Heritage Strategy More Inclusive of First Inhabitants

An updated version of The City of Newcastle Heritage Strategy has put more emphasis on  original inhabitants: the Awabakal and Worimi people.

In 2019-2020, 20 of 37 works purchased for the Newcastle Art Gallery collection were by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander artists. This was one of those works. 1.

It notes their early encounters with European settlers and subsequent history of dispossession, as well as the reconciliatory 2016 recognition by the Geographical Names Board of eight places and landmarks with dual Aboriginal names.

The Strategy includes a rich portfolio of local conservation areas and buildings of character and heritage significance

Our city has a unique mix of heritage conservation areas, archaeological sites, heritage-listed buildings and places that are recognised and protected for their character and heritage significance,” Councillor Peta Winney-Baartz said.

The Awabakal and Worimi peoples, descendants of the traditional owners of the land, have ties dating back tens of thousands of years, and this updated strategy better considers their ancient and ongoing connection as well as their hardships since settlement in a fitting, unvarnished history.

This is important because Newcastle is home to one of Australia’s largest Aboriginal populations, a diverse community drawn from many language groups which identify with, foster and protect their distinctive cultures, beliefs and languages through connection to land and each other.

The new strategy emphasises our rich Aboriginal and European heritage and the important role the City’s public exhibitions and performances play at our museum, art gallery, libraries and theatres, all of which celebrate our cultural heritage.”

The updated heritage strategy also builds on the Newcastle 2030 Community Strategic Plan (CSP).

Through the CSP, the Newcastle community strongly expressed its wish for local heritage to be valued, enhanced and celebrated.

This heritage strategy allows Council to articulate a framework for achieving this vision, and to meet its statutory responsibilities.”

Community input will be considered when the draft Heritage Strategy 2020-2030 is finalised by Council later this year. People can review the draft strategy and have their say at www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au until Monday 13 July.

1 Toby CEDAR Op Nor Beizam (Shark Mask) White 2018. Bamboo cane, twine, raffia, pearl shell, acrylic paint, feather. 80.0 x 56.0 x 31.0 cm. Les Renfrew Bequest, 2019  ~ Courtesy the artist.