Aboriginal Heritage Study for the Woollahra Municipality

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Aboriginal Heritage Study for the Woollahra Municipality
    Local history

Published 9 October 2020

Upcoming Woollahra Aboriginal Heritage Talks

We are running a series of online talks on the Woollahra Aboriginal Heritage Study, which is being undertaken by Coast History & Heritage and the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council.

The first talk is being held on Tuesday 13 October 2020 from 12.00 – 1.00pm. Hear from Coast’s historian and archaeologist, Dr Paul Irish, who has been researching both ancient and continuing Aboriginal connections to the Woollahra area for over a decade.

Register for this free online talk.

Woollahra Aboriginal Heritage Study

Woollahra has a long and rich Aboriginal heritage which continues to be valued by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people today. Traces of that heritage can be found throughout Woollahra but are often unrecognised and unacknowledged. Our Community Strategic Plan Woollahra – 2030. Our community, our place, our plan presents a long-term vision for Woollahra. Reconciliation through acknowledging, researching and sharing the area’s Aboriginal history and heritage of Woollahra is a significant component of Council’s goals to have a ‘creative and vibrant community’ and to ‘have a connected, harmonious and engaged community.’

Woollahra Council has engaged Aboriginal Heritage Consultants Coast History & Heritage to work closely with the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council in undertaking an Aboriginal Heritage Study for the Woollahra Municipality.

The study will provide Council with a much better understanding of the Aboriginal history and heritage of Woollahra; where traces of that history are known, and where others are likely to be. It will also provide Council with a recommended strategy for managing known and undocumented Aboriginal heritage. This will influence management of future development in the LGA and promote greater awareness of local Aboriginal heritage in the community and across Council in a culturally appropriate manner.

The study will take place over the next 12 months. It includes inspections of registered Aboriginal sites in both private and public property in consultation with the local Aboriginal community.

Records of some of these sites are on official registers as well as local historical records. Others may only be known to local residents. The consultant team includes historian and archaeologist Dr Paul Irish who has researched the Aboriginal history of the eastern suburbs for his 2017 book Hidden In Plain View: The Aboriginal People of Coastal Sydney. Dr Irish is interested to hear from any local residents who have information about the area’s Aboriginal history and heritage.

You can contact Heritage Officer Flavia Scardamaglia via email for further information.

Frequently Asked Questions

These Frequently Asked Questions provide some further information about the study in general. They also provide specific information for those landowners who have been contacted by Council in relation to previously recorded Aboriginal sites that may be on their property.

  1. What is the purpose of this Study
    • The purpose of this Study is to assist Council in developing a management strategy to help identify and protect Aboriginal heritage in the Woollahra Local Government Area. Woollahra has a long and rich Aboriginal heritage which is important to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. However, Aboriginal sites are often unrecognised or unacknowledged.

      The Study will also provide Council with a much better understanding of the Aboriginal history and heritage of Woollahra, importantly determining where sites of Aboriginal historical significance are located. This information will help form a recommended strategy for managing known and undocumented Aboriginal heritage within the Woollahra LGA.

      Finally, obtaining a more accurate understanding of where Aboriginal sites are located within the Woollahra LGA will provide greater clarity for potential future development on both public and private land. This will help future applicants determine whether or not an Aboriginal heritage assessment is required as part of the development application process.
  2. Do I have to grant Council access to my land for the inspection?
    • No. Council will first seek consent from the owners of any properties where it is believed there may be a previously recorded Aboriginal site.

      Whilst Council would greatly appreciate owners’ permission to inspect the external areas of land where an Aboriginal site may be located, various legislation prohibits Council staff and appointed consultants from entering private land for the purpose of exercising Council’s functions where that land is used for residential purposes. However, as discussed further below, this inspection will help to ensure Aboriginal heritage is protected and will result in greater clarity for future development proposals within the property.

      Please note that the inspection will not involve any digging or excavation.
  3. What happens if an Aboriginal heritage site is identified on my land?
    • If a previously recorded Aboriginal site is found to be located within your property, Council and its consultants will ensure that the records of the site will be updated on the official NSW Government register of Aboriginal sites (the Aboriginal Heritage Information Management System). Advice can also be provided on how to mitigate impact, avoid damage and explain pathways of approval for potential future development.
  4. How might this Study impact any future development on my land?
    • If your property is located on land with sensitive landform or contains an Aboriginal site, you will be required to submit an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Assessment as part of any future development applications . Aboriginal Heritage Impact Assessments are prepared by qualified Aboriginal heritage consultants in consultation with La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council. The purpose of this assessment is to determine whether an Aboriginal site could be impacted by proposed future development.

      The inspection we are proposing as part of the Aboriginal Heritage Study will provide the opportunity to have a consultant undertake this assessment of your land at Council’s expense. If the previously recorded Aboriginal site, or other Aboriginal sites or potential Aboriginal sites are located within your property, Council’s consultant will provide advice on how to mitigate impact, avoid damage and explain pathways of approval for potential future development.

      If the previously recorded Aboriginal site is not found in your property, and no other Aboriginal sites or potential Aboriginal sites are located, then you may not be required to submit an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Assessment in relation to any development application proposals in the future. This would potentially save you both time and money.

      [1] For a fill list of sensitive landform, Council relies on the definition given at page 12 of the Due Diligence Code of Practice for the Protection of Aboriginal Objects in New South Wales.

  5. Can I provide input into the Study?
    • Yes. We invite anyone with knowledge of Woollahra’s history and heritage to provide information to enhance the outcomes of the study.
      To share your knowledge, please make a written submission quoting ‘SC5932 Submission’ by emailing records@woollahra.nsw.gov.au or by sending a letter addressed to the General Manager at Woollahra Council, PO Box 61, Double Bay NSW 1360. Written submissions can be made until 30 November 2020.
  6. Where can I find more information on Aboriginal Heritage?
    • Council and our Aboriginal heritage consultants will also be hosting a series of online talks about the study, Aboriginal history and heritage more broadly in Woollahra. These talks will commence in October 2020 and details will be posted on Council’s website as they become available. Alternatively you can subscribe to Woollahra Library News to receive updates regarding these talks.

      For more information, please refer to the Heritage NSW website.

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