DIA – Holding onto Indigenous sites of importance

The mining boom state of Western Australia has a small team of dedicated and hard-working staff who seek to preserve Western Australia’s rich cultural history. As part of my Graduate Diploma of Archaeology, I am doing an internship. Understanding the act, analysis of reports and the development of a Powerpoint presentation has been the majority of content that I have learnt for the first thirty hours.

Today I went to the ACMC meeting which looks at the archaeological reports and suggests whether they are adequate to proceed with destruction after taking into account the regulations that are in place. Most importantly I have felt as part of the team rather than someone who is on a practicum. I have to think and work independently with some advice from the Senior Heritage Officers (which all have a degree of some sort in the heritage discipline).

The level of respect to all people in the department is quite amazing with their flexible approach to start times and lunch hours. Other than this I find seeing the archaeology consultancy reports on the other side incredibly valuable for today and into the future. If I work in Western Australia I will have an understanding of what I should consult, I will have a strong understanding of the Heritage Act and I would have sat in ACMC deliberations on the reports that had been prepared by the Department of Indigenous Affairs. I have also seen how they register sites and the strong adherence to protocols in terms of respecting male only sites with males registering the site, which intern reflects the seriousness that DIA take in the preservation of our Indigenous heritage.

This sense of being part of the team, even if it is only for 120 hours allows me to have priceless experience of the day-to-day working environment of a Senior Heritage Officer in Western Australia. With another three blog postings to go, I think by the end of my practicum I will be well experienced with the act, the role of the DIA and to actually construct a consultancy report that is in the interests of the DIA, which will save time for both the department and client.

The need to have precise and clear archaeological reports is critical for the department and it seems many reports are simply not of the standard for the ACMC committee to support, with many deferred for new responses being initiated.

Certainly a very worthwhile practicum to understand Western Australia’s legislation that protects Indigenous sites as well as to get valuable experience in how the DIA assess the reports that archaeologists deliver.

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