Risk Assessment of Aboriginal Sites and Places

Utilising the Bundjalung Mapping Project Database



Risk Assessment


Risk assessment can be used as a process to determine the ‘value’ of cultural sites and places to the community. Use of this risk assessment method allows the Aboriginal community to publicly assess and compare impacts on cultural heritage values without disclosing culturally confidential information.  The method is compatible with information stored in the Bundjalung Mapping Project database, and when that project is completed, could represent a major use of database information by Aboriginal community members for management of their cultural heritage.


The suggested method applies a scale of numbers to each of three criteria for each cultural site and place.  They are then added to determine a number ‘value’.  The three criteria and their numerical scale are as follows. (Note:  The criteria and scale are not fixed.  They can be changed according to each risk assessment situation.)


1 = low impact, 2 = moderate impact, 3 = high impact


1 = known to be altered or disturbed, 2 = possibly altered or disturbed, 3 = unaltered or undisturbed.


1 = lesser significance maybe common, 2 = generally significant maybe rare or unusual, 3 = highly significant maybe very rare or unique.


For each site or place the three criteria are added, giving a maximum value of 9.  The higher the value, from 0 to 9, the greater the risk to that site or place, from any proposed development or change.  In order to determine the merits of different options or proposals the values of each site or place may be tallied, giving an overall risk value which may then be compared.  The highest overall risk value is therefore the least preferred, as it represents the greatest risk and worst outcome, should the proposal go ahead.




The attached map of the Gold Coast C4 Tugun Bypass proposal has a total of 27 risk values which have been added along the proposed route.  These represent possible sites and places with probable risk values. (Note: This map is representational only and is not intended to accurately represent any actual Aboriginal cultural site or value).  Adding the values from the map gives an overall risk value of 164. (The maximum for the proposal as marked would be, 27 x 9 = 243).  The overall risk value figure therefore obtained, allows comparison with other proposed bypass routes or variations, when the same process is applied.