own local history.”
  • “The process of researching a local event or character, then writing a script and acting it out, really brought the story to life.”
  • “I was amazed at some of the things that had happened in my own backyard that I was unaware of.”
  • “We have such a rich history here in the Central West – projects like this help keep it alive, especially among kids.”


Project Zone’s History Here project won the 2018 National Trust’s National Heritage Award and the prestigious Museums & Galleries (MAGNA) National Award in 2019 for the Bigger than Ben Hall project. An international web-based broadcast that involved short films made by students from Central West schools themed around the activities of infamous goldrush-era bushranger Ben Hall and gang.  The MAGNA’s are Museums & Galleries premier national awards, and celebrate outstanding achievements in the areas of exhibitions, public programs, Indigenous projects, and research.

PAUL STAFFORD, an author and literacy consultant in primary and secondary schools throughout Australia, is one-half of Project Zone. He has seventeen titles, published by Random House and New Holland. Paul’s long-running literacy projects for reluctant boys The Dead Bones Society (a collaboration between Australian Fossil & Mineral Museum 2007-2017) won the 2010 IMAGinE Award and a 2007 NSW Local Government Cultural Award. It’s adaptation to web-based delivery, Scattered Bones, won the 2011 MAGNA (Museums and Galleries National Award), hosted by DART Connections to regional and remote schools. Paul works closely with Bathurst Wiradyuri Elders, including developing and co-anchoring the series Tea with Uncle Bill which linked Uncle Bill Allen to students in schools across NSW via videoconference, enabling students to ask questions and learn about Wiradyuri history, beliefs & lifestyle.

VINCE LOVECCHIO holds a deep passion for community wellbeing and social capacity building. Vince has over thirty years of experience developing community partnerships and facilitating arts-based projects to assist communities and individuals in building their capacity and resilience through connective, inclusive practice. Vince established Community Connect Regional NSW in 2014, a successful community impact and social wellbeing initiative. With an extensive network of partners representing health, education, business and industry, Vince is able to develop community-based initiatives which help engage people in their communities in meaningful and purposeful ways. Vince was the founding director of the Orange Youth Arts Festival (2014 -19) and through the Project Zone has designed and implemented a number of successful whole community initiatives. He also n established filmmaker with broad experience in visual based media having taught and worked extensively in Television, Photography and Film. Vince has won a variety of National and International awards for his work.

“Students were excited and enthused by the realisation that interesting, dramatic and significant events occurred where they live,” Paul Stafford said.

This project was auspiced by Arts OutWest

Locations: Manildra, Borenore, Spring Hill, Cudal, Million Creek           

When: 2017

Funded by: NSW Office of Environment & Heritage’s Community Youth and Seniors Heritage Grants 2016-2017

Artists: Paul Stafford, Vince Loveccio, Miles Wright, David Anitoch

Thanks to: Amusu Theatre, Orange Youth Arts Festival