Blue Shield Australia is a member of the international Blue Shield organisation, set up in 1996 to work to protect the world’s cultural heritage threatened by disasters of all types. Blue Shield acts as the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross internationally.
The work of Blue Shield Culture contributes to UN Sustainable Development Goal 11. Target 11.4 aims to “strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage”.
In the lead-up to the 2019 Australian disaster season ALIA and BlueShield Australia, of which ALIA is a founder member, have updated the ALIA Disaster Management for Libraries Guide.
Blue Shield internationally
Following the Second World War, UNESCO adopted the Hague Convention (1954) which created rules to protect cultural goods during armed conflicts. This Convention was the first international treaty aimed at protecting cultural heritage in the context of war. The Blue Shield is the symbol used to identify cultural sites protected by this Convention.
Blue Shield covers museums and archives, audiovisual supports, libraries, and monuments and sites. It brings together the knowledge, experience and international networks of the following non-governmental organisations dealing with cultural heritage:
ICA: International Council on Archives (Council of Australasian Archives and Records Authorities)
ICOM: International Council of Museums (ICOM Australia)
IFLA: International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (ALIA)
ICOMOS: International Council on Monuments and Sites (Australia ICOMOS)
CCAAA: Coordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations
Blue Shield Australia
Since 2005, Blue Shield Australia has provided a united voice for cultural institutions, galleries, libraries, archives, museums, historical societies, monuments and sites. Activities include:
- Cross-sector conferences for industry leaders and policy makers at the Australian War Memorial (2010) and National Library of Australia (2018) www.blueshieldaustralia.org.au/symposium
- Australian Government funded disaster planning events in regional Australia for industry practitioners, local government and emergency services (2012)
- Annual national MayDay campaign promoting disaster preparedness, aligned with international peers
- Support for Asia-Pacific neighbours (NZ and Japan) in their development of Blue Shield committees
- BSA helped seed GLAM Peak, an industry body which has successfully delivered Catalyst (Arts) funded digital access to collections programs and worked with the Australian Government to achieve necessary copyright law reform (2017 and ongoing)