26 September 2023

Road workers get to dig culture lessons

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More than 500 workers on the Cape York Peninsula Developmental Road upgrade project have completed cultural heritage awareness training.

Director-General of Transport and Main Roads, Neil Scales said the training was an example of how the project was being delivered alongside local Indigenous people.

Mr Scales said a major part of the jointly-funded Cape York Regional Package (CYRP) Stage One and Two involved working in partnership with Traditional Owners.

“This includes opportunities for participation at every stage and ensuring all workers have an appreciation of the rich history and cultural value of these areas,” Mr Scales said.

“Cultural heritage training is one of the ways we can ensure works are undertaken in a sensitive manner, with great respect for local Indigenous communities.

He said if someone found an artefact or site of significance, they would be able to easily recognise them and put immediate protections in place.

“Having more than 500 workers complete this training demonstrates everyone, regardless of their role, has a duty of care to recognise, protect and conserve the Aboriginal cultural heritage of Cape York,” Mr Scales said.

Archaeologist, Darryl Murgha (pictured centre) is at the forefront of this approach to cultural heritage — one of the 321 Indigenous workers who have taken part in the upgrade of Cape York Peninsula’s major transport route since work started in 2014.

“I’ve been involved in the CYRP since it started and I want to continue until it is finished,” Mr Murgha said.

“I feel very fortunate to be working hand-in-hand with Traditional Owners to share the unique history of this fascinating region. I call it collaborative learning — we all learn from each other up here.”

He said the workers learned the history of the area and importance of preserving it from local Aboriginal people, while local people were learning many skills from the opportunities the road upgrade was providing.

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