Messages from National Trust Education Conference

At the National Trust's Education Conference on 20 June 2016, the Hon. Greg Hunt Minister for the Environment and the Hon Mark Butler Shadow Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water both delivered opening remarks which can be read below in full.

Message from the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment

I am pleased to be able to provide this message to you today for the National Trusts Education Heritage Conference at the National Museum in Canberra.

Firstly, I apologise for not being there in person to deliver my message, but with the current heavy schedule of commitments, I was not able to rearrange my commitments to be able to attend. However, I do appreciate the importance of the conference and it is for this reason that I wanted to at least communicate my thoughts to you all.

I have always appreciated and respected the great presence and work by the National Trusts throughout Australia and I do recognise that education has been a core element which has underpinned one of its most fundamental roles.

In conserving and interpreting our nation’s heritage, it is essential to provide leadership in the recognition of the significance, value and richness of Australia’s heritage (natural, Aboriginal and historic), at all levels and across all age ranges. The National Trusts continue to do this with distinction and it is also clearly reflected through the quality of its education programmes.

Our Government has been pleased to have supported this important role in education for the National Trusts through the provision of funds from the National Trusts Partnership Program (NTPP). As a result of these funds, the National Trusts in Australia have had an opportunity to build on an education commitment which, over the past six years, has enabled the development, resourcing and implementation of education programs primarily linked to the Australian Curriculum, to be delivered at National Trust places, schools and other Australian heritage places/events of significance.

With the generic theme of “valuing heritage”, schools education programs have been implemented via the Australian Curriculum, initially through history, but also through other cross-curricula learning areas. These education programs have reinforced the recognition of natural, Aboriginal and historic values as core elements of our heritage.

While the schools education programs have been important, the National Trusts have added value by expanding their education programs to include public programs and online interactive programs to cover all age ranges, from the very young to the very senior.

I understand that there are currently over 40 primary programs, 10 secondary programs and 30 public programs. In 2015 over 70,000 participants were involved in National Trusts education programs across Australia.

As leaders in this field, the National Trusts have created a unified, national platform of leading edge heritage education programs which should inspire the next generation to continue to recognise the value of our heritage.

If I am fortunate enough to serve a second term as Environment Minister, my primary goal for heritage will be to see that the targets and actions outlined in the Australian Heritage Strategy – released in December last year – are fully implemented.

This includes progressing a National Lottery for Heritage to create an additional income stream for local, regional and national heritage projects across Australia.

I understand the value of our extraordinary heritage and its importance to local economies in terms of jobs and tourism. I want to ensure that future generations have the opportunity to visit, enjoy and learn from our remarkable heritage places.

I take this opportunity to congratulate the National Trusts of Australia for their leadership in heritage education in Australia. I also extend my appreciation to the conference convenor, Mr Enzo Sirna AM, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, National Trust of Western Australia, for putting together such a quality and challenging program, with a rich tapestry of content and presentations.

I hope that the outcomes of the conference will continue to inspire excellence at all levels and truly reflect the value of heritage through education.

Hon Mark Butler MP | Federal Member for Port Adelaide | Shadow Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water

Labor recognises that protecting our heritage areas, buildings and sites is good for tourism and good for building strong, connected communities. A Shorten Labor Government will improve public education and participation in matters of heritage, because we recognise their significance to Australia. This will be done in part by reinvigorating Australian Heritage Week – a week established by Labor as an annual celebration of Australia’s unique heritage.

The Australian Heritage Strategy released in December proposed the possibility of a heritage lottery which has a lot of people in the sector excited. Labor is supportive of a national lottery system and would ask the Department of the Environment to investigate if such a lottery would work in Australia.

Labor will investigate incentives or policy tools to encourage conservation of heritage places in private ownership. This would likely involve partnering with local councils.

Options to support training in the traditional skills in the heritage industry will also be explored by Labor.

As announced last week, if elected, a Shorten Labor Government will seek World Heritage listing for the Cape York Peninsula and the West Kimberley region, and will also seek to expand the listing of the Daintree Rainforest to include cultural values.

By identifying, protecting and managing our built, cultural and natural heritage, we conserve a valuable asset and ensure these places are experienced and enjoyed by future generations.

I thank you for all of your work in this area and wish you the very best for your conference.