Management of coastal Aboriginal cultural heritage sites

Mr Ross Stanger1

1Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania, Hobart, Australia


Aboriginal people have lived in Tasmania for at least 40,000 years. Throughout this time Aboriginal people managed and modified the landscape, successfully adapting to significant environmental changes including substantial temperature and sea level variations. Archaeological evidence of Aboriginal occupation includes a large number of coastal cultural heritage sites including extensive shell middens, rock markings and artefact scatters. Effective ongoing management of these coastal cultural heritage sites is challenging as cultural activities, natural processes and the effects of climate change have the capacity to adversely impact the condition and integrity of the sites and the surrounding landscape. These challenges are compounded by the geographic isolation of many cultural heritage sites and availability of funding for their management.

Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania (AHT) plays an important role in the effective management, recognition and protection of these coastal cultural heritage sites in collaboration and partnership with the Tasmanian Aboriginal community. This presentation will outline the roles and responsibilities of AHT, the Tasmanian legislative framework, and the challenges and constraints relating to effective management of Aboriginal cultural heritage sites in Tasmania. It will also examine case studies of current and future projects which aim to ensure the effective ongoing management of coastal Aboriginal cultural heritage sites.


Ross Stanger is an archaeologist within the Cultural Management Group of Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania. Ross has 15 years of experience within cultural heritage management and has been employed as an archaeologist and cultural heritage adviser in a numerous roles throughout Australia and the United Kingdom.

About the Association

The Australian Coastal Society (ACS) was initiated at the Coast to Coast Conference in Tasmania in 2004. The idea was floated as a means for those interested in coastal matters to communicate between conferences and where possible take resolutions of the conference to appropriate levels of government.

The idea was discussed further at the Coast to Coast Conference in Melbourne in 2006 and it was agreed that Bruce Thom develop a constitution of a company limited by guarantee that would operate on a national basis.

This plan was accomplished and in 2008 at the Coast to Coast Conference in Darwin the constitution was ratified and an Executive appointed. The company received charitable status in 2011.

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