I have great pleasure in advising Australia ICOMOS members and friends that last Friday in Melbourne we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Australian Council of National Trusts and the Federation of Historical Societies, for the intent of undertaking joint and coordinated advocacy activities to raise the profile and priority for Australia’s cultural heritage places. We have called this arrangement ‘The Australian Heritage Partnership’. We believe the creation of such a partnership is timely, particularly in the context of the development of a proposed National Heritage Strategy and the escalation of concerns regarding the profile and resourcing of cultural heritage.
Our three organisations have the shared interest and demonstrated ongoing capacity to contribute to this new partnership. Recent discussions recognised that the time is right to formalise what is a well-established but otherwise ad-hoc liaison. We understand that the Federal Minister with responsibility for Heritage is unlikely to convene a replacement for his predecessor’s Ministerial Advisory Group and we believe that establishing a proactive ‘coalition’ with other peak heritage bodies would allow a weightier voice in those areas where we share a common policy and concern.
Of course, this MoU allows each group to continue to speak independently for their own broader interests and membership.
It is also important to emphasise that The Australian Heritage Partnership is a relationship between the stated three groups only and that the partnership does not – and indeed cannot – speak for any other heritage body. The partnership is not intended to exclude other cultural heritage organisations from advocacy – indeed such activities are welcome. However, at this stage, a smaller number of the active organisations building on an established relationship and shared interests and policies seems the appropriate initial step to take. As the partnership proves successful, and if other organisations are interested in making a substantial commitment, then the range of organisations may be expanded. But it is not anticipated that a partnership as big as the former National Cultural Heritage Forum could be sustained.
President, Australia ICOMOS
Click on the link below to read the media release that was distributed late yesterday.