Archaeological Salvage

Many projects, both large and small, require archaeological salvage. Usually carried out as part of the conditions of an approved CHMP, salvage is the process of recovering cultural deposits from known Aboriginal places in order to mitigate harm proposed to occur by a particular activity or development. Salvage programs typically take place prior to the commencement of an activity or development, however occasionally they may also occur during an activity or development.

When is an archaeological salvage required?

If an Aboriginal place is present within an activity area, it may be a condition of the approved CHMP that an archaeological salvage program take place prior to the commencement of works or during works. This is to ensure that a sample of any remaining Aboriginal cultural deposits within the activity area are recovered. Archaeological salvage is typically required when it is deemed likely that further cultural material may be present within an activity area, following the preparation and approval of a CHMP, and harm to that Aboriginal cultural heritage material cannot be avoided or minimised by the proposed activity.

What is involved in an archaeological salvage?

Archaeological salvage involves the recovery of Aboriginal cultural deposits associated with an Aboriginal place. Salvage programs are developed on a case by case basis and as such, are tailored to suit the size, condition of, and type of Aboriginal place being salvaged. Salvage programs are typically carried out in consultation with the relevant RAP/Aboriginal Traditional Owner group/s.

The methods employed for the salvage of Aboriginal places in Victoria include:

  • Surface Salvage;
  • Manual Salvage Excavation;
  • Mechanical Salvage Excavation.

The most appropriate method of salvage will be determined by your Heritage Advisor in consultation with the RAP/Aboriginal Traditional Owner group/s prior to the approval of your CHMP.

Surface Salvage

Surface salvage programs involve the collection of cultural deposits/artefacts from the ground surface, and do not require sub surface excavation.

Manual Salvage Excavation

Manual salvage programs involve the manual excavation of one or more salvage pits. These salvage pits are strategically placed across the activity area in locations that are known or considered most likely to contain sub surface cultural deposits and can vary in size and configuration, depending on what is considered to be most appropriate.

Mechanical Salvage Excavation

Mechanical salvage programs involve the mechanical excavation of one or more salvage pits with an excavator. Like manual salvage programs, these salvage pits are strategically placed across the activity area in locations that are known or considered most likely to contain sub surface deposits and can vary in size and configuration. Mechanical salvage programs are often implemented for large-scale salvage projects where manual digging would be unsuitable.

Depending on the nature of the Aboriginal place subject to salvage a combination of the above methods may also be employed.

How much does an archaeological salvage cost?

Archaeological salvage programs are developed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to suit the size, condition of, and type of Aboriginal place being salvaged. Consequently, the costs associated with archaeological salvage can differ greatly.

Jem Archaeology prides itself on providing clients with the most cost effective budgeting framework, whilst still delivering expert advice and high quality outcomes.

Our upfront advice and vast experience in conducting and managing both small and large scale salvage programs combined with our intricate understanding of Victoria’s variable environmental conditions, allows us to provide you with transparent costings that reflect what you are most likely to incur.

We do not present a ‘best case’ cost when we know that further works may be required, and we never provide unrealistic estimates or present budgeting frameworks with hidden costs.

I didn’t know my project would be subject to an archaeological salvage. What should I do?

If the management conditions of your approved CHMP require archaeological salvage prior to the commencement of works, this generally must be carried out and completed before you are able to begin your activity. However, the salvage does not need to be completed before the required planning permits are issued, meaning you are able to continue with the planning of your project during this time.

It is the sole responsibility of the client to ensure that all management conditions of an approved CHMP have been met prior to the commencement of works. If you have inherited or taken over a project for which the CHMP was prepared and approved under a different developer or entity, and you are unsure whether the required salvage has been carried out, you should contact your Heritage Advisor for guidance. Jem Archaeology are happy to guide you through this process.

Trusting Jem Archaeology with your archaeological salvage

Our staff at Jem Archaeology have over 30 years combined experience in developing and managing both small and large scale salvage programs. Our intricate understanding of the Victorian landscape and how these environmental factors are associated with Aboriginal cultural heritage allows us to give the best advice, and efficiently implement and deliver high quality outcomes.

Jem Archaeology have developed and managed archaeological salvage programs across Victoria and is trusted by small and large scale developers, architects, town planners, local council and other government bodies with their archaeological salvage requirements.

Even if your CHMP was not prepared and managed by Jem Archaeology, we are happy to discuss your specific management conditions, guide you through the archaeological salvage process and develop a realistic salvage program that ensures you are compliant with your management plan.

Led by Jem Archaeology Director, Principal Archaeologist and Heritage Advisor Jen Burch, you can count on the knowledge and expertise of the Jem Archaeology team to guide you through the salvage process and requirements with confidence.









“Jen Burch of Jem Archaeology has provided clear and precise advice, has identified and addressed issues in a practical, transparent and ethical manner and has provided incredible value for money. She has vast knowledge of cultural management and heritage issues, has great rapport with Indigenous parties and has the capacity to efficiently identify and deal with issues that arise. Jen delivers speedy, cost efficient and ethical outcomes. I have no hesitation in recommending Jen Burch and Jem Archaeology to any group or organisation dealing with matters within her area of expertise.”


Warrnambool Project Design and
Development Pty Ltd, 2016


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