About the Australian Heritage Council

The Australian Heritage Council is a body of heritage experts established by the Australian Heritage Council Act 2003. The Council replaced the Australian Heritage Commission as the Australian Government's independent expert advisory body on heritage matters when the new Commonwealth heritage system was introduced in 2004 under amendments to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Council members

The Chairman, six other members and up to two associate members are all appointed by the Minister. The Chairman must have substantial experience or expertise concerning heritage while two members must be similarly qualified in natural heritage, two in historic heritage and two must be Indigenous persons with substantial experience or expertise in Indigenous heritage, at least one of who must represent the interests of Indigenous people. An associate member must have expertise in any one of these areas.

Current members

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Professor Carmen Lawrence (Chair)

Professor Carmen Lawrence

Professor Lawrence is the Director of the Centre for the Study of Social Change in the School of Psychology at the University of Western Australia. After training as a research psychologist at the University of Western Australia and lecturing in a number of Australian universities, Professor Lawrence entered politics in 1986, serving at both State and Federal levels for 21 years. She was at various times W.A Minister for Education and Aboriginal affairs and was the first woman Premier and Treasurer of a State government. She shifted to Federal politics in 1994 when she was elected as the Member for Fremantle and was appointed Minister for Health and Human Services and Minister assisting the Prime Minister on the Status of Women. Professor Lawrence held various portfolios in Opposition, including Indigenous Affairs, Arts and Heritage, Environment, Industry and Innovation and was the first popularly elected national President of the Labor Party in 2004. She retired from politics in 2007.

Dr Jacqueline Huggins (Indigenous heritage expert)

Jacqueline Huggins

Dr Huggins AM, FAHA, BA Qld, BA Hons, DipEd Flinders, honorary Doctor of the University of Queensland, is of the Bidjara (Central Queensland) and Birri-Gubba Juru (North Queensland) peoples. Dr Huggins holds many leadership positions in organisations across the country. She is the Deputy Director of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Unit at the University of Queensland; a Director of the Telstra Foundation; Adjunct Professor in the School of Social Work and Applied Human Sciences, University of Queensland; Member of the Indigenous Advisory Board of the Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research, Central Queensland University; former Co-Chair of Reconciliation Australia; former Chair of the Queensland Domestic Violence Council (2001); former Commissioner for Queensland for the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families (1997); and former member of the ATSIC Review Panel (2003).

Dr Huggins has authored Auntie Rita (with Rita Huggins 1994) and Sistergirl (1999). In 2000 she received the Premier's Millenium Award for Excellence in Indigenous Affairs; in 2001 she was awarded a Centenary Medal for her work with Indigenous people, particularly reconciliation, literacy, women's issues and social justice; and was Co-Chair 2020 Summit Indigenous Stream (2008) and Queensland Public Service Commissioner (2008).

Dr Jak Ah Kit (Indigenous heritage expert)

Dr Jak Ah Kit

Dr John (Jak) Ah Kit was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Charles Darwin University, Darwin in 2009 for his contribution to Indigenous people, commitment to reconciliation and cross-cultural understanding. At this university he was the Chair of the Vice-Chancellor’s Indigenous Advisory Committee. In 2007 he received a life-time achievement award at the National NAIDOC Awards. He has chaired the Nitmiluk Tourism Board of Management and served on the reference group to the Anderson-Wild Inquiry into child abuse in Aboriginal communities. Dr Ah Kit was the Northern Territory's first Aboriginal Government Minister. He held the seat of Arnhem from 1995 to 2005 and, among other portfolios, was the Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Indigenous Affairs. He retired from politics in 2005. In 1991, as Director of the Katherine-based Jawoyn Association, he was part of the negotiating team that reached one of Australia’s first Native Title agreements over mining at Mt Todd and helped establish sustainable enterprises at Nitmiluk National Park. In the late 1980s he worked with elders to protect Coronation Hill in Kakadu from further exploration or mining.

Ms Helen Larder (Historic heritage expert)

Helen Lardner

Ms Helen Lardner is the director of the award-winning HLCD Pty Ltd, an innovative heritage consultancy in Victoria. A registered architect since 1996, Ms Lardner undertook a research Master of Architecture in Conservation (University of Melbourne 2000) and also studied Technology of Stone Conservation at the ICCROM course (Venice 1993). In 1993 Ms Lardner was the recipient of a UNESCO International Specialised Skills Fellowship for Overseas Study.

Ms Lardner's practice specialises in complex heritage places requiring a multidisciplinary team approach, such as industrial sites, institutions and major infrastructure. She has wide experience in coordinating the input of a range of specialists on such projects and facilitating the transition of development projects from initial assessment through to implementation. As a strong advocate for good heritage solutions, she is often required to give strategic input on large-scale developments.

Ms Lardner is currently an architect member of the Heritage Council of Victoria. She was formerly Vice President of Australia ICOMOS, is the Australian Institute of Architects' (AIA) Australian coordinator of the International Committee for the Conservation of Industrial Heritage and has chaired the AIA Awards (Victoria) Heritage Jury. Ms Lardner is an experienced heritage advisor to local government and has authored a number of heritage planning guidelines. She has lectured at Deakin University (Melbourne), where she is an ongoing member of the Deakin University Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies Academic Advisory Board, and also lectured at Silpakorn University (Thailand). She was employed as an architect by Heritage Victoria from 1990 to 1994 and has also served on a number of state government tribunals and panels.

Ms Kate Clark (Historic heritage expert)

Ms Kate Clark

Kate Clark has a senior policy role in the NSW Government. She was the Director of the Historic Houses Trust NSW (Sydney Living Museums) from 2008-2013. During this period this organisation had open twelve museums and sites to the public, as well as offering creative public programs, operating a venue hire business and caring for some of Australia’s most important historic buildings, sites and collections. Trained as an archaeologist, Ms Clark has considerable experience in heritage management, heritage economics, heritage policy and research across a broad spectrum of heritage activity. She has also managed her own international heritage consultancy. Ms Clark has over 20 years in heritage in the UK at a senior management level at the UK Heritage Lottery Fund, in policy and research, and English Heritage, in historic environment management. Ms Clark has published widely on a variety of heritage-related topics. She is also on the Grants Advisory Panel for the NSW Heritage Office.

Professor Peter Valentine (Natural heritage expert)

Professor Peter Valentine

Professor Valentine recently retired as Associate Professor in Environmental Science at James Cook University. He was previously Head of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and has extensive experience of Australia's natural environment and heritage, conservation and natural resource management. He continues to serve as an Adjunct Associate Professor at James Cook University as well as in other roles in the conservation sector.

Professor Valentine's research interests include: protected area management (including National Parks, Marine Protected Areas, World Heritage Areas, non-government biodiversity protection, Indigenous co-management) and related nature conservation issues, with particular interest in the integration of social science in natural resource management. He has worked extensively on World Heritage matters and provided advice to several governments and conservation organisations in many countries. Professor Valentine is a member of International Union for Conservation of Nature's World Commission on Protected Areas and continues to provide advice to the Australian Government on matters to do with World Heritage. He was previously a Director and Chair of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and currently advises the Queensland Government and others on matters of international conservation significance.

Professor Valentine's published research includes environmental processes such as the effects of fire, interactions between tourism and wildlife, sustainability science, biogeography, ecology and conservation. His particular natural heritage passion includes landscapes, birds and butterflies.

Dr Jennie Whinam (Natural heritage expert)

Dr Jennie Whinam

Dr Jennifer (Jennie) Whinam is Senior Ecologist (World Heritage Areas) with the Department of Primary Industries, Parks Water & Environment, Tasmania. She has authored and co-authored numerous publications related to botany, ecology and conservation management and is a recognised expert in her field. She is the Senior Botanist on the Macquarie Island Research Advisory Group and is actively involved in Sub Antarctic research. She represents the Resource, Management & Conservation Division (RMC) at National, interstate and overseas government land management meetings. She has worked in international and national research posts, including past Chair of the International Mire Conservation Group and Visiting Researcher with the French Polar Institute. She is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Australian National University.

Council media releases

Roles of the Australian Heritage Council

The Council plays a key role in assessment, advice and policy formulation and support of major heritage programs. Its main responsibilities are to:

  • assess places for the National Heritage List and the Commonwealth Heritage List
  • nominate places for inclusion in the National Heritage List or Commonwealth Heritage List
  • promote the identification, assessment, conservation and monitoring of heritage
  • advise the Minister on various heritage matters including the preparation and amendment of heritage strategies and management plans for Commonwealth areas and agencies.