NSW Heritage Network – Keynote Address


In mid August, Richard Mackay delivered the keynote address to the 2015 annual workshop of the NSW Heritage Advisors’ Network at the Heritage Division of the Office of Environment and Heritage.

Richard’s talk, entitled: Perspectives on Indigenous Heritage Management in Australia was presented at short notice, when the scheduled speaker, The Hon Mark Speakman, Minister for Environment and Heritage, was not available.

Richard noted that the 2011 State of the Environment Report had concludes that Australia is: a complex, layered natural and cultural landscape in which unique geodiversity and biodiversity provide the backdrop to an ancient, but continuing Indigenous culture . . .

In his presentation, Richard drew attention to the lack of common standards for data collection and regulation of Indigenous heritage around Australia and the need for better co-ordination by both government and non-government agencies.

Particular concern was expressed about continuing incremental destruction of Indigenous places, despite the views expressed by Australian Senate Committee hearing as long ago as 2007:

… heritage, once destroyed or sullied, can rarely be recovered. As well, it is important for avoiding the tyranny of little decisions, whereby incremental developments—perhaps done under the aegis of improving access—end up destroying the attractions for which the place was set up in the first place.

The presentation also highlighted recent additions to the National Heritage List, noting increasing awareness of contemporary Indigenous values, as reflected in the listing of the Moree Baths – a site of protest during the 1965 Freedom Ride. However, there are still major gaps – such as the outstanding importance of Indigenous heritage across the Greater Blue Mountains, which include the traditions, memories and meanings of six Indigenous groups, as well as the better-known amazing galleries of carved and painted rock art.

Richard celebrated an emerging trend which has seen greater consultation with Indigenous stakeholders about their attachment to ‘place’, rather than focusing entirely on the archaeological record and stone tool scatters, in western Sydney. In some cases such consultative processes have resulted in the reservation of lands within new suburban developments for cultural reasons.

The workshop and Richard’s address provided a valuable opportunity for Heritage Division staff and professionals who advise local government and the community to learn about emerging trends and issues in Indigenous heritage management in Australia.

A copy of the presentation slides may be found here: MACKAY – SHARED HERITAGE AUG 21 2015

State of the Environment 2016

Mt-Yengo-Aboriginal-Place---SOE-2016-copyProf Richard Mackay has been appointed as the heritage theme author for the 2016 Commonwealth State of the Environment (SOE 2016) report.

State of the Environment reports are tabled in the Australian Parliament every five years. They review the state and trends of the environment; pressures and the drivers which affect the environment; management initiatives which address environmental concerns, resilience risks and threats; and provide an overall outlook for the Australian environment.

The main purpose of the SOE report is to provide information on environmental issues to the community and to both government and non-government decision-makers, in order to raise awareness and support well-informed environmental management decisions that lead to more sustainable use and effective conservation.

Richard was responsible for the heritage chapter of the SOE 2011 report, in which an innovative set of ‘scorecards’, used to measure and present the state, condition and management effectiveness for both natural and cultural heritage were used for the first time.

SOE 2011 found that:

Our extraordinary and diverse natural and cultural heritage is currently in good condition, but is threatened by natural and human processes, and a lack of public sector resourcing.

The issues identified by Richard in the heritage chapter of SOE 2011 have informed and directed the development of a new Australian Heritage Strategy, which was exhibited in draft form in 2014.

For SOE 2016 the same ‘scorecard’ approach will be adopted, to provide a picture of key trends, as well as highlighting areas which warrant policy development of additional resources.

Richard and the other theme authors; (atmosphere, biodiversity, built environment, coasts, inland water, land, marine environment and Antarctica); are writing ‘analysis and scoping’ papers which will identify what has changed and how updated information can be a gathered at a national scale, allowing for measurement and evaluation of the state of Australia’s natural and cultural environment.

Further information: click here

Or: http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/science-and-research/state-environment-reporting


Richard Mackay at the World Heritage Committee


Prof Richard Mackay recently returned from an influential role as ICOMOS cultural heritage as adviser during the 39th Session of the World Heritage Committee, held in Bonn, Germany.

While much of the focus during World Heritage Committee sessions is on the World Heritage List, part of each session involves reporting and discussions about the ‘State of Conservation’ of properties which are on the List of ‘World Heritage in Danger’ or other properties whose ‘Outstanding Universal Value’ may be under threat. (Australia’s Great Barrier Reef was one of the properties considered during the State of Conservation discussions at this Session).

A major part of the 39th Session was devoted to consideration of World Heritage properties in conflict zones, particularly in the Middle East. During this Session, Richard Mackay provided advice about threats to World Heritage properties in Iraqi as a result of ISIL occupation, as well as the civil conflict and destruction that is occurring in Yemen. The ancient site of Hatra in Iraqi and the Old City of Sana’a and the City of Shibam in Yemen were both inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

There was also substantial discussion about the devastating earthquake which has wreaked havoc on the World Heritage property of Kathmandu, in Nepal. The global community were united in expressing great sympathy and extending offers practical support in response to this tragedy.

The final days of the session were spent considering places which had been nominated to the World Heritage List. 24 properties were inscribed, including the French landscapes of Burgundy and Champagne, the Aqueduct of Padre in Mexico, Ephesus in Turkey, the Meiji Sites of Japan’s Industrial Revolution, Singapore’s Botanic Gardens and the Birthplace of Jesus in Jordan.

For Richard, it was a huge challenge to process vast amounts of information and provide effective, expert advice in a timely manner, but also a huge privilege to make such a profound contribution to the conservation of our common heritage.

Further information: http://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/39com