Caring For Country Committee – A Working Group of Australia ICOMOS

The role of the Caring For Country Committee, a working group of Australia ICOMOS, is to create a conversation around the issues arising in Oceania on climate change and the impacts for Indigenous people on country and culture. The Caring For Country Committee will engage with these issues over 3 years through development of a series of webinars from mid-2021, followed by a workshop at the ICOMOS GA2023.

The Caring For Country Committee is an Oceania-wide committee, including Indigenous and non-Indigenous members from ICOMOS, as well as non-ICOMOS members.

Co-Convenor: Helen Wilson (email) (Australia ICOMOS)
Co-Convenor: Kerime Danis (email) (Australia ICOMOS)

Candida Rolla (ICOMOS NZ)
Catherine Forbes (Australia ICOMOS)
Diane Menzies (ICOMOS NZ)
Elizabeth Edwards (ICOMOS Pasifika)
Marcy Rockman 
Sarah Forgesson
Steve Brown (Australia ICOMOS)

The Caring For Country Committee was established in 2020 and endorsed by the Australia ICOMOS Executive Committee as a working group of Australia ICOMOS in 2021.

Our members are also actively involved in other related ICOMOS International Scientific Committees (ISCs) and Working Groups and Reference Groups, including the ICOMOS Climate Change and Heritage Working Group (CCHWG), ISC on Risk Preparedness (ICORP), International Scientific Committee on Energy and Sustainability (ISCES), as well as Australia ICOMOS committees such as the National Scientific Committee on Energy and Sustainability (NSCES), Pacific Heritage Reference Group, Climate Change and Cultural Heritage Working Group, and the World Heritage Reference Group.

The Caring For Country Committee was established to organise a workshop as a side event to the ICOMOS GA2020: Caring For Country: Pacific and Indigenous Voices on Culture, Heritage and the Climate Crisis. This workshop was to be a space for Indigenous Pacific people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island voices on cultural heritage as human right and on caring for places and community in a changing climate, as well as for discussing partnerships and solidarity with the global cultural heritage community.

“The Future of Our Pasts: Engaging cultural heritage in climate action” ICOMOS 2019, notes:

Indigenous people are among the most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change because, among other reasons, their existence is often inextricably tied to the land. As a result, indigenous advocates have been amongst the first to make the point that climate change threatens not only landscapes but also cultural identity.

The organisation of the workshop, begun by Andrew Potts (CCHWG) in 2018-2019, was carried on by the Caring For Country Committee. When GA2020 was postponed because of global events the Committee was well underway organising the workshop, speakers and delegates.

To keep the conversation going, make contact with others interested, and in solidarity and support for Indigenous people in Australia and the Pacific dealing with these issues, the Committee decided to hold a series of webinars with some of our keynotes and speakers.

The 2021-2022 webinar series on Caring for Country combines interests in Indigenous heritage, Cultural landscape and Climate Change in the Pacific and Australia. Organised through ICOMOS and available on the ICOMOS website, the webinar series extends the idea of a workshop on Caring for Country and climate change, with work on Indigenous heritage as a theme through the GA2020 Scientific Symposium Indigenous Heritage Theme co-chair Diane Menzies (Rongowhaata/Aitanga a māhaki), and participants from Australia, Aotearoa NZ and Pasifika.

The Caring for Country webinars each attracted around 150 registrations and more than 100 attendees and led to hosting a Panel session ‘Ignite Pacific’: Climate change, culture and peace in the Pacific region as part of the ICCROM Climate.Culture.Peace conference.

The webinar series and the ‘Ignite Pacific’ session have resulted in a great collaboration of different community groups and the exploration of a variety of different Indigenous and traditional practices, through multiple and very successful events held on different platforms and organisations with a worldwide audience. It has allowed a voice for Indigenous people in the region and created a conversation around the issues arising in Oceania on climate change and the impacts for Indigenous people on country and culture.

These online events have allowed for the discussion to continue in the leadup to GA2023 in Sydney, where we will hold a face to face Caring For Country workshop drawing on the outcomes of these webinars and the ‘Ignite Pacific’ session.

Webinars

Newsletters

2022 ‘Ignite Pacific’: Climate change, culture and peace in the Pacific region panel session

Watch the recording of the Ignite Pacific session at the ICCROM Climate.Culture.Peace Conference at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xx4KFhkhMuc&t=36s

Awards

Congratulations to the Caring for Country Committee, a Working Group of Australia ICOMOS, for receiving this award for the ‘Caring for Country In a Climate Crisis Webinar Series’. On behalf of the Committee, the Co-Convenors Helen Wilson and Kerime Danis thank all Presenters and Elders for generously sharing their knowledge and wisdom for a climate chance.