In the last three years Australia has witnessed unprecedented floods, cyclones and bushfires and destruction from the forces of nature is becoming more frequent and with greater consequences.
Our cultural heritage is precious to us as individuals, as local communities, as regions and as a nation. Cultural heritage is very much about those things which have meaning for people and communities – those things which demonstrate their past, whether they be books and documents, buildings, cultural landscapes, archaeological sites or museum objects. A community’s cultural heritage is a fundamental part of its way of life, history, traditions, civilization and identity. It contributes substantially to a community’s long-term economic sustainability, stability and welfare and provides the strength of will for people to live, recover and grow after trauma. There are many tales of appreciation and joy when affected people have recovered even small, but precious, objects often holding sole memories and important associations.
While understanding that the highest priorities must be accorded to humanitarian activities following a disaster, of significant concern also is the fate of cultural heritage. A delay in an appropriate emergency response inevitably leads to irreparable damage, diminished or complete loss of recovery capacity of cultural items, ongoing physical degradation and potential looting. Where regional networks of cultural institutions exist they have been be very effective in providing timely and effective aid to assist local and remote communities to repatriate and rehabilitate cultural items affected in a disaster.
For its MayDay 2012 campaign, Blue Shield Australia is organising a series of free regional workshops around Australia, to promote local co-operative agreements around disaster preparedness, planning, response and recovery. The aim of these workshops is to build networks, including emergency response personnel, where they do not exist presently and to examine existing network models so that they may be adapted for adoption in other regions.
The workshops are free but places are limited, so early registration is advised. We hope to see you on the day. Please see the flyer for more information or contact Donna McDowell by phone 1300 313 443 or email email@example.com