Event: ICOMOS GA23 Youth Forum

13 September 2023

Architectural Assistant Hugh Jones was sponsored to take part in the ICOMOS GA23 Youth Forum, taking place over the course of three days on Wareamah, also known as Cockatoo Island. This year, the forum focused on knowledge sharing to better equip the next generation of heritage professionals to tackle uncertain futures in safeguarding our built and landscape heritage.

The forum's 'REFRAME' sessions sought to answer the question: "How can young and emerging professionals 'reframe' heritage? And in 'reframing' ideas, values, and conservation practice, how do we lay the groundwork for an uncertain future?".

The sessions provided fresh thinking and aimed to deepen understanding of the multifaceted nature of working as a heritage practitioner.

Sessions such as "Designing with Country" highlighted the significance of integrating Indigenous knowledge systems into heritage practices, emphasizing a unique "cultural dimension" to better understand the modern responsibilities of safeguarding our collective heritage and neutralizing pre-existing bias.

"Adapt or Perish" underscored the urgent need to address the sustainability crisis in the construction industry, with a focus on adaptive re-use projects. This session reinforced the idea that heritage conservation is not just about preserving the past but also about creating a sustainable future for our heritage and responsibly managing change.

"Reframing Digital Heritage" showcased the transformative potential of technology in heritage management, specifically how user-generated content on social media can enhance visitor experiences and serve as a tool for monitoring sites. The innovative methods being employed in data harvesting from online platforms can be used to better support efforts in managing and safeguarding our heritage.

The ICOMOS GA23 Youth Forum was a deeply enriching and motivating professional experience that will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on how I practice as a heritage professional. It has equipped me with the knowledge, perspective, and connections necessary to actively contribute to the future of heritage practice globally. Beyond the knowledge gained, the forum fostered valuable professional connections and a sense of collective purpose among my peers; networking with such a diverse group of like-minded professionals from around the world left me feeling part of a global community dedicated to advancing heritage conservation practices and safeguarding our built, landscape, cultural, and natural heritage.

— Hugh Jones, Architectural Assistant