The Bruce Veitch Award
The Bruce Veitch Award for Excellence in Indigenous Engagement
During the 2005 Australian Archaeological Association Annual Conference held in Fremantle, Bruce’s home town, President Judith Field announced the establishment of ‘The Bruce Veitch Award for Excellence in Indigenous Engagement’ in honour of the important contribution of Bruce Veitch to the archaeological discipline. Bruce passed away in Perth on 10 March 2005 after a short battle with motor neurone disease. Bruce is survived by his wife archaeologist Fiona Hook and son Conall.
Bruce was a co-director of the cultural heritage company Archae-Aus Pty Ltd with Fiona. He made a major impact on the practice and ethics of archaeological work in Australia. From the pioneering research fieldwork on the Mitchell Plateau for his PhD to his collaborative cultural heritage work in the Pilbara and elsewhere, he was known for his energy, persistence and honesty.
He mobilised consultancy work, collaborated closely with the traditional owners on whose sites he was working, and worked strategically with major industry players. Bruce’s commitment extended to mentoring graduates and he was endlessly supportive and generous with his time, skills and knowledge. Bruce was engaged in an extraordinarily broad range of archaeological endeavours across Australia, all of which were carried out with custodial and traditional owner support and participation.
This Award has been created in recognition of Bruce’s contribution to the discipline. It will be awarded annually to any individual or group who has undertaken an archaeological or cultural heritage project which has produced a significant outcome for Indigenous interests. The applicant will have actively engaged with the Indigenous community in producing a successful outcome. Major funding to establish the award was provided by BHP Billiton Iron Ore, Pilbara Iron and Alcoa. Donations to maintain the fund are welcome. Applicants will have actively engaged with Indigenous communities to produce a successful outcome. The nature of nominations is flexible (e.g. video tape, audio tape, poster etc), considering the wide range of Indigenous collaborations and the remoteness of some communities.
The Bruce Veitch Award for Excellence in Indigenous Engagement 2012
Ian’s approach to archaeology is grounded in an understanding of the colonial legacy in Australia, and of the role of archaeology as a tool in both perpetuating and redressing some of the historical imbalances of the past. His monograph Appropriated Pasts: Indigenous Peoples and the Colonial Culture of Archaeology, co-authored with Lynette Russell (2005), has been particularly influential in contributing to global discussions on representations of Indigenous peoples, the authority of science, and the rights of Indigenous communities to control and manage how their history is written.
Ian has been particularly vocal in developing and practicing ‘partnership archaeology’. His research is undertaken in close collaboration with the communities in which he works, and is based around long-standing professional and personal relationships that extend over decades. Along with previous awardee Dr Bruno David, Ian jointly established the ARC-funded ‘Western Torres Strait Cultural Heritage Project’. This project was set-up explicitly under a partnership project framework with many communities in western Torres Strait. Terrence Whap, Chair of the Goemulgaw Prescribed Bodies Corporate, wrote of Ian’s commitment:I highly commend Ian McNiven for his commitment and dedication to working with Torres Strait Communities especially the Community of Mabuyag and his continuous dialogue with Goemulgal. The publications produced from his work have been helpful in understanding the history and culture of Goemulgau in our modern society.
This is further supported by a statement by Adhi Dimple Bani, of Mabuyag Island, who wrote:On behalf of all the people of Mabuyag, we fully support the nomination of Ian McNiven. We acknowledge the immense work that he’s carried out not only through his studies but by providing some of the ancient answers and vital information to the community of Mabuyag.
The Bruce Veitch Award for Excellence in Indigenous Engagement 2011
Ken has had a long and significant career–a remarkable career–in archaeology. He is well known now for his outstanding work aimed at protecting rock art on the Burrup Peninsula, but throughout his career Ken has worked closely with Indigenous people from many other regions in Australia.
In the early 1980s, he worked for the Aboriginal Sites Department at the Western Australian Museum, with a team of archaeologists responsible for recording and salvaging sites prior to development. He engaged with engineers and planners to ensure wherever possible the protection of important archaeological features in the face of rapid mining expansion, at a time when cultural heritage protection was a marginal consideration in industrial development.
With the Victoria Archaeological Survey, he developed and delivered training courses for Aboriginal field staff, enhancing their knowledge of archaeology and cultural resource management practices. He then worked with the Northern Land Council where he represented Aboriginal interests in land claims and acquisitions. Next came a position with the Northern Territory Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority documenting sites of significance and recording the social, cultural and geographical contexts of sites and people for relevant Aboriginal groups.
In 2003 he moved to work with Pilbara Iron and more broadly within Rio Tinto, where today he is the Specialist Heritage Advisor for the Burrup.
Those who know Ken will tell you how generous he is with his time and knowledge with students and colleagues, but especially with Indigenous people. His honesty, energy and persistence, combined with his long history of professional and meaningful Indigenous engagement make him an outstanding recipient for the Bruce Veitch Award for Excellence in Indigenous Engagement.
The Bruce Veitch Award for Excellence in Indigenous Engagement 2010
In 2010 the Bruce Veitch Award was presented to Dr Peter Veth of the Australian National University. Peter has been involved with the Martu Aboriginal community of the Western Desert since beginning his PhD in 1986.
In recent years, at the instigation of Martu custodians, Peter co-ordinated a successful ARC Linkage Project – The Canning Stock Route Project – which is now in its third year.
One of the most tangible outcomes of the project has been the emergence of an Indigenous Governance Structure for the many Aboriginal groups living along the 1700 kilometres of the Stock Route. This has become a way for Aboriginal groups to respond to research and management issues on an annual basis, and to organise co-ordinated responses to impacts on their country.
At the ANU National Centre for Indigenous Studies, Peter is involved in the supervision and mentoring of Indigenous scholars, and has been pivotal in developing a cohort of indigenous post‐graduates in a range of fields.
The Bruce Veitch Award for Excellence in Indigenous Engagement 2008
Ross is a tireless advocate for the involvement of Aboriginal communities in the management of their cultural heritage. She has pursued this agenda through community-based research projects, lectures, publications, critical analysis of and input into the creation of legislation. For example:
- With the Quandamooka Aboriginal Land Council, Annie documented the Aboriginal cultural heritage of North Stradbroke and Peel Islands over eight years. Community members were involved in every step of the research process by ongoing consultation, visits to excavations, involvement in analysing midden shell in the University of Queensland laboratories, joint publications and conference presentations, and organising Aboriginal community members to participate in and contribute to AAA conferences.
- Brian Tobane of the Gummingurru Trust says ‘Annie has worked with them in re-establishing Gummingurru as a place of learning. Annie has helped the traditional custodians to express and action their desire to engage with the wider community through education’.
- Patricia O’Connor of The Yugambeh Museum Language and Heritage Research Centre said that the student visits organised by Annie enabled the Museum to ‘engage directly with students who have the potential to become the cultural heritage managers of the future and therefore allows us to have an impact on the frameworks under which management paradigms operate within Yugambeh country’.
Annie has made and continues to make an invaluable contribution to Aboriginal cultural heritage practices and outcomes in Australia.
The Bruce Veitch Award for Excellence in Indigenous Engagement 2007
Bruno David has been awarded the Bruce Veitch Award for 2007 in recognition of his commitment to working professionally and innovatively with Indigenous people in an atmosphere of friendship, learning and respect.
Bruno has spent an extraordinary amount of his working life collaborating with local Indigenous communities in Australia, Torres Strait, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific. These projects have been intimately based on the interests of local communities, with Bruno frequently responding to requests for personal visits and further research emerging from previous collaborations. Bruno involves local Indigenous communities in all stages from preliminary visits prior to fieldwork, proper employment of field crews nominated by community leaders, and, importantly, in the analysis, interpretation, writing and presentation of results. Desi Grainer (Kuku Djungan Aboriginal Corporation) writes about the Ngarrabullgan research in Cape York Peninsula, that ‘through the years in which Bruno has worked with our people he has shown respect and leadership in how he went about his business amongst the Djungan people and at the same time helping to support and empower Djungan people to understand, acquire and record knowledge … to protect and conserve country for future generations.’
Bruno’s recent work on a major gas pipeline in Gulf Province, Papua New Guinea, involved many communities and detailed consideration of highly significant and spiritual places, requiring mitigation and archaeological investigation. Douglas Simala (Community Affairs-PNG Gas Esso Highlands Ltd) speaks highly of Bruno’s work among the Rumu people of Kikori: ‘Dr Bruno won the hearts of the clan elders and was given the exclusive right and freedom of movement to enter Rumu tribal land … and is a household name for his input to the cause of preserving the cultural identity of the Rumu people.’
Bruno has always sought funding for community representatives to participate in laboratory analyses of their excavated materials. His logic is that he goes to community lands in good faith; and it is equally appropriate that he invites people back to where he works and lives, so that people can experience and understand that side of the research process. He insists that funding be made available for this if excavations are done during a consultancy.
Bruno’s work consistently endeavours to relate the archaeology of places and objects, of whatever antiquity, to a living social landscape that is demonstrably meaningful to the people with whom he works. His ability to work with a variety of archaeological datasets from stone artefacts, rock art, and burials to ecology, social relations and spiritual worlds challenges conventional interpretations of the past and brings to the forefront Indigenous knowledge and recent local histories. In much of his published work, local Indigenous people feature prominently, often as co-authors, in acknowledgement of the collaborative nature of his research.
Bruce Veitch Award for Excellence in Indigenous Engagement 2006
Richard Fullager has been awarded the inaugural Bruce Veitch award for excellence in Indigenous engagement. This award was created to celebrate Bruce’s important contribution to the practice and ethics of archaeology in Australia. It results from contributions by resource companies, consultants and individuals made after Bruce’s death in 2005. The award is presented to an individual or group who has undertaken an archaeological or cultural heritage project which has produced significant outcomes for Indigenous interests.
Richard Fullagar has a long and distinguished career in archaeology spanning the last 30 years which has been centred on working in collaboration with Aboriginal communities. He has always practiced archaeology with a sense of moral and ethical obligation to the people he has worked with and has actively sought to engage with traditional owners on all the projects he has been involved in. His commitment has always been long-term and often has involved significant outcomes for individuals, communities, and for the ethical standing of archaeology in this country.
Three particular projects highlight Richard’s commitment to Aboriginal communities and the manner in which he practices archaeology. First, he has worked with the Miriuwung-Gajerrong and other top-end people since the late 1980s, providing expert witness testimony in their successful native title case. Second, Richard has been a key part of the University of Sydney Riversleigh Archaeology Project, working closely with the Waanyi people in northwest Queensland. He was active in many months of fieldwork, assisted and ran traineeship programs for young community people, and provided expert advice and reports. As many would know, this project often brought community people to Sydney to be a part of the post fieldwork analysis and to attend conferences like AAA. Third, Richard has provided a key leadership role in his work as chair of the AAA Code of Ethics Review Subcommittee.
When he is in the field, as his colleagues would know, Richard is usually responsible for extensive background consultation work. Yet somehow he also manages to spend a lot of time down the pit. He’s the first one up, cooking porridge for people and usually the last one to bed, and still manages to be enthusiastic about the artefacts coming out of the trench on a boiling hot afternoon. His generosity to others in a range of field-based projects has always been selfless.
Richard is well-known for his generosity of heart, opening his home and family to visitors and returning to country where he has worked as often as he is able. Richard is never apologetic about archaeology – he is able to respect and interact with Indigenous worldviews while being passionate about scientific archaeology. He is able to communicate that passion to Indigenous people, as he is able to understand and share something of their passion for the land.