Discovering a box of her parents’ home movies from the 1980s and 90s led Olivia Tsigaropoulos to the remarkable achievement of her second National History Challenge win in two years.

The Year 10 student at Casimir Catholic College Marrickville created a website on the history of her family and Greek migration to Australia in response to the 2023 prize theme Change and continuity.

The site features a mini-documentary, timeline and an interactive family tree. Each person on the tree links to National Archive of Australia records, filmed interviews, or both. 

Olivia said each of her four grandparents were among the wave of Greek migrants who settled in Marrickville between 1969 and 1971. They were encouraged by government policy which subsidised travel in exchange for work.

“My grandparents were excited to share that part of their life with me,” Olivia said.

“I looked not just at my family, but what society was like at the time. 

“Through all of history, certain things change but what stays the same is people and humanity and love and celebration, and all of those things.

“I really gathered an appreciation for exploring family history.”

The project follows Olivia’s 2022 winning entry to the history challenge a 10-minute documentary on the 1979 community intervention to buy and save Carlton’s Shopfront Theatre.

Olivia’s interest in drama has seen her appear in plays staged by the youth arts cooperative since 2021.

“I love storytelling and being able to make people feel something through something I create,” she said.

“Everything in history has a story. Not all of these stories are told, but they all deserve to be, and they all deserve to be heard.”

About the challenge

The National History Challenge is an annual research-based competition run by the History Teachers’ Association of Australia.

It gives Australian primary and secondary school students a chance to examine their nation’s past, investigate their community or explore their own roots.

For the challenge, students write an essay, create a 3D model, or use medium to present their research in response to a theme.