Interviewee: Sally MacLennan
What issue or issues is/are your community facing right now?
Like a lot of places around the world, the perceived tension between development and heritage conservation continues to be a factor in Australia. I see the archaeology and heritage community (both professional and non-professional) facing a challenge around how to better engage and interest new audiences. In particular, I think the official canon of heritage and archaeology in Australia is often not representative of the diversity of Australian experiences and this can contribute to obstacles in appealing to the broader community about the value and interesting stories that underpin our heritage.
Please share a strategy that you have developed to approach, consult, mitigate, and resolve a challenging issue in your community.
Recently techniques of collaborative project design, involving diverse groups from different levels of government, community interest groups and owners and managers of heritage places have been quite effective in addressing some of these tensions at a local level. New creative approaches to sharing and managing heritage such as using virtual reality technology to engage young (and old!) audiences and actively seeking input from communities and individuals at the project design stage to reframe the ‘cult of the expert’ have been some methods that have emerged from these co-design processes.
What is the existing framework for community members to vocalize concerns and have them addressed by the appropriate state/federal/tribal agency?
There are mechanisms built in to a number of local, state and federal planning and legislative processes for members of the community to object to certain proposals. Going to the media or political representatives can also be an effective way to raise the profile of certain concerns as well!
How has your cultural heritage shaped and/or influenced your professional career?
I’m not sure! Working in Australia I’m now more conscious of the diversity of cultural heritage here, including that of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and of the plethora migrant communities. Maybe it’s the cultural legacy of telling yarns, or just my interest in novels when I was younger, but now I’m drawn to the stories and emotions behind places and things and seem to look for opportunities to be able to explore them in my professional life.
Sally is an archaeologist and heritage professional based in regional New South Wales.
Questions from Regina Hilo in Hawaii, USA.
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