Jo McDonald is the 2018 recipient of the Bruce Veitch Award. She had previously been awarded the Rhys Jones Medal in 2016
Jo McDonald has worked collaboratively with Aboriginal communities throughout Australia for over 30 years. In the Sydney catchment she was proactive in employing large teams of Aboriginal community members on surveys and excavation. Since 2000 she has worked with custodians of the Western Desert on projects linking rock art, occupational history and Dreaming narratives. More recently Jo has worked the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation, establishing unprecedented levels of collaboration and reporting with Traditional Owners. In August this year she took a lead role in organising a World Heritage Summit in Karratha which saw Federal and State regulators, industry and heritage experts meet with representatives of all five language families to progress Tentative World Heritage Listing for the Dampier Archipelago. This has been one of the most challenging heritage estates to progress to Listing in Australia due to competing industry demands and opaque planning instruments.
Murujuga Traditional Owner, Tootsie Daniels, says of Jo: “She has been coming back here for the heritage of the islands and the people. She works closely with the Traditional Owners and Rangers and brings all this important information back to us. We now want Heritage Listing and the work we have been doing with Jo and her team will get us there. It was hard sometimes but she worked through it and now we are there together”.
Shark Bay man, Sean McNair says: “Working on the islands (Dampier Archipelago) was challenging and we hadn’t always had easy relations with researchers. The UWA team worked hard and built up trust. We are now doing cultural tours and setting up an interpretative trail. Jo has helped make this happen”.