Meet our team

Our team of qualified archaeologists, GPR specialists and administrative support staff have decades of relevant professional experience and local knowledge, and a solid reputation with a wide range of proponents, government agencies and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders.

Our Company Director and Principal Archaeologist, Dr Mary-Jean Sutton has over two decades of experience with Aboriginal and historic archaeology and heritage management, having successfully delivered hundreds of complex heritage project outputs.  Dr Sutton is published in academic journals and has been successfully awarded grants for a range of research and collaborative community heritage projects. Dr Sutton acts as a specialist heritage advisor, including the provision of expert advice and reviews of cultural heritage legislation and policy, to academic, commercial and research organisations.

Supporting Dr Sutton, our team of archaeologists offer world class services bringing a substantial profile of education, expertise and experiences spanning stone artefact analysis, geology, geophysics, geochemistry, anthropology and geographic information systems, including involvement in diverse archaeological projects locally and across the globe.

Dr Mary-Jean Sutton

Company Director

BA Hons. Archaeology, University of Sydney; PhD Archaeology, University of Queensland

Mary-Jean has over two decades of experience within Aboriginal and historical heritage management and archaeology. She is well published in academic journals and authored, co-authored and managed hundreds of archaeological consultancy reports and projects. Mary-Jean’s PhD in archaeology focuses on Aboriginal missions, intangible heritage and historical archaeology.

Mary-Jean maintains affiliations with several professional and academic institutions including the University of Queensland. Mary-Jean is also a recognised professional historian, a Full Member of the Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists Inc, member of the Specialist Heritage Committee for EIANZ and Fellow of the Australian Anthropological Society. She has been awarded several research grants for research and collaborative community cultural heritage projects in Mapoon in Cape York Queensland, including an Australian Geographic Seed Grant, AIATSIS Research Grant, Ceridwen Indigenous Scholarship, Berndt Postgraduate Research Grant and funding from the Western Cape Community Co-Existence Agreement Trust and Australian Government National Indigenous Australians Agency.

Mary-Jean has managed many complex Aboriginal and Historical Heritage Assessments as part of the Environmental Assessment process for Major State Significant Projects in the mining, infrastructure and residential development sectors and with government agencies. Mary-Jean has experience as a heritage adviser to corporations and has prepared expert advice and reviews of cultural heritage legislation and policy to academic, commercial and research organisations. Mary-Jean is an approved provider for Section 10 reporting under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984.

Mary-Jean is also experienced in the preparation of relevant permits and consents, test excavations, salvage investigations, due diligence and desktop reviews, management plans, inductions and training packages and consultation. Mary-Jean has extensive experience working with many Aboriginal communities on projects throughout Australia and regularly collaborates on Indigenous community-based research projects, particularly in Northern New South Wales, Newcastle, Sydney and Cape York regions.

Dr Emma St Pierre

Principal Archaeologist, GPR Co-ordinator

(BA Hons. Archaeology and Anthropology; PhD Archaeological Science, University of Queensland)

Emma has nearly two decades of experience as an archaeologist and heritage practitioner in both Aboriginal and historical heritage in New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and internationally. Emma has extensive experience undertaking Aboriginal cultural heritage assessments including Aboriginal community consultation, management of large-scale excavation and survey programs, detailed site recording, artefact analysis and production of assessment reports and management plans. Through this experience Emma has developed good working relationships with the Aboriginal communities, government agencies and proponents with whom she works. Emma is a Full Member of the Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists Inc. and is an approved provider for Section 10 reporting under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984.

Emma is our ground-penetrating radar (GPR) co-ordinator and has experience conducting GPR investigations since 2015, with a particular focus on the identification of unmarked graves. Major project experience includes the identification of war graves at Australian war cemeteries in Papua New Guinea, and the Mapoon Unmarked Graves and Cemeteries Project.  Emma works closely with GPR world expert Prof. Lawrence Conyers and is involved in numerous partnerships with Aboriginal communities in NSW and QLD for the management of cemeteries and the resting places of their ancestors. Emma was the editor of the Australian Government funded National toolkit A Grave Responsibility to Honour Our Ancestors: A National Guide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities to Identify and Protect Unmarked Graves and Cemeteries.

Emma has a PhD in Archaeological Science specialising in geochemistry, including uranium-series dating, major and trace element analysis and isotope (Sr-Nd-Pb) analysis; palaeoclimatology; and cave survey and excavation. Emma is widely published in academic journals and publications, and in addition to her experience in Australia, she has conducted archaeological consulting and research projects in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, East Timor and New Zealand. Emma is based in Dunedin, New Zealand and continues to be involved in Australian and international archaeological research projects.

Gina Scheer

Principal Archaeologist & Heritage Consultant

BA (Hons) Archaeology University of Sydney (2000) and M Heritage Conservation University of Sydney (2013).

Gina has worked as an archaeologist and a heritage consultant since 2002. Her expertise includes project management, heritage management advice, built heritage assessments and impact statements, conservation management plans, heritage studies and archaeological reports, as well as artefact analysis, historical archaeological assessments and research design reports for State significant projects. Her fieldwork includes excavating and monitoring under Section 60 permit applications for State significant sites.

Her professional background includes managing numbers of cultural heritage and educational projects organised with the University of Sydney and participation in archaeological projects and landscape surveys in Greece and in Cyprus. Prior to commencing as a sub-consultant in 2002, Gina was an administrator at the University of Sydney, as well as with public health organisations and advertising agencies. Through her roles in these diverse agencies, she has gained invaluable experience with communications and with management.

Gina has now consolidated a sound knowledge of relevant State and Commonwealth heritage and conservation legislation and guidelines. She has a demonstrated capacity to provide heritage advice and guidance for a range of private and public clients and to translate for them the complexities of planning and heritage legislation.

Elle Lillis

Principal Archaeologist, GIS Specialist

(BA & Diploma of Languages, University of Newcastle; Master of Archaeological Science, Australian National University)

Elle has worked as an archaeologist since 2015 with experience as a consultant throughout New South Wales and the ACT and has worked on a diverse range of projects since 2013. Elle’s Master of Archaeological Science research was a spatial distribution analysis of Aboriginal sites on the south coast of NSW and she has worked on research projects in Australia, the Pacific and Europe.

As a consultant Elle has experience in both Aboriginal and historic heritage, conducting heritage assessments including archaeological survey and excavation, detailed site recording, GIS and mapping, and report and permit preparation for government agencies and commercial development projects, including state significant infrastructure projects. Through her work Elle has developed excellent relationships and worked in collaboration with Indigenous communities, stakeholders, statutory agencies and clients. Elle is an approved provider for Section 10 reporting under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984.

Elle has expertise in GIS and planning and has experience in preparation of cultural mapping in collaboration with Traditional Owners, Elders and knowledge holders, as well as landform archaeological sensitivity mapping and predictive modelling. Elle also assists with GPR investigations and artefact analysis, with experience analysing assemblages of stone artefacts spanning Pleistocene to Holocene occupation from both inland and coastal sites in NSW.

Julian Travaglia

Principal Archaeologist, Stone Artefact Analysis

(BA Hons. Archaeology, University of Queensland)

Julian has worked as an archaeologist since 2006 and been involved in a variety of projects that span both Aboriginal and historical archaeology. Julian has extensive experience managing projects, producing Aboriginal due diligence and archaeological assessments including extensive research, Aboriginal community consultation, and conducting and supervising Aboriginal and historical archaeological surveys, excavations (manual and mechanical) and monitoring programs. Julian specialises in the detailed recording and analysis of Aboriginal stone tools for significant infrastructure, mining and development projects, and producing the corresponding salvage reports.

Julian also has experience in historical heritage research and searches, historical heritage survey, and reporting requirements for historical heritage assessments. Julian regularly assists in ground-penetrating radar surveys and data collection including projects on unmarked Aboriginal graves in Cape York and Fingal, Queensland and war graves in Papua New Guinea.

Martin Wright

Senior Archaeologist

(BA Hons. Archaeology, University of Sydney, B. Bus. Economics, Queensland University of Technology)

Martin has worked as an archaeologist since 2017, undertaking indigenous investigations within New South Wales and working as a research assistant and laboratory manager with the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sydney. Martin’s research interests have also led him to excavate in Macedonia, Spain, and Sri Lanka.

Martin is a specialist in archaeomalacology (the analysis of shellfish in archaeological contexts), and has worked with materials from New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, the Northern Territory, and Sri Lanka. Martin’s Honours thesis used shell midden material from far north Queensland to investigate how the concept of economic intensification can be used to identify population pressure. Martin will expand these ideas in his PhD research into Holocene midden sites across southern Sri Lanka.

At the University of Sydney, Martin worked with large collections of indigenous lithic material from New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria. As part of this work, he identified the types of artefacts and the raw materials from which they were composed, and for selected specimens, he undertook photogrammetry to produce 3D models.

Harrison Rees Parkes

Graduate Geomorphologist GIS/Spatial Analysis Assistant 

Harrison is currently completing his final year of Bachelor of Science at the University of Newcastle, where he is completing a double major in Earth Science and Geography.

Throughout his degree, Harrison has gained experience in environmental impact assessments, fresh-water ecology sampling, and has specialised in environmental GIS and Remote sensing applications. Harrison has gained experience in mapping the impact of sea level rise on coastal communities and infrastructure, shoreface bathymetric profile changes along the NSW coastline, and remote sensing of coastal habitats including mangrove forests and seagrass meadows.

Harrison has a broad range of experience with GIS systems and applications and is passionate about expanding his GIS skills and abilities into the field of heritage consultancy.

Kelly Kent

Office Manager

Kelly joined Virtus Heritage in August 2019.  She has well over 10 years experience as a legal secretary in Brisbane. Kelly is currently obtaining her Certificate IV in Bookkeeping and Accounting. Kelly is assisting in a wide range of Aboriginal cultural heritage and historical archaeological projects including as Consultation Co-ordinator and Head Administrator.

Kelly’s great grandfather Edward Edwards was born in Goodooga, New South Wales and was part of the Muruwari tribe.  She is passionate about working in this role and working with communities to assess, protect and manage their cultural heritage. As Consultation Co-ordinator, Kelly works with other team members to co-ordinate community consultation protocols and documents for our clients and Aboriginal parties and organisations.

In September 2019, Kelly helped Virtus Heritage obtain ISO9001:2015 Certification for the provision of archaeology, cultural heritage, history and geophysics business and consultancy services. Our Quality Management focuses on consistently meeting client requirements and enhancing their satisfaction aligned with the organisation’s purpose, strategic direction, policies and procedures.

Teleahsia Togo

Administration Assistant

Teleahsia is one of our recently joined Virtus Heritage members. She has spent the last 3 years working within a local Aboriginal organisation teaching and sharing local cultural knowledge throughout the Northern NSW and Southern Gold Coast areas mainly delivering school based educational programs aiming to introduce local Aboriginal knowledge within our youths. Teleahsia will be working alongside Kelly in administration and will also be working alongside Xan in our creative’s team

Teleahsia is a proud local Bundjalung and South Sea Islander women with links to Ambae, Santo and Paama Islands, Vanuatu. Her Great grandmother being of Bundjalung descent though she was raised in Southport, QLD. Her Great grandfather being of South Sea Island descent from Paama Island, Vanuatu. Teleahsia is a part of one of the biggest South Sea Islander here on the Tweed. She is passionate about local as well as hers and local family’s history, as her own family link in with many other local Aboriginal families. Teleahsia also has a strong connection to local community and is passionate about working with community in a supportive role alongside out team members.

Caroline Levings

Administrative Assistant

Bachelor of Science (Marine), University of New England; Bachelor of Education (Primary), Queensland University of Technology

Caroline works for Virtus Heritage team in a part time support role and is excited to broaden her skills in administration and community education. Caroline has worked as a schoolteacher in Far North Queensland, Gold Coast and Northern NSW schools for the past 14 years. Through her school and tutoring roles in Far North Qld she collaboratively worked alongside Indigenous teachers and tutors to build positive relationships with Indigenous students and their communities.

Caroline’s cultural background is Sri Lankan and Filipino, and she is passionate about the environment, all things food and nutrition, music and art. She is keen to work alongside the Virtus Heritage team in a supportive role in research and education of Australia’s rich cultural and historical heritage.

Tas Devine

Administrative Assistant

Our Administrative Assistant Tas is the face behind the reception desk in the Kingscliff office and the voice you’ll most likely hear when calling Virtus Heritage. Tas has a background in retail and customer service for 10 years with a strong passion for helping people. Administration is a new career venture for Tas however the customer service skills gained in her previous jobs have allowed her to adapt within a new working environment and assist all reception needs and enquiries effortlessly.

Tas has completed an Indesign course and assists with design and marketing projects. With a strong willingness to learn Tas is accepting all training offers to gain skills and knowledge to further her career in administration and assist in all job requirements needed to complete tasks to the best of her ability.

Clara Mundy Romero

Junior Administration Assistant

Hello, my name is Clara and I am working at Virtus Heritage as an Junior Administration Assistant in Pottsville NSW. I’m working 22 hours a week, Monday – Wednesday and will be receiving training for Microsoft Word and other software. I’m always determined to complete the work that is given to me and I’m enjoying talking to the other staff members who are training and helping me with jobs. I don’t have any prior work experience of any kind, so this type of position is a good learning experience for me. I am a lot younger than most, so my experience and talent in this field are developing and will surely rise with more training. Studying a Cert 3 in Career Advancement at TAFE NSW has helped me gain some insight as to what it’s like to be actively working and socializing. My personality is usually quiet and timid so I often feel shy. I am aiming to develop my confidence and skills so I can complete my work to the best of my ability.

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