Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage: Preservation, pressures and workable policy
Professor Hilary Du Cros, E. G. Whitlam Research Fellow
A lunchtime symposium delivered at the Whitlam Institute on Tuesday 19 February 2019.
Professor du Cros research presentation included a discussion of the urgent need for up-to-date national mapping of sites of historical and cultural significance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Formerly maintained by the Australian Heritage Commission on the Register of the National Estate, these functions were devolved to state level in 2004, and the Register closed off in 2007. During this transition, several important research files and reports went missing.
According to Professor du Cros, the closure of the Register of the National Estate was an inflection point for the preservation and cultural appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sites in Australia.
“Sharing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage with the wider community has become more difficult because there is less information to help explain the stories and significance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders places, which is what builds connections in our society.”
“The lack of a comprehensive national register backed by an adequate database also places us in a difficult position with the international community. For example, we are currently unable to measure our national management practices against international benchmarks or the effects of climate change on our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage places.