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Changi Chapel Heritage Management Plan

Changi Chapel is included on the Commonwealth Heritage List and managed by the National Capital Authority (NCA). The NCA manages the Australian Government's continuing interest in the planning and development of Canberra as the Australian National Capital.

To guide the management of Changi Chapel, the NCA has prepared a management plan to identify, protect and manage its heritage values. The management plan was prepared in accordance with the heritage management principles and requirements for management plans under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The final plan has been considered by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.

Purpose of Report

Changi Chapel is an item on the Commonwealth Heritage List. It is located within the 'RMC Duntroon Conservation Area', which is also listed on the Commonwealth Heritage List. The Commonwealth Heritage List was created under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). It recognises places owned or managed by the Commonwealth Government that have Commonwealth Heritage values.

Under the EPBC Act, all Commonwealth agencies are required to prepare management plans for Commonwealth Heritage Listed places under their management. The purpose of this management plan is to identify, protect and manage the heritage values of Changi Chapel. This management plan was prepared in accordance with the heritage management principles and requirements under the EPBC Act.

This management plan has been considered by the Department of the Environment.

Key Findings

Changi Chapel is significant for its strong association with Australia's involvement during World War II in conflicts against the Japanese in Asia and the Pacific, and with Australia's defence of Singapore. Changi Chapel is also closely associated with Changi Camp (a World War II Prisoner of War camp) and its former prisoners. The Chapel was constructed as a Roman Catholic Chapel in 1944 by prisoners held by the Japanese military forces.

It reflects the enduring faith of prisoners subject to adverse conditions, and the innovation and ingenuity of the prisoners who constructed the Chapel using scrounged building materials. The Chapel has symbolic value for all Australian former Prisoners of War as a National Memorial to Prisoners of War, particularly those from World War II. The Chapel is also a rare surviving structure built by allied Prisoners of War overseas, which was salvaged and reconstructed in Australia to its original plans.

When Changi Camp was liberated in 1945, the Chapel was recognised as significant and deliberately salvaged, recorded, dismantled and transported to Australia. It was kept in storage until 1988, when it was reconstructed at Duntroon as a National Memorial to over 35,000 Australian Prisoners of War.

Recommendations

The management plan includes a range of conservation policies and recommendations to conserve, interpret and manage Changi Chapel. The key recommendations aim to:

  • Conserve and retain the original fabric of the Chapel;
  • Maintain the landscape setting of the Chapel;
  • Support the formal and ceremonial use of Changi Chapel as a memorial chapel;
  • Promote the function of the Chapel as a National Memorial to Prisoners of War;
  • Support the community attachment to the Chapel; and
  • Continue to work with Defence on the co-management of the site.

Further Information

For further information, please contact the NCA Cultural Heritage Manager on heritage@natcap.gov.au or T 02 6271 2888.