The recognition of custodial exercise and the significance given by the Aboriginal community to a site in the solution of issues of land tenure, have increased the importance of the participation of Aboriginal people in cultural heritage management (Ellis, 1994).
Regulations such as the Environmental Protection Act, The Integrated Planning Act, the Cultural Heritage Landscapes Act, and the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act recognize the importance of Indigenous heritage management. As well, some inclusive models used when development projects involve cultural heritage analysis, for example the Dawson River dam, have avoided expensive confrontation and conflict (Godwin 1997 p.6), but also highlight the need to explore options and to better define the issues of inclusive approaches.
Most of the literature (Ellis, 1994, Young, 2001, O'Faircheallaigh, 1998, Walsh, 2002) agrees that participation by Aboriginal people in the things that concern planning and management of cultural heritage is essential, but there exists limited information about how this goal can be achieved. This is something that can only be defined by the government and the Aboriginal community who wish to exercise this right.
At the end of July 2003 I became involved as research facilitator in the development of a handbook to define a protocol of understanding that incorporates Indigenous cultural heritage values of the Jagera People into local government planning with the Brisbane City Council. The handbook looks to facilitate the incorporation of Indigenous aspirations related to cultural heritage in the planning of the city, so that their values are respected and they can continue their traditions and practices. This handbook will define a protocol of understanding among the Jagera and the Brisbane City Council in relation to the management and assessment of cultural heritage.
The creation of the protocol of understanding will answer the question of how the Brisbane City Council and the Jagera can work together in the planning and management of sites of cultural heritage significance. This thesis explores the question of how we can make that sort of protocol and it also aims to define a process of research that achieves that goal.
Due to the characteristics of the research, the process for the development of the handbook on cultural heritage is, as well, a negotiation process between the government and Aboriginal people. The difficulties in developing these sort of agreements have been highlighted before. Ivanitz (1997) explains that negotiation does not stop with the final agreement and that it continues through all its application and interpretation. The difficulties are not only derived from the difference of power among the subjects (Ivanitz, 1997), but also from trying to put together two different ways of understanding the world (Wensing 1999).