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Australia, home of the ‘fair go’, but who are the ordinary and extraordinary people who have made our nation what it is today? And how can we learn from their actions? National Archives of Australia asks these questions in its touring exhibition Disrupt, persist, invent: Australians in an ever-changing world.

Now open at the State Library of South Australia this free exhibition profiles the many different and sometimes unexpected ways people have pushed for change in Australia.

Director State Library of South Australia, Geoff Strempel, says,

“We are pleased to be partnering with the National Archives of Australia to bring this important exhibition to the community of South Australia. Using archival records, objects, audio-visual material and video portraits, the exhibition highlights 28 inspiring ways that Australians have changed the world and how the Commonwealth has responded to these social, political, and technological changes.”

Exhibition curator Ms Catriona Donnelly explains,

“The catalyst for social change might arise from a significant event or through likeminded people campaigning for a common cause. They are passionate, determined and often prepared to put their bodies on the line to achieve their objectives.”

Disrupt, persist, invent highlights stories illustrating how change has impacted our society. This exhibition’s most compelling message is that change takes a tremendous investment of time and energy but that people’s sustained actions over time really can make a difference.

“The exhibition is arranged not by the cause or campaign, but by how the change was effected. This could be through noisy protests or by quiet persistence. Themes, such as women’s rights, environmental campaigns, First Nations rights and equality, run as undercurrents, however the focus is on how the change was achieved,” said Ms Donnelly.

National Archives Director-General Simon Froude said,

“This exhibition calls upon many records held by National Archives, records that help to tell the important stories that have shaped our nation.”

“If there is one takeaway from this exhibition, it is that the simplest of acts really can inspire others. It is often the stories of quiet persistence, innovation and creativity that resonate just as loudly as public protests.”

The exhibition is developed by National Archives of Australia and supported by Visions of Australia and the National Collecting Institutions Touring and Outreach Program.

Disrupt, persist, invent: Australians in an ever-changing world is now open and continues until Sunday 11 August 2024.

For more information about visit Disrupt, persist, invent.


On display now until Sunday 11 August 2024

Monday: 9am to 5pm
Tuesday: 9am to 7pm
Wednesday to Friday: 9am to 5pm
Saturday and Sunday: 12 to 5pm (closed public holidays)

Where: State Library of South Australia, Gallery, Cnr North Terrace and Kintore Avenue

Cost: Free entry


Mark Gilbert
Exhibitions, Media & Marketing Librarian

State Library of South Australia
T: 08 7424 6187
M: 0403 934 678


The State Library of South Australia is the largest public research library in the state and among the most iconic cultural institutions in South Australia. It is home to the historic Mortlock Wing which is consistently voted among the most beautiful libraries in the world.

As custodians of stories, the State Library of South Australia welcomes over half a million visitors a year and plays a significant role in collecting, preserving and making accessible the State’s history for current and future generations to enjoy, experience and learn from.

Open 7 days a week, the State Library of South Australia provides 24/7 access that connects people to resources including research and information services. It also hosts events, exhibitions, and curated programs to enrich access to its collections.


The National Archives of Australia collects Australian Government records, preserves them, manages them and makes them public. They do this so everyone can access evidence of government decisions and actions, making them transparent and accountable.

The records connect you with the stories and people that define our past, shape our future and help safeguard our democracy.

National Archives also provides leadership and support to Australian Government employees working in information management. To do this, they set standards for digital transformation, information and data management and records security. They also actively contribute to developing global practice in this field.

Download the media release