One of the most important tasks of the AHO has been reviewing the Aboriginal heritage planning function of each Council and setting up new and improved systems. The legislative responsibility for the protection of Aboriginal heritage in NSW remains with the Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC), however, as a land manager and approval body, Councils have responsibilities to protect Aboriginal heritage. As environmental planning legislation requires local government to consider Aboriginal heritage as part of the environmental impact assessment process, it is important that there are clear policies and procedures in place, backed with staff who are trained in how to implement them. As Aboriginal heritage has generally been poorly understood in NSW, this task requires regular reinforcement. The main focus of the Office has been in updating information about the known Aboriginal heritage resource, planning for potential Aboriginal sites, and training staff and the local community.
The AHO has run many guided walks as well as producing brochures for self-guided walks. The AHO also employs other guides on a casual basis to run guided walks.
Guided walks are designed to suit the audience. Themes have included Reconciliation, Bush Tucker, Bush Regeneration, Aboriginal Language, Archaeological Sites, Site Management & Protection, Environmental Planning, even a Spotlight tour, as well as more general Aboriginal heritage and culture walks for local residents. Guided walks have been held within each of the six local Councils such as at Blackman Park and Warraroon Reserve (Lane Cove), Balls Head and Berry Island (North Sydney), Mowbray Park and Flat Rock Creek (Willoughby), Manly Dam and Bantry Bay (Warringah), Shelly Beach and Bantry Bay (Manly) and Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden (Ku-ring-gai).
Words from Jessica C,
In a day and age when Global Climate Change is fast moving up the political agenda, the implications for Aboriginal heritage sites has received relatively little attention. A group of final year students from Macquarie University is currently working on a project that is using GIS to model the potential impact of future sea level rise on Aboriginal sites in estuarine foreshore zones. As with other vulnerable coastal ecosystems and infrastructure, Aboriginal sites are likely to be significantly impacted, facing severe erosion, particularly of middens sites, and complete loss of many sites over the next 100 years. The final results of this study should be very interesting and informative!
A word or two from a Hippy
Aboriginal people have survived every climatic shift, bump and wobble that has been thrown at them for over 60,000 years. With an intimate knowledge of the land and waters, the flora and fauna, the weather and seasons, the elders of each tribe used this knowledge to guide new generations across an unimaginably long time span. In contrast, the new arrivals from the First Fleet had polluted their main source of water within 2 years. 60,000 years of knowledge and experience compared with just over 200 years. Who has the most to learn about this land we call home? Perhaps by working together we can use the knowledge of Indigenous cultures with the advanced technologies of modern science to return to habits that respect the land and environment for the long term benefit of all beings that depend on them.
I am born of the land, my soul is the sun
Nature is my mother, I am Mother Nature’s son
The wind is my spirit, running wild, running free
Water is my mirror, reflecting visions in me
I am like a great river that slowly runs dry
Polluted and abused, I am the river – slowly – I die
I am a child of the earth created from dust
I live for this land, taking only what I must
Except from poem By Stephen Clayton 1993