Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection (Huskisson Churchyard) Emergency Declaration 2022

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection (Huskisson Churchyard) Emergency Declaration 2022

TANYA PLIBERSEK, Minister for the Environment and Water, emergency declaration.
The owner was preparing the site to use his Excavation Permit and just in the nick of time the Federal Government issued a 30 day protection order.

I am writing in relation to the application of 14 September 2022 for an emergency declaration under section 9 of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 (Cth) (ATSIHP Act), seeking protection of the former Anglican Holy Trinity Church
grounds, in Huskisson, New South Wales (the specified area).

I have carefully considered the application and evidence provided under section 9. I am satisfied that the specified area satisfies the Act’s requirements of being both a ‘significant Aboriginal area’ and ‘under serious and immediate threat of injury or desecration’, as these terms are used under the Act.

I have therefore made an emergency declaration under section 9 of the Act in relation to the specified area. The declaration comes into effect from 5pm AEDT 15 November 2022 until 5pm AEDT 15 December 2022, I may decide the extend the period of this declaration by an additional 30 days.

During the period of effect, a person must not carry out any works within the specified area, including: archaeological investigations including ground scraping; clearing of trees in the area; removal of any objects or structures in the area; or excavation or construction work in the area. Failure to comply with this declaration is an offence that can result in penalties under the ATSIHP Act including imprisonment or fines.

Minister for the Enviroment and Water, The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP 15th November 2022

Nov. 9, 2022: from SCC Agenda for Meeting November 14.


We have added the yellow boxes to a slide Bartlett presented to Council on September 20. The slide indicates where he wants, or has permission to excavate. We think it likely that the areas boxed in yellow are within one metre of the boundary.

The Excavation Permit has been made public.

The Shoalhaven City Council voted in April 2022 not to allow an Excavation Permit to be used on the Church Site. The owner of the Church and Burial Site has now obtained another permit to allow excavation. The permit was issued by the Heritage Council of NSW, dated 31/8/22.

I’ve been hanging around this place now for quite some time. And I still don’t understand the mechanism that allows a state government department to issue that permit without any any call into Shoalhaven City Council. They have no real process that says that they must do consultation that’s meaningful. And you know, what; they don’t do that meaningful consultation. There’s just so many questions. They’re not ours to answer. But I think that somebody needs to be held to account and I think that the only way that we can hold that to account is by starting on this heritage journey.

Mayor Amanda Findley speaking to her Mayoral Minute September 20, 2022

Jerrinja Local Aboriginal Land Council Statement

Made on @JerrinjaCountry  FaceBook page 27/9/22

Huskisson Burial Ground Update

Mixed coverage of this issue in the South Coast Register today.

We had hoped that why the Hunter Geophysics GPR returned a much higher result would be looked at more critically.

Maybe it’s because this is one of the nation’s leading grave detection experts not a dial before you dig exercise. Maybe it’s because the study area was, for the first time, the entire site.

The holes in the logic appear when the developer himself states the 7 burials identified in the original GPRs won’t be desecrated.

So GPR is a valid methodology, providing its results aren’t too inconvenient?

Regardless of whether we are talking 7 graves or 70 our position is unchanged: this whole debacle is distressing and offensive, and we will do everything in our power to fight this plan and ensure the resting place of our ancestors and those buried across the site is respected.

To achieve this we have lodged another Federal protection application to try and stop the burial ground desecration. We are grateful to have the support of the majority of Shoalhaven City Councillors, who voted last Tuesday night to support our application and who are also attempting to have the site heritage listed.

As quoted in the article, we say again, it is disrespectful that Heritage NSW granted a permit to scrape the burials, given the extreme cultural sensitivity. What they call verification we call desecration. Just like last time Heritage NSW didn’t have the decency to consult us prior to issuing a permit.

We of course appreciate that community sentiment about the site is strong, and that especially if it looks as though work may start, that the JLALC block is likely to become the focus point of community action and resistance. It is critical that any such activity is done with the prior consent of our Board and Elders, and most importantly has no impact on any potential burials on site.

Our ranger team will be on site over the coming days to cordon off sensitive areas and we ask the Aboriginal and broader community to please respect this before entering the site.