Context is one of Australia’s most respected heritage consultancies. We provide balanced solutions for heritage places and communities that respond to our clients’ needs and the complexities, opportunities and challenges of our time.
Context’s portfolio includes strategic heritage advice, place-based and social histories, integrated heritage values assessment, heritage studies across Victoria, conservation management plans for significant places and landscapes, Aboriginal cultural values, and interpretation and placemaking.
Our services are founded on integrity, balance, excellence and a strong commitment to making a difference in our communities and the environment. We are known for our community centred approach to heritage planning, management, conservation and activation. Our work results in better conservation and management of buildings, landscapes and Aboriginal places.
In 2017, on the eve of celebrating 30 years of Context, we became part of the GML Heritage group. Together Context and GML have over 60 years of experience in the heritage industry, providing trusted advice to private and government sector clients.
The founder of Context, Chris Johnston, established a Melbourne-based heritage consultancy in late 1984. It was renamed Context in 1988. Chris’ skills in strategic planning, facilitation, working with communities, and social and aesthetic values assessment quickly became the fundamental elements of Context’s services. Creating opportunities for young professionals was always one of Chris’s priorities. Merging the business with GML Heritage in 2017 allowed for an alliance and expansion of complementary services. With the merger now complete, Chris continues with her research, writing and facilitation on place-attachment and intangible cultural heritage focussing mostly now on Aboriginal communities and organisations. Since the merger, Chris now has more time to engage with her local community in the Central Victorian Goldfields region and to pursue her love of ceramics, including an annual opening of her ceramics studio.
Louise Honman joined Context in 2008 working alongside Chris in managing the business until 2017. By bringing her urban and built heritage skills she was instrumental in expanding the range of services Context could offer in the heritage industry. Her work across state and local government focussed on the protection and conservation of many places throughout metropolitan and regional Victoria. After retiring from Context in 2018 she is now pursuing academic study in the field of ethnomusicology.
We have worked on over 2000 projects, in suburbs and cities, as well as iconic destinations and World Heritage sites such as the Kingston and Arthur’s Vale Historic Area in Norfolk Island, Budj Bim and the Great Barrier Reef.
Lifelong Learning at Context and GML
At Context and GML, lifelong learning is something we value. We think there is always something new to discover about ourselves, our work and our world. We are committed to providing a continuous improvement program that not only helps our people master working life at Context and GML, but also engages them in industry theory and practice and helps them maintain their wellbeing. Our people learn from their colleagues and external speakers about new research, contemporary industry issues, use of software programs, self-care and wellbeing, contract reviews and Work Health and Safety.
Today Context is part of the GML Heritage group of companies that are largely employee owned. The companies are governed by separate boards comprised of non-executive and executive directors. Each board is led by a non-executive chairperson.
The boards are strategic in focus and lead the company’s vision to provide influential and creative services that re-shape the future of heritage. Implementation of the vision is the responsibility of the CEO and the executive management team across Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.
Memberships and Panels
We are pre-approved to sit on several procurement panels, simplifying the engagement process for many government agencies. Contact us to find out if we are pre-approved in your department.
Context is a proud member of the National Trust. Our consultants are registered architects, certified practising planners, professional historians and members of professional heritage and archaeology associations.
Carefully considering and understanding the meanings and values associated with the past is at the heart of our business. We applied that same rigour to identifying our organisational values.
Our values are what we stand for. They shape our future by guiding the work we do, how we relate to our clients and each other and how we make decisions.
We care deeply about heritage, communities and the environment. We feel privileged to do our work and take our responsibility as heritage champions seriously. We are committed to truth-telling and engaging with First Nations peoples. We are dedicated to understanding the values and meanings of historic places and the special attachments people have. We believe the past helps us to understand ourselves and offers all communities a richer experience of life.
We are a business with a heart. Real relationships are the foundation of us. We are collaborative and collegial and the better for it. We believe communication works best when it’s inclusive and when we feel free to exchange ideas. Conserving, commemorating, and celebrating places for current and future generations really matters to us.
We recognise there are many experiences of history and we value the diversity of people’s lived experience. We know that we might have different ideas, but we work together to find positive heritage solutions. We encourage staff to think for themselves, be approachable and remain open to difference. We listen and care about what people tell us because it makes us better at work and life.
We value knowledge because it invigorates us and makes us grow. We share our knowledge generously, with each other and with our community. We are genuinely curious about the past. We persevere to discover, recover and reimagine history, heritage and culture. We expect and encourage our staff to keep extending the boundaries of their knowledge because it helps them navigate the world’s complexity and offer relevant and meaningful advice.
We are determined to retain our independence and legacy as trusted advisors. We draw on our deep experience and expertise to offer courageous advice. We are always trying to deliver something which is greater than the sum of its parts—beyond the here and now.