June 2024 – Historic Heritage Summit, Launceston

HISTORIC HERITAGE SUMMIT, LAUNCESTON,

The second Heritage Summit, hosted by the Minister for the Arts, Madeleine Ogilvie and Tasmanian Heritage Council Chair, Brett Torosi, was held in Launceston on 17 May. More than 120 people attended.  

In opening the event, the Minister spoke about our collective responsibility to activate the stories of our heritage buildings and places because they play a vital role in shaping our sense of place and belonging.  The Minister’s media statement can be viewed at:

https://www.premier.tas.gov.au/site_resources_2015/additional_releases/enhancing-tasmanias-heritage

Heritage Council Chair, Ms Brett Torossi highlighted recent government research which demonstrates that built heritage contributes nearly $1 billion annually to Tasmania’s economy (Gross State Product).  Nearly half a million visitors come to Tasmania attracted by our heritage assets and more than 5,000 jobs are supported by the existence of the sector.  Our built heritage is much more than timber, sandstone, bricks and mortar – it underpins a vital component of our economy, it is a major drawcard for visitors, it supports the retention of valuable building and conservation skills in the state and adds significant value to land and property values, and our brand.

You can read Ms Torossi’s Summit media statement at: Home | Heritage Tasmania

Tasmanian cultural heritage and interpretation expert, Dr Jody Steele (pictured above), delivered a keynote address emphasising the importance of storytelling, focusing on her personal experience and the human narratives behind the historical buildings and places. Read on for a precis of Dr Steele’s address:

“Unlocking our heritage – a storytelling approach”

Do you remember the first time you wished “if only these walls could talk”? Is there a place in the world, or at home where you remember a feeling, a sense of awe and wonder washing over you? Is there an item in your house that connects you with your ancestry? Or a family tradition that has been passed down through generations?

For many cultures, heritage is intrinsically intertwined with wellbeing. There is a shared recognition that contextualising ourselves helps us understand who we are as individuals, and communities. In recent years, the therapeutical benefits of understanding our past have have been studied, identifying opportunities for healing, connectedness, a greater sense of self, and suggesting that the value of heritage extends much further than the traditional criteria for significance.

Growing up, the past was presented to us via stories – they took different forms of course – mythology, fables, we read histories, and were taught of world events, we were reminded that things we different “back in my day”. Each and every one of those “stories” that resonated with us as individuals or collectively, helped us understand our place in the world, helped us construct our own identity and sense of community, and became part of our heritage.

It is the unique stories and experiences of everyday life that create connections for people to spaces, landscapes, buildings and objects. Whether it be story linked to a vast landscape or an old Georgian building in the middle of town, a tale of community resilience, mateship and kindness in the face of adversity and disaster, or memories of favourite apple flavours or potato dishes, our intangible heritage brings character and distinctiveness to our state. Each story helps to build a sense of what it is to be Tasmanian, and an understanding of our place on this beautiful island of lutruwita / Tasmania.  With each story shared, the mission to safeguard our precious heritage becomes easier, and the bridge between the past and the present becomes so much shorter.

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