Heritage Chairs and Official Meet

Image courtesy David Flannery

Once a year the Heritage Chairs and Officials of Australia and New Zealand (HCOANZ), representing every State and Territory in Australia, the Commonwealth and Heritage New Zealand meet.

For the first time representatives of Aboriginal and Indigenous Heritage Councils and Officials were joined in the 2018 series of meetings, site visits and events with local dignitaries that culminated in a decision to restructure this forum to become a national cultural heritage forum.

This decision was symbolic of the desire on the part of all of those present to recognise cultural heritage in a more holistic manner, and a way that fosters greater collaboration and communication between a wider group of representatives of statutory cultural heritage bodies.

A site visit to Kakadu National Park showcased some of the outstanding features that resulted in this ancient Aboriginal and natural heritage landscape being inscribed on the World Heritage List. Exposure to the stories of this ancient landscape, ancient rock art, Yellow Water River, cultural practices and insights into the joint management of this vast area illustrated many of the opportunities and challenges involved.

Jurisdictional reports and presentations gave those present the opportunity to share strategic, statutory and operational insights. Ms Brett Torossi, Chair of the Tasmanian Heritage Council, used this opportunity to highlight some of the Tasmanian Heritage Council's latest developments and provide a sneak-preview of its innovative, and recently-released, publication, The Voice: Reimagine Tasmanian Heritage.

  The Voice: Reimagine Tasmanian Heritage   (1Mb)

'A gathering of this nature is a really important way by which those responsible for the statutory management of our unique cultural heritage places and stories come together to discuss matters of national interest, share insights and align our collective effort' said Ms Torossi.

'It gives the host the ability to showcase some of the work they are doing, which helps to build knowledge and understanding, and it also presents a unique chance to hold up a mirror to see how well we are performing at a national level. I'm thrilled to report back that Tasmania is tracking really well.

'The decision to form a single unified national cultural heritage body is an important step in recognising the tremendous importance of Australia's heritage to local communities and the visitor economy right across Australia.

‘This move also reflects steps towards greater collaboration between the Aboriginal Heritage Council and the Tasmanian Heritage Council. This process has started with exploration of how places with interwoven and shared values might be recognised and managed.

The HCOANZ meeting also included an update on a number of new initiatives, such as the new Commonwealth Australian Heritage Grants Program

This initiative is worth $5.3 Million per annum and will release funds to recognise and manage places of Aboriginal, historic and natural heritage value on the National Heritage List. It replaces the Protecting National Historic Sites and National Trust Partnerships programs.

For more information on HCOANZ or to obtain occasional updates on national initiatives and effort go to: www.environment.gov.au.


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