Rhys Jones Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Australian Archaeology 2005

Sharon Sullivan


In 2005, the Rhys Jones Medal was awarded to Professor Sharon Sullivan AO in recognition of her sustained and significant contribution to archaeology in a career spanning three decades. Sharon has an enviable track record in the discipline, recognised in the awarding of an AO in the Australia Day Honours List in 2004 and a life membership of ICOMOS worldwide, a rare honour for an Australian. She has published five books and nearly 50 papers. She is a fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and on the National Executive Committee of Australia ICOMOS. Sharon has worked in heritage place management and land management generally for 30 years with considerable involvement in the development of cultural heritage systems in Australia. Importantly she has worked with the World Heritage Bureau and the World Heritage Committee reviewing nominations and operation of the committee as well as being the Australian Government’s main adviser and international representative on the World Heritage Committee.

Sharon has had considerable influence in the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) where she worked in various capacities including Head, Cultural Heritage Management and Regional Director, NPWS Central Region. Sharon was one of the first cultural heritage managers employed by NPWS and consequently has had considerable influence on the formulation and development of legislation and policies on cultural heritage management in NSW. Since leaving NPWS, Sharon has been Executive Director, Australian Heritage Commission, and Director of her own heritage consultancy firm which has led her to many parts of the globe to assist in the improvement of heritage management policies.

Sharon has played a very important role as advocate for the rights of Indigenous people and in mentoring people to have an active role in the management of their own heritage. Sharon has also been instrumental in working with Indigenous communities to achieve workable conservation plans for sites of cultural significance. As pointed out in her nomination, Sharon has been a pioneer in establishing protocols and programs in heritage management that we all take for granted today.

She has been a great role model and mentor for many people in the archaeological community and is held in great esteem by her colleagues both in Australia and overseas, enhancing the reputation of Australia in progressive and responsible approaches to cultural heritage. It is with great pleasure that the Australian Archaeological Association acknowledges her great contribution and commitment to the discipline over the course of her professional career.