Recognising and protecting the places and stories that make Australia special
Your heritage online news
Department of the Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Issue 5, March 2012
On this page
- Foreword from the Australian Heritage Council Chair
- A report card on Australia's heritage: State of the Environment 2011
- Australia is proud of our achievements on the UNESCO World Heritage Committee
- Celebrating 400 years of Dutch–Australian shared heritage
- Event registrations open for Australian Heritage Week 2012
- Helen Lardner welcomed onto the Australian Heritage Council
- Working in partnership to ensure a safe and well managed Kokoda Track
- National Heritage listing for a site of ancient Indigenous culture – the Jordan River Levee
- Outcomes of the Australian Heritage Council meeting December 2012
- Sydney Harbour Bridge turns 80 years old
- Tributes to Adjunct Professor Sharon Sullivan AO
With Australian Heritage Week 2012 fast approaching (it runs from 12 to 20 April), the dedicated website is filling with events throughout Australia. When I looked through the site that the department is hosting it was clear that many communities are planning and hosting interesting activities. For example the Rottnest Island Voluntary Guides Association in WA is holding 'Collecting memories' for a whole week on the island. Visitors will be able to listen to oral history recordings and learn about how memories are collected, as well as see historic photographs.
Prof. Carmen Lawrence, Chair, Australian Heritage Council
An innovative online photographic exhibition and competition is being run by Horse SA. Horse riders from anywhere in Australia can submit photographs of rides or carriage rides through the South Australian landscape, to be featured on www.horsesa.asn.au .
In New South Wales, many activities planned for Sutherland feature on the Heritage Week website. A tour of Woronora Cemetary on 14 April will include areas of historic interest, and free horse and carriage rides.
And for Jane Austen tragics, there's the Jane Austen Festival market day at St John's historic church in Canberra, also on 14 April, where visitors can promenade (many in Regency costume) and perhaps buy some materials to make their next bonnet!
You will find all those activities and many more at www.heritage-week.govspace.gov.au Organisations can of course download the Australian Heritage Week logo to help market their activities.
The National Heritage Council is farewelling Sharon Sullivan and we thank her for her many years of outstanding contribution to the work of the heritage sector. We welcome a new council member, Helen Lardner, who is profiled in this issue of Living Heritage.
Australian-Dutch Heritage Day on 21 February 2012 marked the beginning of a series of anniversaries for the Dutch-Australian shared maritime heritage and a four-year lead-up to the major anniversary in 2016, when the Netherlands and Australia will celebrate 400 years since Dirk Hartog nailed a pewter plate to a post at Cape Inscription. He was, as many Australians know, the first European to leave behind an artefact marking his visit. Be sure to read the article in Living Heritage from the department's dedicated team of shipwreck specialists.
Together let's celebrate our national heritage!
Professor Carmen Lawrence
Australian Heritage Council Chair
Australia's recently released State of the Environment 2011 (SOE 2011) reports that the condition and integrity of Australia's diverse natural and cultural heritage are generally in good shape. The report calls on governments, though, to better resource heritage management and to improve the information available, so there is a basis of comprehensive inventories for heritage management action.
State of the Environment report cover
The 100-page Heritage chapter in SOE 2011 – an independent report presented to the Australian Government by the State of the Environment 2011 committee – outlines Australia's heritage lists and processes for listing our natural and cultural heritage treasures, with maps and statistical analysis carefully set out for a lay audience.
Visual mapping, such as that of the National Reserve System across Australia, and bioregional priority rankings, underlines the report's call for a whole-of-landscape approach to addressing heritage management regimes.
The richness and vital importance of Australia's Indigenous heritage is marked throughout the report with, for example, almost all national parks including significant Indigenous heritage places. The report calls for a proactive approach to surveying and assessing Indigenous heritage resources where there has been a tendency to survey in response to development proposals.
There are case studies throughout the heritage section of SOE 2011, illustrating the breadth and diversity of the sector, from the Tjibruke dreaming trails in the Kaurna lands of South Australia, to the 2011 listing of the Yongala shipwreck site off Townsville in Queensland. Again, these help make a report heavy on statistical information accessible to a wide audience.
A case study on the conservation of the Brennan and Geraghty store in Maryborough, Queensland, funded by the Australian Government, draws attention to the importance of sustaining heritage skills on the part of local tradespeople in a heritage tourism destination.
All Australians have an interest in our heritage, whether local, regional, national or internationally significant; the SOE 2011 includes salient criticisms and a no-holds-barred outline of risks to our heritage, but also illustrates some sound outcomes and a passion and commitment to our heritage by governments, non-government organisations, volunteers, and heritage professionals such as local heritage advisers.
The General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention is a gathering of all 188 members of the World Heritage Convention. Every two years, member states and associate members, together with observers from non-member states, intergovernmental organisations and NGOs, get together to set the amount of state party contributions to the World Heritage Fund and elect the members of the World Heritage Committee.
A tourist at the World Heritage-listed Cascades Female Factory Historic Site in Hobart, Tasmania
Photo: Dragi Marcovic, DSEWPAC
Australia's four-year term (2007 to 2011) on the UNESCO World Heritage Committee officially ended at the 18th session of the General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention in November 2011, held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, where nine of the 21 committee members were replaced.
Australia considers that our key achievement during our term was to introduce and lead a process to reflect on and redefine the future of the convention.
Australia worked with Bahrain, Brazil, China, Japan, Thailand and Senegal, and the effort resulted in the adoption of a Strategic Action Plan for the World Heritage Convention 2012-2022.
Thirty-five state parties spoke in support of the work Australia has done to focus the convention on ensuring its long term credibility.
Australia believes that our term on the committee has enhanced our reputation as an international leader in strengthening the integrity of the convention and in contributing expertise to improve the policies that conserve World Heritage.
New members of the committee, such as India, Algeria and Malaysia, are following the ‘Australian' model, in which heritage experts lead our committee activities.
An outline of Australia's achievements during its term on the committee can be found at www.environment.gov.au/heritage/about/world/index.html
Functions of the World Heritage Committee
World Heritage listing brings considerable prestige and economic benefits, so there is considerable interest from state parties to be members of the committee.
Members of the World Heritage Committee decide on the inscription of new properties to the World Heritage List and List of World Heritage in Danger, monitor the implementation of the convention, including the state of conservation of listed properties and administer the World Heritage Fund.
Committee members make decisions on behalf of the non-committee signatories to the convention. They have an obligation to make decisions on objective and scientific considerations. However, the implementation of the convention is entrusted to political authorities.
A committee member's term of office is officially six years, but most state parties choose voluntarily to be members of the committee for only four years, in order to give other states parties more opportunities. There is also an agreement that a country will not stand for back-to-back committee terms.
The General Assembly's mandate has expanded to discussing critical strategic issues related to the future direction of the convention. At the 2009 meeting Australia led a discussion on the future of the convention, with our proposal for an approach to address these issues co-signed by 42 state parties and passed unanimously.
Building on the example set at that assembly, the 2011 meeting discussed the outcomes of the Australian-led ‘futures process' and also considered a report on the implementation of the Global Strategy for a Balanced, Credible and Representative World Heritage List. Both discussions highlighted a number of key limitations in the current implementation of the convention. The discussion on both, however, was encouraging in terms of a general agreement for reform.
The 2012-14 Committee
The 21 states parties of the current World Heritage Committee are:
- Russian Federation
- South Africa
- United Arab Emirates
The Chairperson of the Committee is Her Excellency Mrs Mitrofanova Eleonora from the Russian Federation, who will host the next World Heritage Committee meeting in Saint Petersburg in June-July 2012.
On the 21st February 2012 the Western Australian Museum in Fremantle hosted celebrations for Australian-Dutch Heritage Day. Three hundred years since the wrecking of the Zuytdorp on 31 May 1712 off the Western Australian coast, the day marked the commencement of a four-year lead-up to a major anniversary in 2016, when the Netherlands and Australia will celebrate 400 years since Dirk Hartog nailed a pewter plate to a post at Cape Inscription, the first European to leave behind an artefact marking their visit.
Reconstructed remains of the stern of the Dutch ship Batavia, wrecked off the coast of Western Australia in 1629
Photo: Courtesy Western Australian Museum
Sponsored by the Netherlands Embassy, the Australian-Dutch Heritage Day was attended by members of the public, business community representatives, academics, and state and federal government officials.
The Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, H.E. Willem Andreae, launched the workshop and also a new Dutch-Australian online platform, www.culturalheritageconnections.org The website has information about hundreds of projects, experts and organisations in the Australian-Dutch mutual heritage field, and results from work performed by the Centre for International Heritage Activities, based in the Dutch university town of Leiden.
The heritage day was packed with presentations, workshops and panel discussions focusing on articulating the extent of the mutual Dutch-Australian joint history and ongoing projects. Panel discussions centred around three main topics:
- whether there is a need for a formal bilateral heritage agreement
- how to ensure sustainability, continuation and institutionalisation of the mutual heritage cooperation
- how to create a concrete and working framework for 2016, from incentive to implementation.
Gratitude paid to two committed shipwrecks volunteers
A big part of the Australian Dutch Heritage Day was thanking two stalwarts of the Australian Netherlands Committee on Old Dutch Shipwrecks (ANCODS) who recently retired. Dr John Bach OAM and Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Bolton AO had each represented Australia on the committee for 39 years.
Dr Bach and Professor Bolton had jointly attended 12 full meetings of the ANCODS committee and numerous smaller meetings which enabled the equitable distribution of artefacts from the four old Dutch vessels and set an agreeable tone for ongoing meetings and discussions.
The department's Assistant Secretary, Heritage,Theo Hooy said, “The amicable way they worked with the Dutch counterparts to fulfil the requirements of the committee directly helped to foster stronger relations between the Australian and Netherlands Governments on our shared heritage.
“We are very grateful to Dr Bach and Professor Bolton for facilitating the repatriation of Dutch artefacts back to Australia in 2010, in the largest-ever cultural gift to Australia of shipwreck material.
“Their lengthy and very welcome presence on the committee must surely be setting a record for volunteer participation on a Commonwealth committee,” Mr Hooy said.
The function of the four-person ANCODS committee is to determine the ownership and subsequent disposition between the Netherlands, Australia and the State of Western Australia of the artefacts recovered from Dutch shipwrecks off the coast of Western Australia. The ANCODS agreement was signed on 6 November 1972 and covers the four known Dutch shipwrecks found off the coast of Western Australian: Zuytdorp (1712); Batavia (1629); Vergulde Draeck (more commonly known as the Gilt Dragon) (1656); and Zeewyk (1727). All these ships were formally owned by the Dutch East India Company or Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC).
While the vast majority of ANCODS artefacts are now stored in the Western Australian Museum, with a small collection at the Australian National Maritime Museum, the committee's function stays very relevant, as shown by a panel discussion during the heritage day which focussed on new evidence in regards to the Aagtekerke (1726) one of three other old Dutch ships that are known to have disappeared between the Cape of Good Hope and Batavia (currently known as Jakarta, Indonesia) and whom have not yet been located.
Research presented on the day not only indicated that the Aagtekerke (1726) could possibly be in Australian waters but that a number of other previously unknown Dutch vessels could also be in our waters. Over the coming years the maritime archaeology department at the Western Australian Museum will take the lead in searching for these shipwrecks as part of their ongoing survey of Australia's shipwreck heritage on the west coast under the Commonwealth Historic Shipwreck Program.
For more on the department's heritage shipwreck activities see www.environment.gov.au/heritage/shipwrecks/index.html
Dancers at the 2011 Jane Austen Festival
Photo: Courtesy Stephen Shaw
Event registrations are now open for Australian Heritage Week—an annual celebration of Australia's unique natural and cultural heritage to be held from Saturday 14 April to Sunday 22 April this year.
During Australian Heritage Week communities can share in the celebration of our historic, Indigenous and natural heritage and reflect on the stories and places that shape Australia's diverse cultural identity.
It is also a special time to recognise the efforts of individuals, communities and volunteers who work tirelessly to protect and conserve Australia's unique heritage.
If you are planning to host an event for Australian Heritage Week you are welcome to register it on the Australian Heritage Week website.
Events could include festivals, open days, exhibitions, tours, celebrations and information sessions.
Coffee with the Cannons in the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens, Victoria, Heritage Week 2011
Photo: LJ Gervasoni
Last year, more than 300 events were held across Australia and events covered themes as diverse as transportation, architecture, agriculture, maritime history, genealogy, cemeteries, Australian personalities, sport, women, gold rushes and surfing.
Registering your event on the website is a great way to publicise your event and visitors to the website can find event locations near them. You can also upload a photo to the website to advertise your event.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you require any help with the online registration process or have any questions.
To find out what events are happening near you this year, or to register an event check out the website at
The Australian Heritage Council has welcomed a new member, Helen Lardner, for a three-year term. Ms Lardner brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the council, having run a heritage consultancy in Melbourne, her home town, for 20 years.
Helen Lardner in Tokyo in February 2012 where she is working on the Kyushu Yamaguchi: Emergence of Industrial Japan project
“I was delighted to be invited onto the council, It's an opportunity to be a good advocate for heritage generally, as the council provides great leadership in encouraging Australians to get involved with heritage," said Ms Lardner.
Ms Lardner says that, as an architect by profession, she is particularly keen to ensure that new design is seen as a continuum with what has gone on in the past.
“I'd like people to be aware that design can be enriched by heritage considerations.
“Although an architect by training, I have had a long involvement with different types of heritage. One of my areas of focus is industrial places, and that for me includes the whole landscape and setting, workers' housing, the idea of the workforce and social attachment to places as well as technology, archaeological remains and buildings.
“In my work to date I have been part of teams working on larger projects where people bring a whole range of skills and interests, and that is one thing I look forward to continuing with the council. It will be great to be involved with Indigenous heritage.
“Although I am on the council in a role with specific expertise, I think that often we get the best out of our heritage by considering the way all the areas overlap and where the values are considered for a whole range of reasons.”
Ms Lardner arrives on the council at the beginning of discussions about listing Canberra on the National Heritage List.
Ms Lardner said that she is excited that Canberra is being considered for the National Heritage List.
Canberra's dual role is very interesting – it is a planned city, with its designed vistas and axial relationships, and a very important place in terms of planning. But its symbolic importance is just as significant; the fact that it is the heart of our democracy and the scene of a lot of important events as well as places that people are attached to.”
Ms Lardner said she is looking forward to the work of describing and encapsulating the sort of symbolic importance that people attach to heritage places.
“Often people hold those values very strongly – one of the roles of the Heritage Council is to harness passion that is out there in the community– but it can be quite challenging for people to express. There is of course the physical fabric of a place, but also stories of the past and emotional attachment.”
Ms Lardner's work has taken her overseas, most recently Japan.
“It has been fascinating to go to a place with a quite different story, yet the way you connect with people, what relates to you at home, is very much in common with the rest of the world. There are whole areas of shared values that are drawn out by heritage places.”
Thousands of visitors to Papua New Guinea trek the physically challenging 96 kilometres of the Kokoda Track each year, through dense forest and rugged terrain.
A track conservation work crew preparing to clear fallen trees from the Kokoda Track
Recognising that the Kokoda Track is a shared heritage between the people of Papua New Guinea and Australia, the PNG and Australian governments are committed to working together on the sustainable development of the Owen Stanley Ranges, Brown River Catchment and Kokoda Track Region through the 'Kokoda Initiative'.
A second joint understanding between the two countries was signed in 2010, building on significant progress made under a 2008 joint understanding. PNG and Australia are working to achieve five common goals:
- a safe and well managed Kokoda Track, honouring its wartime historical significance and protects and promotes its other special values
- enhanced quality of life for landowners and communities
- the wise use and conservation of the catchment protection area
- building tourism potential, and
- ensuring sustainability of activities in support of these goals into the future.
A pivotal Kokoda Initiative partner in Papua New Guinea is the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA), which manages the Kokoda Track, collecting and redistributing trekking fees to landowning communities along the Kokoda Track and working with the communities to ensure that the track remains open and safe for trekking.
Under the Kokoda Initiative the Australian Government assists the KTA in its work in the broader Kokoda region. In 2011-12, the Australian Government provided a grant of more than $1.1 million to support the KTA in implementing activities that reduce the physical risk to trekkers and local communities along the Kokoda Track, while maintaining the authenticity of the trekking experience. The funding also helps Kokoda Track communities to start small businesses that generate income from tourism and add value to the trekking experience.
An important part of the Australian Government assistance is helping capacity-build KTA's management role, and KTA's acting grants manager, Michael O'Kave, recently spent a week with the department to learn more about managing Australian Government grant funds.
As well as his grant management work, Mr O'Kave is the KTA's first locally engaged operations manager, having taken over from expatriate Australian advisers funded by the Australian Government under the Kokoda Initiative.
Mr O'Kave worked with departmental staff to learn about the funding arrangements, reporting obligations and managing risk, and to plan future activities to continue the KTA's success in managing the Kokoda Track.
Staff in the International Heritage Section benefited from Mr O'Kave's enthusiasm and detailed knowledge of the Kokoda region, and his visit helped to further strengthen the relationship between the two agencies, a relationship which is fundamental to the success of the Kokoda Initiative.
A highlight of Mr O'Kave's visit was a presentation he gave on the importance of good relationships to working in the Kokoda Track region. Mr O'Kave noted that it is not only the institutional relationships that are important for the Kokoda Initiative, but the KTA's relationships with communities and individuals in the Kokoda region, which have been cultivated over a long period of time. These relationships have meant not only that the landowners along the Kokoda Track have actively supported keeping the track open for trekking, but also that local community members contribute to the upkeep of the track. This upkeep occurs through periodic maintenance carried out under track maintenance agreements between individual villages and the KTA, and KTA-managed track conservation works projects during the off-season, funded by the Australian Government.
One such track conservation works project was under way while Mr O'Kave was in Canberra. KTA rangers under Mr O'Kave's direction, in his capacity as the KTA's operations manager, led crews of village workers to work on over half of the 96 km of the Kokoda Track. The village workers carried out a program of work, which had been agreed with the local landowners during earlier consultations led by Mr O'Kave, including removal of fallen trees, improvement of unsafe sections of track, re-routing unplanned sections of the track to protect significant sites and revegetating degraded areas.
The Jordan River Levee site in southern Tasmania is of outstanding heritage value to the nation, containing ancient evidence of Indigenous lives. Placed on the National Heritage List in December 2011, the site is of special cultural importance to Tasmanian Indigenous people, whose identity was so long officially denied from the late 19th century until the cusp of the 21st century.
Archaeological dig at the Jordan River Levee site
Photo: ABC Open
The area placed on the National Heritage List includes the river Levee bank and its associated archaeological site located on public land along the north northwest parallel of the Jordan River.
An archaeological excavation of the site took place from February 2010 with the permission of Tasmanian Aborigines, following protests at the looming Brighton Bypass, roadworks which, they believed, threatened to disrupt the cultural values of the site. The excavation uncovered exceptional historical and cultural values originally described as the most southerly evidence of early human habitation in Australia. Some of the initial excavation report findings on the age of the artifacts, described as 42,000 BCE, have been contested through peer reviews, but the fact that the site is of great cultural and historical significance to Indigenous Tasmanians is unchallenged.
While the Brighton Bypass is proceeding – an independent federal review found that the cost of re-routing to protect the Jordan River Levee would have been prohibitive – the works have been modified to mitigate some of the impacts of the highway construction.
The Tasmanian and Australian Governments will be working together with the Tasmanian Aboriginal community to develop ongoing arrangements to conserve and interpret the area's national heritage values.
The Jordan River Levee sit was the 98th site to be inscribed on Australia's National Heritage List.
The Australian Heritage Council met in Canberra on 8-9 December 2011, discussing a number of policy issues such as the Australian Heritage Strategy, the 2011 State of the Environment (SOE) report, and emerging assessment, management and protection issues.
The council welcomed its new member, Ms Helen Lardner, whose experience and depth of knowledge will make a great contribution to its work.
The council explored a number of broad areas of policy. The first of these was the need to improve approaches to Indigenous heritage assessment, protection and engagement, which is highlighted in the SOE Report as an area of concern. The council will hold a workshop on Indigenous heritage in 2012.
Heritage sites under pressure was another issue highlighted in the SOE report and the council undertook to ensure that its engagement in the development of the Australian Heritage Strategy has a particular focus on these matters.
Another policy area that the council discussed concerned aesthetics assessment, especially the need to materially advance our thinking on the role aesthetics plays in heritage listings. Though intangible in character, the importance to Australian communities of the aesthetic characteristics of listed places are very real and consideration needs to be given to how this value can be afforded more effective protection. The council will be convening an aesthetics workshop at the next AHC meeting in order to progress the discussion about this important issue.
Developing the Australian Heritage Strategy was also discussed. The council is pleased with the progress being made in developing the strategy and the level of community and key stakeholder engagement in the process. Council Chair Professor Carmen Lawrence attended an Australian and New Zealand Heritage Chairs and Officials meeting in February at which there was significant advancement in building broad support for the strategy and agreement to its scope and reach. The council sees the development of the strategy as a significant opportunity to heighten broad understanding of the importance of heritage and to unify stakeholders in its protection and celebration.
The council also engaged in discussion on better management outcomes for listed places and for the development of an effective monitoring framework which would enable council to gauge the effectiveness of management regimes and identify changes in heritage values and condition. The improved monitoring and management of heritage places was also a matter raised in the State of the Environment Report. This is an area of increasing priority for the council and it is anticipated that in the future the council will develop more specific advice on this.
Planning for Australian Heritage Week 2012 is well advanced and already community groups are promoting events. The council saw that Heritage Week also provides an opportunity to recognise the significant contributions made to heritage conservation by community organisations and individuals.
The assessment of Canberra for possible inclusion in the National Heritage List is progressing well and attracting considerable media attention. Prior to the meeting the council met with the ACT Heritage Council to discuss approaches to the assessment. This positive meeting highlighted the significance of this assessment to the Australian and ACT communities and to recognise that inclusion on the NHL would add to the celebration of Canberra's centenary in early 2013.
Work on the nomination of Cape York for World Heritage listing is proceeding apace. The council is looking forward to working with the minister and the department on this exciting project. It is important that Cape York is added to the council's work plan so that a formal National Heritage assessment and consultation process can occur in parallel to the World Heritage nomination.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge celebrated its 80th birthday on Monday 19 March.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is considered the world's greatest arch bridge and is one of Australia's best known and photographed landmarks. An engineering masterpiece, the bridge represented a pivotal step in the development of modern Sydney and an important part of the technical revolution of the 1930s. It was included in the National Heritage List on 19 March 2007.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Photo: Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Affectionately known as the 'Coathanger', construction of the bridge represented a new era for Australians and was recognised internationally as a symbol of progress and a vision of a splendid future for the nation.
It has also been the backdrop to many stories important to Australia's heritage – from Captain de Groot stealing Jack Lang's role at the bridge's official opening in 1932 to the Reconciliation Walk in 2000.
To celebrate the Sydney Harbour Bridge's 80th birthday the New South Wales Government has encouraged people to share stories and photos exploring their connection with the bridge online. To read these stories about the bridge from many people who remember the bridge opening 80 years ago visit the Sydney Harbour Bridge 80th anniversary website .
Adjunct Professor Sharon Sullivan AO is retiring from the Australian Heritage Council after a stellar career in cultural heritage management. Sharon has made, and no doubt will continue to make, many significant contributions to the field.
Sharon, then as a co-opted Commissioner, with Dr Bruce Davis (with torch), Australian Heritage Commission Chair, in the Tasmanian forests in 1985.
Sharon Sullivan is a fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, and Australia ICOMOS. She is the Deputy chair of the Port Arthur Historic Site authority, Acting Commissioner in the NSW Land and Environment Court and a member of the Australian Research Council's College of Experts on the Humanities and Creative Arts Panel. She has been Australian Government Leader of Delegation on the World Heritage Committee and was also previously Executive Director of the Australian Heritage Commission.
Internationally respected as an expert on heritage management, Sharon has advised, lectured and trained extensively on approaches to heritage conservation based in understanding and respecting the heritage values of places. She is an Adjunct Professor at both the University of Queensland and University of New England with an Honorary Doctorate from James Cook University. Sharon is also the author of many publications including a widely used university textbook on heritage place conservation and management.
Sharon at a September 1990 meeting of the Australian Heritage Commission in Perth when Pat Galvin was the Chair. (DSEWPaC)
Sharon is a Director of Sullivan Blazejowski and Associates, Heritage Consultants working on a range of cultural heritage issues including the implementation of the China principles, and the development of a heritage master planning model for China. She has done consulting work for the World Monuments Fund (Cambodia), ICCROM (Africa), the Getty Conservation Institute (Africa and China) and the former Commonwealth Department of Environment and Heritage and its various subsequent iterations (China).
Sharon has a long and continuing interest in working with Indigenous people to further the conservation of Indigenous heritage places, including initiation of the first agency supported research by Aboriginal people into sites of significance in eastern Australia. She continues to be actively engaged in Indigenous heritage conservation projects in Australia.
In 2004 Sharon was awarded an AO in the Australia Day Honours List for services to local and international cultural heritage conservation and a life membership of ICOMOS worldwide, a rare honour. In 2005, the Rhys Jones Medal was awarded to Sharon in recognition of her sustained and significant contribution to archaeology. This is the highest award offered by the Australian Archaeological Association.
Sharon with the AHC Chair Pat Galvin in the SE Forests, near Pemberton WA, September 1990.
She has been a great role model and mentor for many people in the archaeological community and is held in great esteem by her colleagues both in Australia and overseas, enhancing the reputation of Australia in progressive and responsible approaches to cultural heritage.
Sharon Sullivan's colleagues have contributed valedictory remarks:
Isabel McBryde, Professor Emerita in Archaeology (ANU):
Sharon Sullivan is honoured in Australia and internationally for her outstanding achievements in the cultural heritage field. Nationally to us she is the pioneer of that field, who continues to provide intellectual leadership and to inspire new approaches and significant administrative innovation in professional practice.
As an archaeologist I write with admiration and gratitude of her seminal contribution to the development of our discipline's practice in Australia, especially in the study of its Aboriginal past. While holding important appointments in the National Parks Service (NSW) and Director of the Australian Heritage Commission her influence was significant. It changed attitudes and approaches to the conduct of research and the protection, registration and management of archaeological heritage.
Sharon at the Australian Heritage Commission's Indigenous Art Award ceremony in 1994.
From these institutions she made major contributions to the development of protective legislation which recognised the social values of archaeological sites as well as their historical or scientific importance. She established implementation regimes to accommodate this. For Indigenous places these regimes gave, for the first time, a voice in decision-making to Indigenous communities.
In recent years she has maintained her Australian commitments, and we continue indebted to her expertise and dedication. Beyond Australia she advises governments on heritage management. Important programs are developed in Asia, especially in China and the Pacific.
Sharon has indeed created, for Australians and many others, a changed archaeology, deeply engaged with society.
Adjunct Professor Richard Mackay AM:
Sharon Sullivan has always been an inspirational and enthusiastic leader in cultural heritage management and archaeology, both within Australia and internationally, as well as a great mentor. I first met Sharon when she taught me as an undergraduate and encouraged my academic research into public archaeology. It was more than 30 years ago, but Sharon already had a legendary reputation as an advocate for inclusive, consultative approaches to cultural heritage management.
Sharon with the then Chair of the Australian Heritage Commission, Wendy McCarthy, at Port Arthur, May 1996.
Photo: Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority
While at NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Sharon helped establish important procedures and protocols for heritage conservation. She was a vigorous advocate for the rights of Indigenous people to have an active role in determining the management of their own heritage - a principle which was innovative then, but which we all take for granted today.
During her illustrious Commonwealth career Sharon represented Australia at international gatherings, including the World Heritage Committee. She facilitated the National Heritage Convention held at Old Parliament House in 1998, which made an important contribution to our current Commonwealth heritage management arrangements. She assisted the Schofield Committee which investigated Commonwealth-owned Heritage Properties, played a pivotal role in the establishment of Regional Forest Agreements and instigated a wide range of community outreach programs for heritage.
In October 2004 Sharon was made an Honorary Life member of ICOMOS - a rare honour for an Australian. In January 2004 she was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia and in 2005, she received the Rhys Jones medal for her contribution to Australian archaeology. More recently, she has contributed as a member of the Australian Heritage Council, NSW Heritage Council and the Board of the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority.
Sharon is very widely published. With Michael Pearson she wrote the seminal looking After Heritage Places. She and I are currently collaborating on a comprehensive set of Readings in the Conservation and Management of Archaeological sites for the Getty Conservation Institute.
Sharon has consulted to the Australian Government, the Getty Conservation Institute, the World Monument Fund, the World Bank, and the World Heritage Committee and taught and guided site managers in Australia, USA, Cambodia, Africa and China. Her current challenge is as part of a multi-disciplinary team working together with UNESCO, the Cambodian Government and Godden Mackay Logan to prepare a Heritage Management Framework for the World Heritage site of Angkor. Who knows which iconic site or what impossible challenge will be next?
Sharon Sullivan is a wonderful colleague and friend who has made an extraordinary contribution to Australia's heritage and to global cultural heritage management.
Dr Michael Pearson:
Sharon at the National Heritage Convention (HERCON), Old Parliament House, Canberra, August 1998. Dr Barry Jones in the Chair and Peter King, Australian Heritage Commission Chair, at the lectern.
Sharon Sullivan is for me above everything else a friend and mentor. I first met Sharon in 1976 when she employed me, green and mid PhD, as 'historian' (to distinguish me from the 'real' archaeologists who did Aboriginal archaeology) in NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. Sharon was then, and remains, a powerful intellectual force in Australian heritage, and one who can get things done within and around the system. She led the way in the 70s and 80s in bringing an Aboriginal voice into the management and protection of their own heritage, and at the same time fostered the recognition of historical heritage sites, in NPWS and then in the Australian Heritage Commission, where I again worked with her.
Sharon's commitment to training and best practice is shown by her many involvements in courses, the Australian Heritage Commission and Council, World Heritage delegations, and the Getty Foundation over many decades. Our book 'Looking after Heritage Places' arose from a training course we wrote for rangers, and we are again involved in training courses today through the Institute for Professional Practice in Heritage and the Arts at ANU.
Sharon once described herself at a workshop as 'retired grazier', but her continuing influence on heritage in Australia belies this modest epithet.
Dr Neville Agnew and Dr Martha Demas, the Getty Conservation Institute:
Sharon Sullivan being presented with Gansu Province Award for her contribution to cultural heritage by Wang Xudong, Deputy Director, Dunhuang Academy, Mogao Caves, September 2009
It is a great pleasure to recognize Sharon Sullivan's immense contributions to the field of cultural heritage management and specifically to the projects of the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) that we have worked on together.
These projects go back well over twenty years, beginning with rock art site management courses (1989-1990) and later with Sharon's keynote contribution to the Mediterranean conference (1995), and most recently to her tackling, with Richard Mackay, the forthcoming Readings in Conservation series on archaeological site conservation and management. Initially representing the Australian Heritage Commission, Sharon has been a key figure in our work in China since 1997 in developing the national guidelines for the conservation and management of heritage sites issued in 2000 by China ICOMOS with the authorization of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.
Sharon's contributions in management planning at the sites of Dnnhuang and Chengde in China have been of enormous value, not least in cementing professional and personal relations at those sites.
In Africa too her work with the GCI on rock art has moved the field forward.
Sharon continues working with us in the field and we cannot acknowledge adequately her friendship and vast experience and wisdom - by no means confined to cultural heritage - and as much as anything her willingness and generosity in sharing her knowledge.
The Hon Dr Barry Jones AO, Chair, Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority
It is a major loss for the AHC to be without Sharon Sullivan, a dedicated professional of exceptional dedication and expertise.
Community consultation at Angkor
Photo: R Mackay
I have been privileged to work with her since 1994. She was then my minder when I sat on UNESCO's Executive Board in Paris and then transferred to the World Heritage Committee.
I was awed by her capacity, energy, courage and candour. Our public institutions need all the expertise they can get. When I was wrong, she told me so, with no holds barred.
For a decade we have worked together on the board of the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority. I have learned a great deal from her, at Board meetings and perhaps even more as we drive down to the site and back from Hobart Airport. Port Arthur's international standing and World Heritage listing owes much to her reputation. It was also instructive to sit on the board of Australia ICOMOS with her. Sharon's work in Mogao has also gained international recognition. Her AO in 2005 was richly deserved.
The rise and rise of managerialism runs the risk that generalists will push experts towards the exit. This is a matter worth debating. We can be confident that Sharon will continue to be a major contributor until she drops.
Dr Jane Lennon AM
Growing up on a farm in the remote northern tablelands of NSW, Sharon had a love of the bush and its past environment, the archaeology of the future. Her leadership abilities were honed early and as a pioneering woman in the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, she championed Aboriginal people and their connection to their country as well as historic heritage in the park estate. Her rise to managerial roles with issues such as fire and feral control reinforced her practical abilities. She could get on with all sorts of people.
Sharon and Cambodian colleagues at Angkor Wat, March 2011
Photo: R Mackay
We met when we both worked for parks services in the mid 1970s and organised workshops and practical field sessions across State borders for staff. She brought her skills to the Australian Heritage Commission - strategic thinker, widely travelled and experienced, ability to work in the natural and the cultural spheres. At World Heritage she championed living cultures, not fossil ones. Gaining the respect of Commonwealth ministers to establish a new national heritage framework and dealing with all sides of politics was her forte. The Heritage Convention in 1998 was a highpoint.
Her skills and commitment to heritage have continued through the NSW Heritage Council, Port Arthur Historic Sites Management Authority, the Getty Conservation Institute's China project and numerous project steering committees, one of the most enjoyable being our collaboration on the Kosciuszko National Park new plan of management which gave heritage and community good roles at last, a fitting tribute to Sharon's advocacy. Her strategic thinking is sorely needed in heritage land.
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