Letter to Minister regarding COVID-19 from AACAI

COVID-19: Safe Working for Cultural Heritage Fieldwork Policy

Further to the statement issued by the Australian Archaeological Association on the 29 April 2020 regarding support for Indigenous communities and our Indigenous colleagues during the COVD-19 pandemic, AACAI endorses the sentiments expressed in that statement.

Furthermore, AACAI:

  • Recognises that there are different levels of COVID-19 restrictions across the country which impact upon cultural heritage fieldwork, and that the situation across the country is constantly changing;
  • Urges our members to undertake cultural heritage fieldwork in a way that is safe for all of us – the archaeologists, the Indigenous stakeholders and other people with whom we work.  We and our families are all vulnerable.  We all have a duty to ensure that our working methods protect those around us.
  • Encourages the development of safe working practices and adherence to these.  Such working practices should include maintenance of safe working distances, providing hand-washing and sanitising materials, not sharing vehicles, equipment or hand tools, use of PPE and the regular cleaning of equipment.

It is AACAI’s policy that Indigenous stakeholders must be included in all aspects of cultural heritage, including fieldwork.  We advocate that members should consult with Indigenous stakeholders on safe working methods that are appropriate for them, to allow this participation. Where Covid-19 restrictions prevent the participation of Indigenous stakeholders in fieldwork, such fieldwork should be postponed unless permission to conduct fieldwork without the presence of the Indigenous stakeholders is provided by that community. We remind members to abide by our Code of Ethics and the AACAI Policy on Consulting with Aboriginal Communities:

https://www.aacai.com.au/about-aacai/code-of-ethics/

https://www.aacai.com.au/about-aacai/policies/

National Executive Committee.  21 May 2020