Aboriginal Heritage Office Staff
David Watts, Advisor
David stepped back from full-time manager in June 2022. He continues to provide his expertise and advice as an advisor. David was the first Aboriginal Heritage Officer at local government level and designed and took up the challenge of the partnership in 1999. In that time the Aboriginal Heritage Office grew from one officer with a laptop working with one Council to a multi-disciplinary team of staff and a museum working for a partnership of six Councils.
David has extensive experience in managing Aboriginal heritage issues, from archaeological survey, site excavation and assessment to specialist management and cultural tourism advice, including the development of several Aboriginal Heritage Walks within the northern Sydney region and the AHO museum.
He has delivered Aboriginal Cultural Awareness and other education and training programs since 1997 and has been invited to Greenland, Boulder University in Colorado and Native North American Communities throughout the US, to visit and lecture on Aboriginal Culture/Sites and Indigenous Land Management.
David’s skills include all facets of the AHO programs delivered to partnering Councils and the community, including regularly backing up for staff and consultants during their absence.
Phil Hunt, Acting Manager
Phil has been an archaeological adviser and consultant to the Aboriginal Heritage Office since 2003. He has over 30 years experience in all aspects of Aboriginal heritage management. Phil’s role has involved a multitude of tasks such as development assessments, archaeological investigation and advice to Councils on management plans for Aboriginal sites.
He has been involved with cultural and natural heritage conservation for many years, with participation in such diverse projects as mapping areas of cultural heritage in Peru and Russia and surveying endangered snow leopards in Mongolia, as well as leading Aboriginal site surveys and preparing site management plans in many regions of Australia.
Phil presents Aboriginal Sites Awareness courses to community groups, schools and Councils and also has experience in video and documentary production. Phil’s role at the AHO is invaluable and plays an important role in Aboriginal heritage management.
Karen Smith, Education Officer
Karen has been the AHO’s Education Officer since 2011 and has shared her knowledge and experience of the local area and Aboriginal history and culture with thousands of local residents, students and schools. She leads guided walks and provides talks and presentations throughout the partner Councils in northern Sydney.
Karen is from the Buruberongal clan of the Hawkesbury (Derrubin) area. Her family has been living in the Manly area for many years.
Karen’s diary is often full trying to meet the demand for bookings for schools and community groups to provide educational talks and presentations on Aboriginal Culture & Heritage. She was awarded Rotary’s Paul Harris Fellowship for her work and commitment in the protection and education of Aboriginal culture and heritage.
Susan Whitby, Archaeologist
Susan is our Heritage Officer, an archaeologist with 20 years experience both in the field and in museums. Working in with Aboriginal cultural heritage primarily in the Sydney area, she has worked closely with Aboriginal communities on heritage issues and through the repatriation of ancestral remains from both Australian Museums and from overseas. She looks after the AHO’s development assessments referrals and other archaeological issues.
Susan is passionate about sharing archaeology with the public and runs our Volunteer Monitoring Program and the Mock Archaeology Dig for primary and secondary schools.
Kyle Nettleton, Museum Officer
Kyle is our new Museum Officer. A Bunjalung man and Northern Beaches local, Kyle has a passion for sharing Aboriginal culture with people who don’t experience or interact with it on a regular basis. As Museum Officer Kyle is looking forward to informing people on Aboriginal history and the amazing stories, art, artefacts, history, connectivity and presence within it.
Come and meet Kyle and have a yarn at the Museum on Wednesdays between 9.30am and 3.30pm.