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Teaching Heritage

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SubSection MarkerBuilding Australian Identities

1945-1960's Post second world war - Building Australian Identities - A teaching unit

Examine social and political change in postwar Australia to the 1970s. Visit places of cultural activity, community identity, political meetings and civic participation and gather information about Australian citizenship following World War II. Consider ideas about the developing identity of the nation during this period.

Focus Areas

Use the resources and activities in Building Australian identities – post second world war to examine the inquiry questions in Stage 5 History Post-war Australia to the 1970s and Stage 5 Geography Investigating Australia’s Identity. –drawn from the New South Wales State Heritage Inventoryexternal link(SHI NSW) – for evidence of the major influences on Australian life from 1945 to the 1970s. Discuss contemporary ideas of heritage – for example, changing images of Australia and being Australian used in cultural tourism – and the connections between places that these ideas generate.

Explore the ways that historical sources contribute to an understanding of heritage places. Activities in this unit incorporate ideas for using historical sources to generate understandings about cultural significance. Connections are drawn between buildings, environments, communities and cultural activities that give rise to community identity. Suzanne Rutland draws on a range of sources to piece together the history and heritage of the original Bellevue Hill site of Moriah College. ’s history is strongly linked to its meeting places such as a local hall.

Meredith Walker writes:

The social value for some public places – including post offices – is readily known because they are actively used or – in such cases as the Royal South Street Theatre, Ballarat – because their value has been widely and publicly acknowledged …Some public places, of course, may be more widely known than others; but even places in a small community, such as the local hall of a rural community, or a closed railway station, might also have social value. They serve as evidence of that community and its history.

– and the changes in Australian society that followed – is a focus of this unit. Australia’s cultural diversity is fundamental to contemporary heritage discussions – identifying cultural values that support the preservation of items, places and cultural traditions is a crucial part of heritage work.

Consider the way social and political issues feature in the literature, music and/or religion of the community/communities being investigated. What aspects of the past are represented in songs, books and religious practices? How can these contribute to an understanding of contemporary discussions? Why is some of the past preserved and some lost?

Present your ideas about the importance of a song, book or religious tradition to the cultural identity and sense of kinship within an Australian community.

Starting points for Building Australian identities – post second world war include:

Heritage places as a springboard for investigating the influences on life in Australia after World War II. Examine heritage places for evidence of influences on life in the post second world war period

Choosing a syllabus inquiry question or content area and using heritage places as a source of information and evidence. Choose a topic for investigation and access heritage places to gather information and evidence

Taking a retrospective view of the 20th century through an investigation stemming from heritage places. Use the information and evidence provided by heritage places to investigate key influences, events and developments in one of the following focus issues of Australian history:

Australia and the rest of the world

  • Government House, Sydney Customs House
  • Grace Building, Cowra POW Campsite
  • New Italy, Australian Hall
  • Yiu Ming Temple, Dundullimal Homestead

Australia's political history

  • Government House, Sydney Customs House
  • Grace Building, Cowra POW Campsite
  • Sydney Town Hall, Sydney Trades Hall
  • Tranby, Mutawintji National Park

Australia's social and cultural history

  • Eveleigh Railway Workshops, Lithgow Blast Furnace
  • Ritz Theatre, Walter Burley Griffin Incinerator
  • Rose Seidler House, Rookwood Cemetery and Necropolis
  • Kelly's Bush, Susannah Place

Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal relations

  • Willandra Lakes, Parramatta Park
  • Australian Hall
  • Tranby, Mutawintji National Park

Rights and freedoms of various groups

  • Government House, Sydney Customs House
  • Richmond Main Colliery, Glennifer Brae
  • Sydney Town Hall, Sydney Trades Hall
  • Kelly's Bush, Susannah Place

Teachers In building units of work for classroom use with these questions and resources, you may like to consult the NSW History and Geography Stages 4-5 syllabus outcomes.

Urban Expansion.

In 1945 the National Trust of Australia formed in New South Wales – its role to conserve and protect Australia’s heritage. The postwar period was stamped with optimism. New patterns of migration and population growth lead to increased urban development. Look at the heritage of Rose Seidler House and Rookwood Cemetery and collect evidence about the diverse values that contributed to the collective cultural heritage of the nation during this period.

Rose Seidler House and Rookwood Cemetery and Necropolis

Focus questions

  • What do Rose Seidler House and Rookwood Cemetery reveal about the influences on life in Australia after World War II?
  • How do the influences revealed by these places contribute to our understanding of: the effects of urban growth; the spread of new technologies; past and present attitudes of Australians to cultural heritage?
  • What is being preserved in these places; who decided what was important and should be kept; and how is it being done?

Rose Seidler House, 69-71 Clissold Road, Wahroonga, Sydney


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Rookwood Cemetery and Necropolis, East Street, Lidcombe, Sydney


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Rookwood Cemetery and Rose Seidler House provide snapshots of the changes in Australia after World War II. While Rookwood records the cultural and religious diversity of Australian communities since the 19th century, the influx of migrants during the 1950s and 60s lead to greater diversity in funerary customs. Rookwood now caters for eighty different cultural groups – with different cultural sections reflecting the various traditions and customs associated with death.

Rose Seidler House

Rose Seidler House is part of the story of urban development and postwar construction in Sydney during the 1950s. The Cumberland Country Plan (1951) lead to a new wave of developers and middle class professionals attracted to Sydney’s bushland settings. Rose Seidler House influenced domestic architecture of 1950s’ New South Wales, but also had an impact on architectural practices in later decades.

In 1948 architect Harry Seidler arrived in Sydney to design and build a house for his parents. Surrounded by vegetable gardens and bushland, Rose Seidler House – whilst atypical in its design – adhered to the conservative building regulations of the period. Urban planning strategies that promoted open space and green belts in neighbourhood development were evident in the 16 acre setting for the house.

Domestic technology introduced into Australia in the 1950s – electric appliances, labour saving devices, materials, fittings and storage systems – featured in the house. Innovative technology of the 50s is still a feature of Rose Seidler House, which is now a "frozen moment in time" under the management of the Historic Houses Trust of NSW.

As one of the largest burial grounds in the world, Rookwood Cemetery contains monumental masonry and craftsmanship that reflect attitudes to death and fashions in funerary ornamentation. Burials commenced at the site in 1867. The Haslem’s Creek Necropolis (as it was then known) was located on a railway line; the railway playing a key role in funerary operations until the advent of cars and buses lead to its closure in 1948.
The cemetery provides a habitat for two rare and endangered species; it also supports populations of 19 species of frogs and reptiles and a large number of bird species.

Source: NSW State Heritage Inventory

Rose Seidler House - video

Plan of Rose Seidler House

Cumberland Country Plan

The Local Government (Town and Country Planning) Amendment Act gained parliamentary assent on 5 April 1945. Though complicated and hard to follow, this legislation was rightly hailed ‘as the most powerful [planning] instrument which had ever been placed in the hands of local government’ in New South Wales. Under its provisions the Cumberland Country Council was created. This body was charged with producing a broad county plan within three years – it took six due to inadequate resourcing – and overseeing the preparation of schemes for local government areas. Local planning schemes were the responsibility of shire and municipal councils; they were obliged to provide detail for the country master plan.
(from Paul Ashton’s ‘The Accidental City: Planning Sydney since 1788’, p67)

Harry Seidler

Domestic technology relating to Rose Seidler House

Rose Seidler House - domestic technologies - video

Advertisements for The 50's Fridge

close-up: Advertisements for The 50's Fridge

Rookwood Cemetery and Necropolis

Rookwood funerary station

View of Cremetorium and surroundings, 1938

Remembrance gardens surrounding the Cremetorium, 1938

Florist and tea rooms c.1930

Designs and ornamentation at Rookwood Cemetery - excerpt from Sites and Scenes - video

Teacher brainstorm on the development of classroom activities

Investigating Heritage

How and why did Australia’s patterns of migration change?

Rose Seidler House and Rookwood Cemetery and Necropolis are linked to investigations focusing on immigration and multiculturalism in Australia following World War II.

  • Examine the images and text information relating to Rose Seidler House and Rookwood Cemetery. What can the buildings, artefacts and landforms tell us about the past? Look for evidence of housing, death and cultural sites.
  • Choose one of the following case studies: domestic technologies introduced to Australia in the 1950s and 1960s (using Rose Seidler House as a starting point); or burial customs in 1950s and 1960s’ Australia (using Rookwood Cemetery and Necroplis as a starting point).
  • Look at the materials associated with your case study. What responses to change come through in these materials? What can Rose Seidler House and/or Rookwood Cemetery tell us about the experience of immigration and multiculturalism in post World War II Australia?
  • Reflect on innovation and tradition in domestic life and customs associated with death. How do we identify what is worth preserving in areas of technology and cultural practice? Values and Attitudes — develops respect for different viewpoints, ways of living, belief systems and languages

Investigating Heritage and Citizenship

  • Examine maps showing the green corridors of Sydney and note the changes that have occurred from 1950 to the present day.
  • Utilise maps from different stages in the history of your locality in examining local urban growth or decline. Can you identify any patterns in the physical development of your community?
  • Undertake an inquiry-based investigation of either your family home (or that of a friend or member of your family) or the local cemetery.
  • Utilise family photographs in a study of your home and surrounds; identify and represent different customs and denominational symbols in an investigation of the cemetery.
  • Talk to family members and/or local church authorities, trustees of local cemetery. What factors have contributed to changes in the family home or cemetery? How have people responded to change? How would you describe early perceptions of the place – positive, negative, enthusiastic, hopeful? How do early peceptions compare with present day perspectives? Can you identify any links between present issues at the place and past events or issues?
  • Discuss the way old and new co-exist in domestic situations and burial grounds. Why is some of the past preserved and some lost?

Revisiting Notions of Citizenship

1956 was the year that Britain conducted the first series of atomic bomb tests at Maralinga, Western Australia. In 1957 the Aboriginal Australian Fellowship (AAF) organised a meeting at Sydney Town Hall to discuss ways of raising the living standards of Aborigines and their integration into the Australian community. Examine the heritage of Australian Hall and New Italy and collect evidence about the emergence of cultural identities in Australia and the influence of groups on notions of citizenship.

Australian Hall and New Italy

Focus questions

  • What do New Italy and Australian Hall reveal about the influences on life in Australia after World War II?
  • How do the influences revealed by these places contribute to our understanding of: the effects of population change; building community identities; past and present meanings of Australian citizenship?
  • What is being preserved in these places; who decided what was important and should be kept; and how is it being done?

View maps of these heritage sites

New Italy, Woodburn, northern New South Wales


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Australian Hall, 150-152 Elizabeth Street, Sydney


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New Italy and Australian Hall are linked to migrant and Aboriginal experiences around the time of World War II.

During the second World War Italians living in Australia were considered enemy aliens – this included those born in Australia of Italian parentage. By September 1942, the number of Italians in civilian internment camps throughout New South Wales was 3631. Against this backdrop, 360 00 Italians arrived in Australia between 1947 and 1976 – some working for the Snowy Mountains Scheme – and 90 000 Italian-born departed.

Towards the end of the 1940s Aboriginal ex-servicemen were permitted to vote in elections. It was not until the referendum of 1967, however, that indigenous people were included in the census and given the right to vote. Demands made at the 1938 ‘Day of Mourning and Protest’ conference – in addition to voting rights – would shape the future direction of Aboriginal activism in Australia.

On 26 January 1938, Australian Hall was the venue for the first national Aboriginal civil rights gathering – ‘Day of Mourning and Protest’. The venue was second choice after organisers of the gathering were denied permission to meet at Sydney Town Hall. At the time, Australian Hall was a popular venue for concerts, dances, and other social activities.

The conference took place as the nation celebrated the 150 year anniversary of the foundation of New South Wales. Approximately one hundred Aboriginal men and women from New South Wales, Victoria and possibly Queensland attended the conference. Messages of solidarity arrived from Aboriginal activists in all parts of Australia.

Poster for campaign to save the 1938 Day of Mourning and Protest site in Sydney - digital image created by Brenda Palma. Copyright: Brenda Palma

Hear Geracitano's views on heritage.

In 1982, 317 Italian migrants – accepted by the New South Wales government as refugees – established a community at Woodburn in northern New South Wales. New Italy – as the community became known – featured houses in traditional Friulan and Venetian styles, a church, a school and a community hall. Community members became involved in a range of activities including timber-cutting, cane-cutting, wine-making, dairying and silk production.

Hear descendents of New Italy pioneer, Giovanni Batestuzzi

members of the Battistuzzi family: Dorothy, Jean, Margaret, Dorothy [L-R] talk about their first memories of New Italy.

Although Australia did not attract large numbers of Italian immigrants until the 1950s, Italian contacts with Australia date back much further. The very process of European discovery and exploration of the ‘Fifth Continent’, as Italian geographers term Australia, was assisted by Italians. There were many Italian sailors and officers on the decks of the Spanish and Portuguese ships bound for Australia.
Luca Stewart-Crisanti in ‘The Italian hidden heritage’, information sheet of the NSW Heritage Office

Throughout the 1920s the population of New Italy gradually decreased, and by 1942 Giacomo Picoli was the sole resident. At this time, the community comprised two mud houses (in a state of decay), a church and a school. In 1936, Picoli had established a ‘Park of Peace’ on his property where every year on April 7 a tree would be planted. This ritual is still followed by the descendants of the original settlers to New Italy.
Source: research undertaken by Gisele Mesnage (Australian Hall); Luca Stewart-Crisanti in ‘The Italian hidden heritage’, information sheet of the NSW Heritage Office

Teacher brainstorm on the development of classroom activities

Investigating Heritage

What contribution did migrants make to Australia’s social, cultural and economic development? What was the Day of Mourning and why was it important in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal relations? What did Aboriginal people achieve as a result of the protest movements from the 1940s to 1972?

  • Examine the images and text information relating to New Italy and Australian Hall. What can the buildings, artefacts and relics tell us about the past? Look for evidence of events, migration, ethnic influences, environment and townships.
  • Now look at the other materials related to these places. Focus on the actions, concerns and initiatives of both groups in post-war Australia. What attitudes and values come through in these materials?
  • Look at the issues that confronted Aboriginal people who attended the Australian Hall ‘Day of Mourning and Protest’ conference and the influence of their demands on future indigenous activism.
  • What civil rights issues were central to the 1957 meeting of the Aboriginal-Australian Fellowship at Sydney Town Hall? How do the central issues of the 1938 and 1957 meetings compare with the key areas of indigenous activism today?
  • Identify the issues and challenges confronting Italian immigrants who settled in the north of NSW. What factors contributed to a sense of identity amongst settler groups and Aboriginal peoples? What can New Italy and Australian Hall tell us about the experience of citizenship and civil rights in Australia in the period following World War II?
  • Reflect on the elements of the past that these groups have preserved. How do you think they decided what was worth preserving?

Investigating Heritage and Citizenship

  • Examine census records for changes in the demographics of your community since World War II. (link)
  • Talk to older family members or others in your community about the books they read, the music they listened to and religious practices in the years following World War II.
  • Compare the information you gather with contemporary approaches in these areas.
  • Focus on the challenges confronting two communities in contemporary Australia:
    rural Australian communities, and activists for Aboriginal rights and freedoms.
    Local, state or national newspaper articles could provide a starting point for your investigation.
  • Identify the key issues for the community. What changes are being advocated? Is there community resolve to hold onto something from the past that is valued and considered important to present and future generations?
  • Compare past ideas and assumptions with those coming through in contemporary media reports and other materials. What can past issues and events tell us about the challenges faced by Australian communities in contemporary times? Are there any indications of continuity in the attitudes and values presented?
  • Contact community members who are politically or civically active for their views and input. How do communities decide what they will fight for when facing political or economic challenges and pressures?

Extension

  • Consider the way social and political issues feature in the literature, music and/or religion of the community/communities being investigated. What aspects of the past are represented in songs, books and religious practices? How can these contribute to an understanding of contemporary discussions? Why is some of the past preserved and some lost?
  • Present your ideas about the importance of a song, book or religious tradition to the cultural identity and sense of kinship within an Australian community.

Voicing Rights and Freedoms

1951 was the year that a Commonwealth government referendum to ban the Communist Party was defeated by a narrow margin – 2 317 927 in favour; 2 370 009 against. Investigate the heritage of Sydney Town Hall and Sydney Trades Hall and collect evidence about citizenship issues for migrant and Aboriginal Australians, the threat of communism and changing gender roles in post-war Australia.

Sydney Town Hall and Sydney Trades Hall

Focus questions

  • What do Sydney Trades Hall and Sydney Town Hall reveal about the influences on life in Australia after World War 2?
  • How do the influences revealed by these places contribute to our understanding of: meanings of citizenship in Australia; issues of civic participation; past and present attitudes of Australians to egalitarianism and diversity?
  • What is being preserved in these places; who decided what was important and should be kept; and how is it being done?

Sydney Town Hall, George Street, Sydney


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Sydney Trades Hall, 4-10 Goulburn Street, Sydney


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Sydney Trades Hall and Sydney Town Hall are places where community members meet: both can be viewed as venues for people to participate in community decision-making. While the focus here is on political activities associated with meeting places, the local hall is a regular part of social life: school speech nights, concerts, dances, visits from entertainers, citizenship ceremonies, religious celebrations, parades and parties, are just some of the events held in a town hall.

Hear Shirley Fitzgerald's views on heritage.

Shirley Fitzgerald, City Historian, City of Sydney [transcript]

View video of Sydney Town Hall lift

Original lift at Sydney Town Hall [video]

Sydney Town Hall was built between 1869 and 1889 – during a construction boom that expressed the wealth and confidence of the times. Several other major buildings were constructed in Sydney by governments, churches, hospitals and the private sector in this period. Over the 20th century, Town Hall functioned at the centre of Sydney’s political and cultural and life; City Council activities – and civic participation in events connected to Town Hall – reflected the attitudes and concerns of Sydney citizens.

Sydney Trades Hall

Sydney Trades Hall is one of the first and continuing headquarters of members of the New South Wales Trade Union Movement. The idea of a Trades Hall was conceived in 1882 when representatives of thirteen unions met at the original meeting place for the Union Movement – ‘The Swan with Two Necks’ Hotel, George Street, Sydney. From its opening on 26 January 1895, Trades Hall has provided office accommodation and meeting rooms for unions and, since World War II for other organisations and collectives. One room of Trades Hall is set aside to store Trade Union banners.

View Trade Union banners from Sydney Trades Hall

banner 2banner 3banner 4banner 5banner 6banner 7

Banners

Banner: Amalgamated Engineering Union

Banner: Federated Liquor Trades Employees' Union of Australasia

Banner: The New South Wales Locomotive Engine Drivers, Firemen & Cleaners Association

Banner: Federated Mining Employees' Association of Australia

Banner: Federated Miscellaneous Workers' Union of Australia

Banner: Australian Railways Union

Banner: Operative Stonemasons' Society

Hear Vince Higgin's views on heritage.

Vince Higgins recalls the strong debates that have occurred in the rooms of Trades Hall. Civil activism in the years following World War II is evident in activities associated with both Sydney Town Hall and Sydney Trades Hall.
Source: NSW State Heritage Inventory.

[W]e had a Menzies Government…in 1949 and they were changing the political face of Australia, or as far as we were concerned they were, and then you had the differences within the Labour movement as to how to tackle those questions which kept continually arising and on…the first Monday in October at the Labour Day procession the banners and slogans…of the various unions highlighted what those differences were.

(from Vince Higgins interview for Teaching Heritage website)

Vince Higgins, Chairman, Trades Hall Association [transcript]

[video]

View video of Sydney Trades Hall

Sydney Trades Hall - original lift [video]

Sydney Trades Hall - Meeting Room 33 [video]

Local school children and world renowned entertainers perform in the Main Hall

Teacher brainstorm on the development of classroom activities

Investigating Heritage

What was assimilation and how was it applied to both migrants and Aboriginal people? How did the policy of assimilation change to integration in relation to migrants and Aboriginal people? How did the Australian government respond to the threat of communism in Australia?

Sydney Town Hall and Sydney Trades Hall are linked to investigations focusing on citizenship issues for migrant and Aboriginal Australians, communism and changing roles of women in Australia.

  • Examine the images and text information relating to Sydney Town Hall and Trades Hall. What can these buildings and artefacts tell us about the past? Look for evidence of labour, government and administration, social institutions and events.
  • Now look at the other materials relating to these places. What attitudes and values come through in these materials?
  • Examine the information provided on access to Sydney Town Hall in the post-war period. What does the information convey? Which groups are included in the information, and which are not represented?
  • Choose one of the groups denied access to Sydney Town Hall and investigate restrictions on the rights and freedoms of this group in other areas.
  • Consider the influences on society that allowed for exclusion of certain groups in the post-war period.
  • What can Sydney Town Hall and Trades Hall tell us about the democratic experience in Australian communities?

Investigating Heritage and Citizenship

  • Identify community groups and organisations in your locality that encourage public participation. Notices and advertisements in your local newspaper and on community noticeboards could assist you in compiling a list.
  • Talk to people at your community centre about individuals and groups active in community life.
  • Contact these individuals and/or groups and create an inventory of issues they are concerned with, their objectives, who participates in activities, where they meet, their links and affiliations to other groups.
  • Focus on a contemporary issue – social or political – in your community and examine it for past origins.
  • Talk to others in your community about the historical background to the issue.
  • Access newspaper coverage of the issue in the local studies section of your community library.
  • Invite local government representatives and local parliamentarians to visit the school and speak about the issue.
  • Chart the varying perspectives and strategies that public participants have contributed to debate and discussion over the issue. What can you say about the way community members have viewed the issue over time? What factors have caused discussions to change direction?
  • Examine local meeting places that support or are linked to the issue. What can these tell you about participation and activism in your community? How have these places contributed to debate and community input to the issue?
  • Look at the role of your local town hall or union meeting place in local forums and actions. What is the link between these places and the level of active citizen involvement in your community?
  • Speak to a local historian or community leader and gain their views on the significance of meeting places where community members are able to express personal or collective views. What are the aspects of these places that are worth preserving? How do we decide what to keep in these places?

Intergrating Multicultural Perspectives

Investigate the involvement of multicultural groups in some significant developments in Australia from 1945 to 1970. What did Australia’s diverse cultural groups contribute to the social, cultural and economic development of the nation? What input did migrant groups have to government decisions about assimilation and integration?

How can we formulate historical questions that lead to more integrated ways of thinking about issues? Rather than separating ethnic issues and asking specific ethnic-related questions, how can investigations be approached in a way that draws on the perspectives of various ethnic groups?

Integrating perspectives is an attempt to overcome bias in viewing situations and drawing conclusions. Bias develops when we take a narrow look at a particular topic. Analysing problems and issues from a range of viewpoints is the main objective in working with perspectives.

So, how do we gather evidence of the diversity of views held by a range of cultural groups in relation to developments such as post-war immigration? Much of what marginalised groups thought, felt and did – expressed from their particular viewpoints – went unrecorded in the past. It naturally follows that much of recorded history is biased.

Analysis focusing on perspectives, then, requires us to integrate current knowledge and awareness of situations involving marginalised groups – the voices generally unrepresented in the media and public life – in contemporary society.

Several inquiry questions in the History syllabus focus on political processes between the wars. Crucial to understanding processes is to look at those included and those excluded from discussions.

The questions we ask are a key to accessing perspectives. Questions initiating an inquiry reflect the outlook (or perspective) on the investigation – signalling the likely direction an investigation will take.

Questions that focus on who was involved – and how the representative groups benefited from participation – can illuminate our understandings of the power cultural and ethnic groups bring to Australian politics today.

How and why did Australia’s patterns of migration change?
Analysing this topic in relation to cultural groups evokes a key question: Who was involved in political discussions and decisions to change immigration policies? For example, who contributed to the immigration debates, who attended the conferences and meetings, who was represented in the groups that were entitled to migrate to Australia during this period? Furthering the inquiry, we could ask, What were participant groups trying to achieve? For example, what did those in attendance contribute or say, what roles did they perform, what benefits did their group receive as a result of their involvement? And leading to the syllabus related question: How and why certain outcomes occurred in the immigration debate?

Ultimately, citizenship learning that assists students to work within current social and political systems will focus on how the processes that lead to changes in immigration worked to the advantage of certain groups and the disadvantage of others.

Listen to various points of views

Another approach to integrating the perspectives of cultural groups is to ask people of different groups how they view a particular issue. Go to the discussion forum to hear a range of perspectives – including gender, Aboriginal, cultural, socioeconomic – on the meanings and practices associated with heritage. Helen Armstrong gives an account of the way cultural beliefs and practices lead to identification with places that give rise to a public profile for communities. Considering multicultural perspectives, however, we need to ask whether the political views of different cultural groups are as widely disseminated as social and cultural aspects.

Exploring values is central to investigating multicultural heritage. When we discuss multicultural heritage are we talking about values ascribed by heritage practitioners – and applied through assessments of significance – or are we focusing on shared values in the community towards aspects of Australian culture and environment?

Or, are practices in relation to multicultural heritage a meeting ground for both perspectives?

In Investigating multicultural heritage, the meanings of heritage held by groups and individuals from varying cultural backgrounds act as a starting point for students to identify the values of others and to clarify their own values. The objective is one of working towards an appreciation of the diverse cultural values and shared heritage of all Australians.

In 1996, the Australian Heritage Commission (AHC) commenced a pilot project to assist migrant communities to identify and conserve their heritage places. Oral histories are a feature of the AHC migrant heritage project. Information gathered from interviews is used to identify important places. One group involved in this project was the Maltese community of Blacktown, Sydney. An area of significance to this group was Wooloomooloo, Sydney – a suburb where many Maltese families first lived and worked when they arrived in Australia after World War II.

Maltese and other ethnic groups would fish from the wharves in a harbour holding "every kind of fish". Today, a block of flats is being built in the Domain beside Wooloomooloo Bay – and the landscape of this area is changing dramatically.

In New South Wales, the Migrant Heritage Community Consultation Program is conducting workshops to find out the most effective ways for people from non-English speaking backgrounds to identify and assess heritage items from their own cultural perspectives. One strategy is to give workshop participants a camera and invite them to spend an hour or two photographing the sites and items of importance to their communities.

Helen Armstrong gives an insight into migrant communities and attachment to place:
The process of migration has resulted in particular ways of place making which can be interpreted in the cultural landscape. Some places created by migrant communities are vibrant and exotic. Other places are known only to migrant groups themselves and are not easily identified by outsiders. These are places in the cultural landscape of Australia which are rich with meaning. Such places are part of the cultural heritage of Australia.

listen to various points of views

Heritage can offer a pathway to reconciliation with indigenous and migrant communities. While the distinct and meaningful in Australia’s blend of cultures remains a focus, community identification of heritage can inscribe a sense of the communal and this can cross cultural boundaries. Geraldine O’Brien writes: "It [heritage] can be unique to an individual – a personal momento that may look like a piece of junk to anyone else – but I think in its broader sense it is something we all share. And it crosses cultural boundaries."

Reconciliation is a way of unravelling the prejudices and injustices that can erupt in response to cultural difference. Heritage practices that integrate cultural perspectives support the preservation of cultural practices – an inheritance that is most often linked to places of importance.

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