2020–21 Annual Plan Report

Final report

Program story

Contracting an inaugural Wikimedia Australia Executive Officer
Executive Officer Caddie Brain

After nearly 13 years operating with only a volunteer committee, 2020-21 saw a significant milestone for the Wikimedia movement in Australia with the contracting of WMAU’s first staff member, a Community Support and Outreach Coordinator.

In order to grow, increase partnerships and professionalise its operations, WMAU required additional support to coordinate its community development and outreach work. Since the chapter was established in 2007, the small managing committee has carried responsibility for governance, community engagement activities and communications. While successful to this point, the committee had reached the limit of its ability to continue to grow operations on an entirely volunteer basis.

The Community Support and Outreach Coordinator role was a three-month short-term contract position approximately 15 hours per week that managed communications, volunteer engagement and development, and general administration for the WMAU committee and wider community. At the midterm review of progress against the WMAU Annual Plan 2020-21, there were many identified activities within the budget that could not proceed due to COVID-19 pandemic-related travel restrictions. WMAU reallocated AUD$10,000 to establish the Community Support and Outreach Coordinator. This pilot funding enabled both the committee and the coordinator to establish working arrangements and informed WMAU’s annual plan and budget for 2021-22.

WMAU contracted experienced Wikimedian Caddie Brain, who is well-recognised in the community and familiar with Wikimedia Australia events and operations, to establish the duties and procedures within the interim role. Caddie Brain (she/her) is an independent creative technologist, producer and former journalist. She began Wikiclub NT, a monthly editing club in the Northern Territory that effectively doubled the number of pages for that region and established Know My Name, a partnership with the National Gallery of Australia. She has also produced radio, exhibitions, augmented reality audio tours, machine learning prototypes, Wikipedia editing clubs and recently supported Arrernte young people, artists and linguists to make their own emoji set. She has worked is public programs and exhibitions across the GLAM sector and recently completed a Master in Applied Cybernetics.

Key deliverables of the Coordinator role included:

  • Development and implementation of a three-year Communication Strategy
  • Management and growth of of WMAU’s social media channels
  • Planned implementation of the redevelopment and redesign of the WMAU website
  • Production of regular newsletters (every two months) for members and partners
  • Management of WMAU's brand and visual identity, including the design and production of printed materials and merchandise
  • Organisation of facilitation and/or support of 18 online and face-to-face events for WMAU and its partners
  • Established new partnerships acting as a main point of contact both for the partner organisation and volunteers involved
  • Managed monthly committee meetings, providing agenda preparation, reports and updates
  • Facilitated and supported 1Lib1Ref and Wiki Loves Earth campaigns

Overall this was a very successful initiative which has significantly expanded the administrative and outreach capabilities of Wikimedia Australia and one we plan to continue.

Learning story

Pivoting to online events
Online drop-in sessions for 1Lib1Ref 2021 in Australia

The ongoing travel and social distancing requirements in Australia due to COVID-19 has kicked off a rich period of experimentation and model development for virtual, online and hybrid training training, meetup and community events. WMAU found success with both formal presentation models, edit-a-thons and casual drop-in sessions. Even beyond the acute phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, WMAU intends to continue to offer both a mix of online and face-to-face (but no hybrid) events.

Key learnings from across these sessions include:

  • Use of a more complex video conferencing system such as Zoom enables fuller control and management of participants.
  • Multiple facilitators should be made hosts in order to better manage participants and ensure calls continue if the host loses connectivity for some reason. This also ensures participants are all able to move into break out rooms with different facilitators depending on their level and interests.
  • Sessions required a minimum of two hours, but a maximum of three hours. An hour-long event only allows enough time for an information session but not significant editing.
  • Online events avoid many of the shared IP issues experienced in face-to-face events.
  • Introducing and encouraging editing in just one Wikimedia platform is recommended (i.e. editing in English Wikipedia only, not simultaneously introducing Wikimedia Commons as well for new users)
  • For an online edit-a-thon (not an information session) around 30 participants is the maximum number to create community and intimacy while ensuring that participants are adequately supported.
  • An Acknowledgement of Country is essential at the beginning of each event. As participants are often geographically dispersed, they can also be invited to post the Traditional Country from which they are joining the call into the chat.
  • Welcoming participants to include their pronouns in their video name also ensures inclusivity and safe spaces for a diverse range of participants.
  • Online edit-a-thons run best when supported by multiple experienced Wikipedians (ideally a minimum of three).
  • Inviting participants to share their usernames allows a record of participants and/or an easy way to load editors into a Dashboard. The Dashboard provides a way of staying in touch and tracking participant progress over time.
  • The chat function is a useful tool for enabling participants to quickly post questions without interrupting the flow of a presentation.
  • Editing counts are generally less than face to face events. Many participants do not have access to multiple screens so following the video instruction and editing simultaneously can be challenging for many participants.
  • Slides can be a useful tool to provide participants an introduction to Wikipedia and the WIkimedia movement. Although live demonstration of Wikipedia editing through a screen-sharing function is preferred to slides.
  • Preparation is key. Offering participants a range of suggested content to work on ensures a smoother event. Use of a shared spreadsheet avoids edit conflicts and ensures ease of communication between participants. Providing participants the option of working on existing pages as well as new pages is critical considering the limitations of online instruction.
  • Once an introduction has been provided, offering participants a range of Breakout rooms, each of which is supported by an experienced Wikipedian enables a greater level of support for participants with different skills and interests. or example, use of the main room for new editors, provision of a room for experienced editors to undertake communal editing and having a few breakout rooms ready for one-on-one instruction for users that may require a higher level of support.
  • Online edit-a-thons offer a greater opportunity to reach a more diverse and geographically dispersed range of participants.
  • Wide advertising of meeting links may generate potentially unwelcome or inappropriate drop-ins into calls.
  • Hybrid events with both a face to face component as well as online participants are not preferred. They require a greater level of support and offer a poorer experience for both kinds of participants.

Programs Impact

|programcontent= The key goal this year is to engage directly with current and emerging editors in Australia. We have converted to online events for WikiClubs, training events and meetups and online community meetings.


Wikiclub activities were significantly impacted by COVID-19 restrictions across Australia. Lockdowns in major cities and risks to vulnerable populations in regional and remote areas limited most events, engagement and travel around Australia. Much of the funding available for these activities was diverted to the Community Support and Outreach Coordinator position.

State-based WikiClubs had the opportunity to move to online meetups, and four clubs successfully pivoted to online edit-a-thons and meet ups that ran throughout 2020-21. These included:

Women Write Wiki (WWW)

One of Australia’s longest running editing clubs celebrated four years in March 2021. They have been meeting twice each month at The Women’s Library in the inner-Sydney suburb of Newtown, to write about Australian women authors represented in the library. At this time, just 16 per cent of articles on English Wikipedia were about women. By March 2021, the group was celebrating four years of editing, activism and friendship, during which they estimate they’ve now created over 300 new pages on Australian and New Zealand women. Their efforts form part of Women in Red and Art+Feminism, whose work to increase the visibility and representation of women on Wikimedia platforms has seen the number of pages about women grow to nearly 19 per cent as of March 2021. WWW pivoted to online meet-ups as of April 2020 and are now transitioning back to physical meet-ups (COVID-19 restrictions permitting).

Women’s Art Register

Despite five lockdowns in Melbourne since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Women’s Art Register wikiclub managed to hold three edit-a-thons - a meetup on 12 November 2020, an event on 6 March 2021 at Richmond Library in Melbourne as part of a suite of national events for International Women's Day and Wiki Wednesday event on 16 June 2021. Coordinated by Caroline Phillips with support from Wikipedian Pru Mitchell, the edit-a-thon draws on Australia’s living archive at the Women’s Art Register, which features documentation of over 5000 artists housed at the Richmond Library in Melbourne.


Also joining the gender diversity campaign in March was a month-long editing effort from Women in Earth and Environmental Sciences in Australasia (WOMEESA), who after an initial online training session with Wikimedia Australia, spent a month working on the pages of renowned women in earth and environmental sciences.

Women in Religion

2021 saw the launch of the Women in Religion project. It responds to the underrepresentation of women in religion on Wikipedia, who experience similar levels of bias as other areas, making up just 18 per cent of all biographies. To address this, WMAU is partnering with the University of Divinity in Melbourne led by librarian Kerrie Burn of the Mannix Library to form an Australian contribution to the international 1000 Women in Religion Project that originated in the United States. After an initial edit-a-thon in March 2021, a weekly online meetup is now on every Wednesday offering training and supported editing with Pru Mitchell.

Noongarpedia and Curtin University

Nys colours with en gnangarra

2020-21 saw the development of a new phase of the Noongarpedia incubator project first launched in 2016, an Indigenous language portal in the Noongar language of south west Australia. Indigenous content projects like this are essential in promoting knowledge equity and remains a best practice model for Indigenous language partnerships in Australia, and globally. To continue to grow content for Noongarpedia, funding supplied to Curtin University enabled a set of workshops coordinated by Wikimedian Gnangarra in November 2020. Cultural oversight was provided by Ingrid Cumming, who ensured the accuracy of the language, spelling and audio recordings by Karla Hat and Maitland Schnar with the Nelson and Bartlett Families. Fourteen videos were developed featuring multiple themed sets of words for each video such as colours, body parts etc. These videos were uploaded to Wikimedia Commons in February 2021, and integrated into Wikidata and English Wikipedia.

Mini Grants Volunteer Support Program

Each year WMAU offers a flexible, responsive mini grants programme for Australian contributors to obtain resources or share their knowledge about the projects and/or WMAU activities. In 2020-21, six applications were received, with five grants successfully granted.

Visualising Australian Honours - Kelly Tall

In February 2021, a WMAU mini grant supported researchers Heather Ford, Tamson Pietsch and Kelly Tall from University of Technology Sydney’s School of Communication who were researching the relationship between Wikipedia and the Order of Australia to understand who is recognised and who isn’t. Across all levels of the Honours, only 11% of recipients have a Wikipedia biography, but the Order announcement is an important signal for establishing notability on Wikipedia, and there is a discernible spike in page creation in the week the awards are announced. The project resulted in an illustrated data essay entitled Producing distinction: Wikipedia and the Order of Australia, A visual essay, an academic paper and news article comparing these two systems of recognising notability of Australians.

Coordination of projects in WA universities - Gnangarra

In 2020-21, Gnangarra was supported in the purchasing of essential equipment such as a laptop to support the growth, coordination and engagement with GLAM sector and tertiary institutions in Western Australia through events and presentations. Despite limitations to physical events due to ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns, partnerships were initiated with Curtin University, the Seniors Recreation Council of WA, the Historical Encyclopaedia of WA, and University of Western Australia Archaeology Department. The equipment also supported the ongoing Noongarpedia development and the coordination of Wikimania 2021. Read more.

University of Sydney Write Women - Dr Bunty Avieson

Senior Lecturer at the Department of Media and Communications Dr Bunty Avieson was supported in running a Write Women edit-a-thon at the University of Sydney on 8 March 2021, on International Women’s Day. The event provided training and support for 16 new and experienced editors. The funding supported facilitation for the event and light catering.

Art+Feminism Laptop Stickers - Caroline Phillips

Each year, WMAU supports edit-a-thons around Australia to reduce the gender gap on Wikipedia. Recent years have brought a focus on women artists and creators as part of the Know My Name and Art+Feminism movement. In order to support these ongoing programs, Caroline Phillips of Art+Feminism and the Women’s Art Register was supported in producing 500 vinyl Art+Feminism laptop stickers to offer to participants at events and to encourage participation, support and visibility of the Art+Feminism movement around Australia.

Wikimedia Australia pilot internship - James Gaunt

The development of a pilot WMAU internship program for tertiary students is underway, supported through a mini grant. The stipend was provided to RMIT journalist James Gaunt to work with WMAU one day per week from June until October 2021 to help establish and road-test the pilot program, relevant documentation and workflows. The internship is also enabling James an opportunity to research and publish case studies on the WMAU website, write resources and internal communications, support WMAU events and workshop activities with partner organisations and contribute to ongoing research projects.

Support for engagement in regional and global events

As for chapters across the world, 2020-21 presented many challenges to the Wikimedia movement globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel for global events and opportunities simply wasn’t possible due to border restrictions, therefore funding was instead diverted into establishing the Community Support and Outreach Coordinator role. This staff member, as well as WMAU committee members and key community members continued to enthusiastically contribute to and lead regional and international initiatives over 2020-21. These included:

  • WMAU committee and community members were regular attendees, presenters and occasional chairs of the East, South East, Asia, Pacific (ESEAP) regional network meetings
  • Former WMAU President and Wikimedian Gnangarra is a member of the organising committee of the first fully online Wikimania on from 13 - 17 August 2021.
  • WMAU has worked closely to support the new Wikimedia User Group of Aotearoa New Zealand in its first year. As well as ongoing attendance and support from Australian Wikipedians at its events and monthly meetups, WMAU officially partnered with Wikimedia User Group of Aotearoa New Zealand librarians for a joint 1Lib1Ref campaign this year co-hosting six drop-in sessions over the three weeks of the campaign from 15 May until 6 June 2021. Library professionals across Australia and New Zealand added 1650 new citations to Wikipedia in just three weeks. WMAU also supported the production of promotional Wikimedia User Group of Aotearoa New Zealand stickers for use at its conferences in 2021.

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Spending update

A detailed budget can be seen here.

Total expenditure: US$24,117.43/AU$32,511.38

Grant Metrics Reporting

Metrics, targets and results: grants metrics worksheet here.

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