Huskisson Former Anglican Church Site and Federal Govt’s Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act.

NOTE: Church Site refers to whole block bounded by Hawke, Bowen, Currambene Streets and an unnamed laneway. The south-west corner of the block containing many unmarked graves is formally owned by the Jerrinja LALC.

November 2022:

The owner of the former Anglican land was preparing to use an Excavation Permit which the Heritage Council (NSW) had issued to him. Shoalhaven Council had surrendered the Excavation Permit issued them in response to the statements by many in the Indigenous community’ of their spiritual abhorrence of the plans to disturb the graves. Survey pegs were in place, the developer’s chosen archaeologist had been observed at the site making final preparations to use the permit.

In the nick of time, on the 15th November the Federal Government issued a 30 day protection order. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection (Huskisson Churchyard) Emergency Declaration 2022. This was in response to an urgent and detailed application from the Jerrinja LALC.

January 2023:

The tireless efforts of the Jerrinja LALC to get the site protected by the Federal Government led to an informed expectation that a more permanent Section 10 Protection Order would be issued in mid-January. SCC staff received notification that Tanya Plibersek’s staff were about to recommend the more permanent Section 10 protection be applied.

The developer surrendered his DA to relocate the church and his Excavation Permit just before Jan 19. The owners were desperate to establish there is no immediate danger to the site to avoid the Section 10 protection of a significant Aboriginal area.

UPDATE 13th March 2024:
In the Shoalhaven Council staff report to Council staff advised that the they understood that the application from Jerrinja LALC to have the site permanently protected under the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act remains unresolved.

The result of this is that to date there are NO permissions granted the owner by the Shoalhaven Council or the NSW State Government to do anything on the site. We understand the Section 10 protection is still being considered by the Commonwealth Government.