Aboriginal Heritage Council Meeting

The Aboriginal Heritage Council met for their regular monthly meeting on Friday 24 November 2023 in Hobart.‚Äč

The Aboriginal Heritage Council considered four permit applications under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1975. The Council agreed not to oppose two applications and requested further information regarding the other two applications.

The Council were briefed by the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG) regarding recent test pitting undertaken in conjunction with the proposed development of new facilities at the Gardens. The test-pitting program aimed to clearly define the nature and extent of significant Aboriginal heritage present in the Gardens. The results of the test-pitting led to updates to the site boundary and reworked design plans to minimise impacts to Aboriginal heritage. 
The Council expressed their strong view that the cultural significance of the area was at a landscape level, rather than at the scale of individual sites. However, the Council commended the RTBG for considering Tasmanian Aboriginal heritage values as a key component of the design process, rather than an afterthought. Council also noted that that there was opportunity for further Aboriginal heritage survey work in the area, guided by Aboriginal people, to increase knowledge and to share with Community, rather than simply undertaking the work to inform development.

Given the intensely colonial history of the RTBG, particularly the period of stewardship by the Royal Society of Tasmania, the Council noted the current development approach could represent a new chapter in the recent history of the area. The Council encouraged the Botanic Gardens to use this opportunity for truth telling and decolonisation.

The next Aboriginal Heritage Council meeting will be on Friday 15 December 2023 in Hobart.