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 as at June 2021 is an active committee from Oceania, 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)
EC Representative: Caitlin Mitropoulos (Australia ICOMOS)

Anne Ford (University of Otago, NZ)
Anita Smith (Australia ICOMOS)
Anne Poelina (Chair, Martuwarra Fitzroy River Council)
Candida Rolla (ICOMOS NZ)
Catherine Forbes (Australia ICOMOS)
Diane Menzies (ICOMOS NZ)
Elizabeth Edwards (ICOMOS Pasifika)
Ellie Peedom (mentee, 2020 NSW AI Mentoring Program)
(Waskam) Emelda Davis (Chair, Australian South Sea Islanders, Port Jackson)
Geoff Ashley (Australia ICOMOS)
Jaye Cook (Australia ICOMOS)
Marie Geissler (Australia ICOMOS)
Adi Meretui Ratunabuabua (ICOMOS Pasifika)
Samara Allen (access to AI Corporate membership)
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.

This new webinar series on Caring for Country starting in mid-2021 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 webinar series will allow a voice for Indigenous people in the region and for the discussion to continue in the leadup to GA2023 in Sydney, where we intend to organise a face to face Caring For Country workshop.