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Teaching Heritage

Board of Studies NSW

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head Tony McAvoy

Manager, Heritage and Natural Resources Branch, NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs

There is a difference to be drawn I think between Aboriginal concepts of heritage and the expression of those concepts in practice, to those heritage values which are recognised within the non-indigenous heritage sector. One of the examples of that was the Cyprus-Hellene Club in Elizabeth Street in Sydney, where the club was recognised for its values under the Heritage Act in reliance upon some assessment under The Burra Charter. The Burra Charter has limited relevance to Aboriginal heritage interests and I know that some work has been done over the 1998/99 year towards reviewing The Burra Charter, but it’s coming from a starting point where it is designed to be used for built environment and historic heritage, as opposed to aboriginal concepts of heritage, of spirit and place and practice and culture.
Another example I suppose, is the church and other buildings that were on the Wellington Common at Wellington, and they are the post-contact sites that have been recognised as having heritage value under the Heritage Act I believe, as sites of significance to the State by reason of their representation of a colonial rural past. But, they also have very specific heritage values for the Aboriginal community of Wellington because those buildings were where the Aboriginal community went to school and went to church and there were generations of people who used those buildings and it provided a centre for community events. Now how that fits into the greater view of Aboriginal heritage as a cultural expression is not something that I think The Burra Charter can successfully manage and there’s further work that needs to be done on that particular document.

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