Jo McDonald is the Director, Centre for Rock Art Research + Management, University of Western Australia.
The destruction of 46,000-year-old Juukan Gorge sites in the Pilbara has created great distress for their traditional owners, seismic shockwaves for heritage professionals and appalled the general public.
The fallout for Rio Tinto has been profound as has the groundswell of criticism of Western Australia’s outdated heritage laws. A path forward must ensure a pivotal role for Indigenous communities and secure Keeping Places for heritage items. More broadly, we need more Indigenous places added to the National Heritage List, ensuring them the highest form of heritage protection.
In a state heavily dependent on mining, the model for this could follow the successful seven-year heritage collaboration I have been part of on-country with Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation (MAC) and Rio Tinto in the Dampier Archipelago (Murujuga).
As Director of the Centre for Rock Art Research and Management at the University of Western Australia, I am funded to undertake research supported by Rio Tinto’s conservation agreement with the Commonwealth.
This Rio Tinto funding enables research documenting the significant scientific and community values of the archipelago, feeding into the management of this estate by MAC, who represent the local coastal Pilbara groups. It also resources Indigenous rangers and trains undergraduate students.
For the rest of this article: https://theconversation.com/can-a-mining-state-be-pro-heritage-vital-steps-to-avoid-another-juukan-gorge-146211