At GML, we feel privileged to learn from and work with Aboriginal people throughout NSW and Australia in the management, conservation and interpretation of their cultural heritage across a range of projects.
This year, National Reconciliation Week (29 May—3 June 2017) marks the anniversary of two turning points in our nation’s history with the 1967 Referendum and the 1992 Mabo decision.
It is also an opportunity to ponder when the next steps in the management and conservation of Aboriginal cultural heritage in NSW might be formally pronounced.
We hope that the long-anticipated NSW government reform of Aboriginal cultural heritage management takes a ‘great leap forward’ towards recognising and protecting the rights and interests of Aboriginal people in land, sea and Country. Since the National Parks and Wildlife Act (NSW) first included provisions for the protection of Aboriginal heritage in the 1970s, the overwhelming focus in the context of environment impact assessment has been on ‘stones and bones’. While there is no denying the significance of such evidence, it is the lived experiences, values, meanings and rights and interests of Aboriginal people that warrant particular care and attention in land use planning. At GML, we trust that the state government’s next steps will be in that direction.
Aboriginal Heritage Management Plan for Baiame Cave
GML is fortunate to be working on a Conservation Heritage Management Plan for a very special Aboriginal Place, Baiame Cave. As part of the preparation of the plan, we are collaborating with Stepwise, members of the local Aboriginal community, a working group and the support of the Office of Environment and Heritage.
The Baiame Cave is a rare and representative rock art site in NSW. It contains an impressive painted depiction of Baiame and many other Aboriginal motifs. Baiame is the creator of Country recognised as significant to Aboriginal people throughout NSW. The cave’s rock art was recorded and published by the Royal Society of New South Wales in an award-winning paper (pictured) by anthropologist and surveyor RH Mathews in 1893.
The cultural significance of the cave to Aboriginal people is recognised through its dedication as an Aboriginal Place. It is also included on the NSW State Heritage Register.
In preparing the management plan, some of the key issues that will be explored will include actions and works to conserve the significance of the site, visitor management, opportunities for interpretation and ongoing maintenance and monitoring.
To foster cultural awareness, we encourage our employees to engage in programs with Aboriginal communities. GML Corporate Services Manager Claire Geary spent a week at Yuelamu, a community of around 190 people located about 300km northwest of Alice Springs. Claire volunteered her time with the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy (NASCA) ‘Athletes and Role Models’ program. She worked alongside young Aboriginal members of the community sharing her skills in sport, scouting and music and in turn experienced local cuisine, music and games.