State of Indigenous cultural heritage - A survey of Indigenous organisations

Technical report
The Open Mind Research Group
prepared for the 2006 Australian State of the Environment Committee, 2006

This document was commissioned for the 2006 Australian State of the Environment Committee. This and other commissioned documents support the Committee's Report but are not part of it.

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Our acceptance that heritage helps to define identity and express values and aspirations, means we must be concerned about the conservation of Australias Indigenous heritage. There is a fragile grasp on the management of Indigenous culture, which is integral to the identity and well-being of Australian Indigenous peoples.

The SoE report provides a means of tracking changes in the environment, and developing strategies to manage the protection of our heritage on a national scale. Essentially, if it is not measured, it also may not be managed or maintained.

The 2001 Australian State of the Environment (SoE) Report incorporated a survey of Indigenous organisations to assess the state of Indigenous cultural heritage. For the 2006 SoE Report, the same process is repeated, taking into account the limitations of the 2001 survey largely being gaps in the data.

The scope of the current research was to collect data from Indigenous organisations relating to the state of Indigenous cultural heritage, utilising the standard questionnaire previously applied. This information was collated and provided to the Department of the Environment and Heritage as a technical report for the 2006 SoE process.

It is important to establish and refine a process to report upon the conservation and management of heritage places and Indigenous languages; Indigenous involvement in heritage protection and management as well as other professionals and volunteers; funding, legislation and strategies; and the effect of tourism on cultural heritage.

Indicative of the importance placed on managing Indigenous heritage and safeguarding culture, all the Indigenous people representing organisations that participated in this research, were generous with their time (given that they were typically under-staffed at the time of contact over the holiday period) and all were willing to be mentioned as participants in the research and quoted where appropriate.


Open Mind Research Group 2006, State of Indigenous cultural heritage - A survey of Indigenous organisations, technical report for the Department of Environment and Heritage, Canberra,