Australian Information Service

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The Australian Information Service was one of a series of federal government organisations created to promote the image of Australia. The agency existed from 1973 to 1986.

The Department of Information was created in 1947 to promote the Australian lifestyle and Australian events overseas, particularly to intending post-war migrants

In 1950 the agency was renamed the Australian News and Information Bureau (ANIB). In 1973, under the Whitlam Government, it was again renamed as the Australian Information Service.

The Department of Information was established to ‘undertake the large publicity campaign necessary to support Australia’s war effort’. This campaign was centred principally on increasing and sustaining the people’s faith in the cause for which they were fighting, and sought to gain support for the government’s security and fundraising activities and distribute ‘sound’ facts on the war and its progress.

The activities of the Department were extensive and various, and when, in 1981, two packets of ‘historical’ photographs of a rural Victorian town were returned to Australia by the New York office of the Australian Information Service, a small example of those activities came to light.

Wartime parting of a family, Drouin, Victoria by Jim Fitzpatrick 1916-

The photographs were taken by Jim Fitzpatrick, an official war photographer with the A.I.S., who was sent in 1944 to document the impact of the war on the population of the dairying town of Drouin. The 88 photographs that the Drouin Collection comprises focus on the town's people as a community and also on a more personal level. There are portraits of individuals and family groups, photographs of people working and socialising and images of the town going about its business. We learn from the extended captions still attached to most of the photographs people’s names, ages, occupations, their fathers’ occupations, whether they are married or not, and what their hopes are for the future. The people of Drouin are portrayed with an unusual degree of freedom and candour made possible, perhaps, because Fitzpatrick knew that his portrait of the town was not intended for Australian eyes. For Fitzpatrick’s assignment was part of an extensive publicity campaign to convince our allies, particularly the Americans, that we were ‘shouldering our full share of the burdens of war’.

In 1986, the Australian Information Service was renamed as Promotion Australia and in 1987 it became the Australian Overseas Information Service (AOIS). In 1994 the AOIS became a branch in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: the International Public Affairs Branch.[1]


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