The University of Western Australia and the philanthropic body Kimberley Foundation Australia have joined forces to protect the unique and spectacular rock-art of the Kimberley region.
UWA and the Foundation today formalised a memorandum of understanding which aims to generate a better appreciation of the Indigenous cultural heritage in the Kimberley.
The partnership was launched by the Premier, Colin Barnett, who also announced that the State Government would provide $300,000 over three years to The University of Western Australia for rock-art research in the Kimberley. The research would involve traditional owners and aimed to improve the protection, management and maintenance of Kimberley's rock-art.
The MOU commits the partners to initiate and support long-term research programs, collaborate with Indigenous groups, seek support from the corporate and Government sectors and advocate for the heritage value of rock-art.
UWA and the Foundation will undertake research in dating and chemical characterisation of rock-art; documenting and interpreting the variations in rock-art; archaeological excavations and associated chronology; studies of palaeoclimatology, palaeoecology, palaeofauna, and palaeolinguistics; and ethnology.
With Western Australia recognised internationally as home to some of the most spectacular rock-art in the world, UWA's Centre for Rock-Art Studies ensures WA is recognised as a global leader in rock-art research and provides a focal point for advice and research-related activities into WA and Australian rock-art, including tourism and conservation.
Activities include collaborative projects with Indigenous organisations to learn more about the antiquity and meaning of rock-art; training rangers in rock-art recording; recovering and preserving damaged or threatened images; and educating the wider community.
UWA Vice-Chancellor Professsor Alan Robson said the MOU was a significant step forward in advancing the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge about the Kimberley. "Collaboration such as this bring together many strands of inquiry that can further our understanding of the role of rock-art in the development of indigenous and non-indigenous cultural histories."
Acting Director of the UWA Centre for Rock-Art Studies, Professor Jane Balme, said few landscapes offered as much tangible evidence of human history as the Pilbara and Kimberley regions.
"Researchers and the wider community have an extraordinary opportunity to learn more about the rich human histories associated with rock-art," Professor Balme said.