Rich Rewards: Cultural Diversity and Heritage Practice
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Report on the Albury-Wodonga Migration Heritage Workshop

Held Friday September 7, 1999

At the Commercial Club Albury

From 9.30am - 4pm

The Albury-Wodonga Migration Heritage Workshop was attended by

Daniella Bangazov, Art BosmanPeter Butko,Claude Burk, Nino Clamer, Luca Stewart Cristinti, Elaris DeSilva, Herman Blom, Pheng Bounsombath , Werner Felke

Slavko Gorupic, George Kotsuros, John Mamootil, Tony Newland, Bruce Pennay, Mara Ronald, George Veneris, Roko Vlasic, Natasha Woods, Diana Zmajer

Workshop Facilitator Kate Rea

On Thursday September 7 representatives of many of Albury-Wodonga's ethnic communities took advantage of a unique opportunity to create greater recognition for their heritage at the Albury-Wodonga Migration Heritage Workshop.

The workshop was held as part of the Migration Heritage Community Consultation Program. This program has been designed to encourage more culturally diverse heritage practices in NSW and ensure that the experiences and contributions of ethnic communities are recognised and celebrated as an integral part of the State's history. This cross-cultural program is being managed by Kate Rea, in the New South Wales Heritage Office and is funded by the Migration Heritage Centre, the centre being a NSW Government Initiative through a partnership of the Premier's Department, Ministry for the Arts, Ethnic Affairs Commission and the Heritage Office.

The aims of the workshop were three fold:

To encourage awareness, identification and preservation of the heritage of ethnic communities from their own cultural perspectives.

To develop partnerships between individuals and organisations across the community that have valuable contributions to make to heritage.

To recommend models of consultation methods for application in further programs.

With a diverse community supported by many different periods of migration Albury was chosen as the site of the first of four workshops in the program. Representatives of the Greek, Laotion, Filipino, German Ukrainian, Dutch, Maori and Croatian communities all responded to the widely distributed invitation to participate. Roko Vlasic, of Albury-Wodonga Ethnic Community Council provided invaluable support, helping to link the NSW Heritage Office with the diverse community. Representatives of Albury City Council and the Albury-Wodonga Historical Society also took up this opportunity to initiate new partnerships with ethnic communities.

The workshop began with a short presentation Luca Stewart Crisanti from the NSW Heritage Office. Luca described the role of the Heritage Office in ensuring that the state's heritage is appropriately conserved through;

Loosely defining heritage as those places, sites and items that are important or significant to our communities, Luca continued that these might be places of work or workshop, they could also be places of recreation, such as a social club, dance hall or park. They might reflect one group's contribution to the development of the community or a skill specific to your community. Heritage is that which the community values and wants to keep and protect for future generations.

Tony Newland, Town Planner, Albury City Council gave a brief presentation on heritage in Albury. He identified some of the items that are protected by Albury's Local Environment Plan because of their significance to the local community. The Albion Hotel in Dean Street was one Example. Other items, including the Albury Railway Station are listed on the State Heritage Inventory as items of significance to the people of New South Wales.

Introducing the Migration Heritage Community Consultation Program Kate Rea noted that migrant communities from non-English speaking backgrounds have contributed enormously to the development of rural and regional communities across that state. However there has been little recognition of their contributions in the listings of local and state heritage items, or in the contents of local museums. The Albury-Wodonga workshop is a first step in creating heritage practices that reflect that state's cultural diversity. It was emphasised that the workshop would use consultation as a method to identify items of significance to ethnic communities. The day had been planned so that participants could develop skills to begin the process of identifying and assessing heritage items from their own cultural perspectives.

Following these presentations participants were invited to form pairs and go out and photograph the items or sites that are important to their communities. To ensure that ethnic communities both past and present were represented in out study, historians Bruce Pennay and Claude Burk were given the task of photographing some of the heritage material belonging to ethnic communities longer lived in Albury-Wodonga.

All of the photographs, developed over lunch, showed a wonderful range of items identified and began to reveal the depth of Albury's cultural diversity. The process assessing the items began after the lunch break. This involved pasting the photographs onto board and writing a short caption underneath. It was suggested that the caption could state why the item was significant to the community or why it was significant to migration. In this way participants began to assess the significance of the items to their communities.

Each board was then pasted up to form an exhibition that begins to reveal the heritage of Albury-Wodonga's ethnic communities. The exhibition was the centre point for a discussion and further assessment of the heritage places. Some of the places identified included;

A list of additional sites was developed during the discussion and is included with the photographs. This list identifies sites that the participants held to be significant but were not able to be photographed in the workshop time frame.

List of additional sites identified

The photographs and list have been lodged with Albury City Council for inclusion in an upcoming heritage study in the year 2000.

At the end of the workshop the participants agreed that they would like to continue to develop the skills and initiatives raised at the workshop by forming an Ethnic Heritage Committee. It was proposed that the Committee undertake the important role of ensuring that heritage items significant to ethnic communities are recognised and protected for future generations to enjoy. It would also serve as a point of consultation, to ensure that the perspectives of ethnic communities are considered in all relevant heritage decisions.

To achieve these aims it was suggested the members of the Committee would represent Albury-Wodonga's ethnic communities as well as individuals and organisations that contribute to heritage, including museums and local government. It was agreed that invitations to participate in the Albury-Wodonga Ethnic Heritage Committee should be issued at a public meeting on Friday October , from 10am - 12 pm. To ensure that the heritage of all communities is reflected in the outcomes and activities of the Committee, members of Albury-Wodonga's ethnic communities should be encouraged to send representatives to this meeting.

The Albury Wodonga Migration Heritage Workshop was important step toward establishing more consultative, culturally diverse heritage practices that recognise and celebrate the experiences and stories of Albury-Wodonga's ethnic communities. It has provided the basis for more comprehensive research and investigation of migration heritage in the area. This success emerged from the enthusiasm for the task of those who participated in the workshop and this enthusiasm should generate further gains for the proposed Migration Heritage Committee.

Kate Rea