Chris Johnston
Heritage Specialist


Chris Johnston is the founder of Context Pty Ltd.

She is a strategic planner who specialises in heritage and community planning projects. She has skills in strategic thinking, policy analysis and development, and is solutions oriented in her approach. She has more than 35 years’ experience in heritage consulting. Chris is now a director of Calendia, an independent heritage consultancy. She continues as a GML Special Adviser as well as undertaking projects on her own behalf or with La Trobe University where she is an Honorary Research Associate. Chris has expertise in social and aesthetic values assessment, in working with communities and documenting their values, and in interpreting people’s relationship to place. She brings her facilitation skills to all her work, seeking to engage people effectively. She often works with Aboriginal communities and organisations.

Chris has a national reputation for her work on developing and applying social significance methods. Her paper What is Social Value? published by the Australian Heritage Commission in 1992, has become a standard reference on the assessment of social value. Since then, she has delivered nearly 90 projects that include the assessment of social values. Chris has spoken and written extensively at professional conferences and in journals about approaches to understanding social values and working with associated communities. Chris has also contributed in the field of community-held aesthetic values for National Heritage assessments: examples include the National Heritage aesthetic values for the City of Broken Hill (NSW) and the Tarkine (TAS), and the Great Barrier Reef as part of a review of its Outstanding Universal Value.


Download Chris’ CV


‘Places are powerful: they evoke memories and stories. Every place is loved by someone. Researching people’s connections to their place is a real privilege.’


Master of Environmental Science, Monash University

Graduate Diploma, Local and Applied History, Armidale College of Advanced Education

Bachelor of Arts (Political Sociology), University of Melbourne

Diploma of Arts (Ceramics), Australian National University


Honorary Research Fellow, Deakin University

Australia ICOMOS

Planning Institute of Australia

International Association for Public Participation

Professional Historians Association (VIC)

ICOMOS International Committee on Intangible Heritage

Australia ICOMOS Burra Charter Working Group, 2012–2013