Aboriginal Heritage Office Staff
David Watts, Aboriginal Heritage Manager
David has been the Aboriginal Heritage Manager since 1999. In that time the Aboriginal Heritage Office has grown 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, Archaeologist
Phil has been an archaeological adviser and consultant to the Aboriginal Heritage Office since 2003. He has over 25 years experience in all aspects of Aboriginal heritage management. Phil’s role involves 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, Heritage Officer
Susan is an archaeologist with nearly 20 years’ experience working with Aboriginal heritage across NSW, working closely with Aboriginal communities on heritage issues and through the repatriation of ancestral remains. She is enthused by education and sharing her passion with young people.
Samaka Isaacs, Museum Education Officer
Samaka is the Aboriginal Heritage Office’s museum officer. He has diverse experience in education from running cultural programs in Juvenile Justice Centres and high schools to leading bush tucker walks and talks around Sydney with the Royal Botanic Gardens. He is a Wailwan man but has a strong connection with Sydney.
Samaka looks after the museum and takes care of exhibits inside as well as the bush tucker garden outside. A tour with Samaka highlights the Indigenous knowledge of many different nations and their customs, combined with interactive learning exhibits and artefacts from across Australia. He provides a vivid insight into Indigenous Australian culture. Samaka is excited to share his experiences and cultural knowledge with everyone who visits.
Claire Rayner, Archaeologist
Claire has many years’ experience in the private sector as a heritage consultant and field archaeologist. Claire has also extensive experience undertaking heritage assessments across NSW, Victoria, WA, SA and ACT. This includes all levels of Aboriginal cultural heritage assessment in NSW from Due Diligence to code of practice assessments to salvage archaeological programs. Her experience also includes providing heritage advice under the EPBC Act, State legislation and under local planning instruments.