The Birth of a Life Story Association

The Power of Professional Dialogue in a Life Story Association

The power of professional dialogue in a Life Story Association enables us to create the future we hope for and time allows us to modify it accordingly.

Professional dialogue is embedded in the professional standards and assumed skills of any professional. It is acknowledged that learning takes place over time and requires opportunities to link acquired knowledge with new skills and standards.

This is especially true of life story writers, personal historians, memoir writers, ghost writers, biographers, film makers and all others involved in life stories.  The language and professional dialogue among professionals involved in producing a permanent record of a person can be quite diverse.

Life Story Association in Australia

In Australia, we are struggling to birth an association that is reflective of all professionals involved in the preserving of life stories. The struggle has progressed over several months since the collapse of the Association of Personal Historians and plays out in weekly meetings over SKYPE. The movement is presently sitting on the verge of an evolution in Australia where many professionals can be brought together to represent the community dedicated to life story telling.

The dialogue has been an issue of the Association from the name through to membership and other issues and many lively discussions have followed. The term Life Stories Australia, Inc. seems a good fit and continues to provide an umbrella for the potential membership.

Recently, I met an end of life doula, a beautiful young woman who provides physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual support to families and individuals facing death. We were drawn to each other because many doulas provide family history documentation to their clients.  It opened my mind to the fact that life story professionals are everywhere and we need to be open and flexible in our interpretation of the term.

I have since learned much of the culture and language of end of life doulas or death doulas as they are sometimes called and I am struck by their professional language, professional education, and community education. I think I actually find it inspirational that a profession such as this has developed and is nibbling away at such an important and private part of an individual’s existence.

The Body of Knowledge in a Life Story Association

Opening up and developing the professional dialogue of the international life story community will be a hallmark development in this wonderful profession. In Australia, we continue to nut out meanings and interpretations. Our diverse backgrounds add to the colour and culture of our efforts and professional respect is always present.

A lack of a centralised body of knowledge in an academic institution is a two-sided discussion. A local university offers a course on one aspect of family history but there are many aspects to a competent life story professional and it would be disappointing to confine future life story professionals to a narrow pathway.  The future may change my view on this and with the concept of Open Universities, I guess it is a possibility.

Evidencing a professional standard is an important step in professional development and continual commitment to ongoing education and openness to new knowledge is, in my view, more important than an academic based centralised course.

A barrier here in Australia to new knowledge from many incredible international professionals is the exchange rate of the Australia dollar. It means that international courses are expensive for us and the real cost of an international course causes my accountant to flinch each year.

Professional Language in a Life Story Association

The professional language is the key to establishing the future of life story professionals. Universal language has not proved a problem for many international professions and so it will not for this profession.

Australia is in its infancy and we are embracing the birth of our new Association with openness and anticipation. We hope to set a standard that is reflective of the high standards in our specialty as we seek and respond to new boundaries and challenges.

Life Story Association

Hopefully, one day, someone will say Life Stories Australia, Inc. is inspirational and I will be proud to say I was a foundation member of that association.

Rose Osborne

Write My Journey

Rose is a foundation member of Life Stories Australia, Inc. and previous chair of Oceania Group, APH