Found a Fossil: assessing Australian perceptions of heritage discoveries and conservation
Discoveries of natural and cultural heritage, such as fossils or Indigenous artefacts/sites, are often found not by scientists, but by ordinary citizens who are unfamiliar with heritage laws However, the perceptions of these non specialist members of the community including how th ese perceptions may affect heritage conservation, have been poorly studied. To address this problem, the Found a Fossil project was created, with the release of an Australia wide survey that aimed to understand how Australians pe rceive heritage material what they may do upon its discovery, and their awareness of current heritage protections. Results show that while there is enthusiasm to report finds, confusion over the appropriate authorities to contact, a lack of transparency by government, and poorly communicated legislation a re creating barriers to heritage protection in Australia. While survey responses helped to identify concerns and problems with current heritage protections, they also illustrated potential solutions that cater to the wants and needs of local communities. This project represents the first analysis to comprehensively cover Australian perceptions of both Indigenous artefacts and fossils, and provides recommendations for future initiatives that can contribute to the improved protection and celebration of Australian heritage, and the incredible stories it can tell.