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Centre for Heritage and Culture

The Centre for Heritage and Culture works in partnership with communities to uncover, record and analyse stories that characterise landscapes and experiences of regional Australia.  

Our research re-interprets these stories through unique multi-modal forms of storytelling, including creative expression, digital platforms and scholarly publications. Renewed storytelling brings the past into the present to strengthen identities and foster social inclusion and wellbeing in regional communities.

Our program of research mentoring builds capacity of regional researchers to address complex social and cultural issues of global significance.

Themes and Projects

Key projects

Under the theme of Storied Landscapes, our research uncovers, interprets and translates the past to create stories that can be shared with contemporary and future communities 

Title: Agayrr Bamangay Milbi – Cape York rock art project 
Project Team: Professor Bryce Barker | Researchers from Griffith, University of Notre Dame, Flinders University, the University of Tasmania and University of Adelaide 
Project Partners: Buubu Gujin Aboriginal Corporation | Laura Rangers | Balngarrawarra Aboriginal Corporation | South Cape York Catchments | Cape Melville, Flinders and Howick Islands Aboriginal Corporation | Waarnthuurr-iin Aboriginal Corporation | Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service 
Funding Body: Australian Research Council 

Researchers from six universities, working in partnership with five First Nations communities, are recording the cultural heritage the Laura Sandstone Basin of Cape York Peninsula, one of the richest bodies of rock art in the world. The research provides a framework for sustainable management to conserve this unique Country for future generations. 

Title: Cultural Water Modelling 

Leader: Professor Celmara Pocock 
Project Team: Dr Malcolm Connolly (CSIRO) | Professor Simon Young | Associate Professor Zahra Gharineiat | Professor Raj Gururajan 
Project Partners: CSIRO  
Funding Body: CSIRO 

Cultural water plays a vital role in ensuring water security within the Murray Darling Basin. In collaboration with the CSIRO and First Nations communities, this pilot project utilises spatial technologies to effectively model, test, and map important cultural assets of First Nations near river channels and swamps. The project aims to compile spatial datasets, model cultural assets, and develop innovative tools to generate valuable data. This data will serve to document significant cultural water assets and assist First Nations people in the preservation and maintenance of riverine systems.

Key projects

Creating connected communities is vital to the sustainability of thriving regional communities. Our research supports the recognition and inclusion of diverse peoples, cultures, histories, and heritage to promote a more inclusive society. Our research includes work with First Nations peoples, youth, the elderly, LGBTQ communities, migrants and others who live and work in our region. 

Title: Queensland’s Regional Youth  
Leader: Professor Andrew Hickey 
Project Team: Professor Stewart Riddle | Professor Celmara Pocock 
Funding Body: Department of Environment And Science 
Youth Community Futures is a research and engagement collaboration that seeks to understand the experiences of young people in regional Australia, specifically in relation to access to educational, employment and social opportunities. Program outcomes will inform Government policy and contribute to the sociology of young people. 

Key projects

Drawing from the Indigenous research framework of Social and Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB), we recognise that wellbeing is wholistic and interdependent on strong communities, and healthy, environments, societies, and cultures. Our research demonstrates the importance of creative arts, communication and heritage for community wellbeing.  

Title: Mapping approaches to community engagement for natural hazard preparedness in Australia 
Leader: Dr Barbara Ryan 
Project Team: Professor Kim Johnston (QUT) | Professor Maureen Taylor (UTS) 
Project Partners: Inspector General of Emergency Management Queensland | NSW State Emergency Service | Department of Fire and Emergency Services WA | Cairns Regional Council | Ipswich City Council | Queensland Fire and Emergency Services | Tablelands Regional Council  
Funding Body: Bushfire and Natural Hazards Co-operative Research Centre, now Natural Hazards Research Australia  

This project mapped community engagement approaches of emergency agencies and local councils across Australia, to develop a framework to guide and support community engagement activities for emergency preparation. The framework informed the Community Engagement for Disaster Resilience Handbook, produced by the Australian Institute of Disaster Resilience, and adopted by Queensland SES volunteers.