Aboriginal Heritage Act review

A consultation paper has been released for public comment on ways to improve the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (WA). Submissions are due by 1 June 2018.

Public consultations across the State will be undertaken throughout May 2018, and draft legislation will be released for comment thereafter. The WA government hopes to pass amending legislation by 2020.

In the paper, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Ben Wyatt MLA states:

It is time for the Act to be modernised in a way that is respectful of Aboriginal people and their heritage, and to ensure that our Aboriginal heritage is recognised, protected and celebrated by all Western Australians today and for generations to come.”

The paper includes questions on:

  • whether the framing of the Act in the long title is appropriate
  • what the best way would be to consult with the right Aboriginal people about the existence, protection and impacts of activities on Aboriginal heritage
  • the role and effectiveness of honorary wardens
  • the role and functions of the Aboriginal Cultural Material Committee, the Registrar and the Minister, and whether these serve the purposes of the Act
  • whether the definitions of places, sites and objects capture all Aboriginal heritage warranting protection under the Act
  • the efficacy of declaring protected areas for the protection of areas of outstanding importance
  • whether the Act should cover Aboriginal remains
  • what types of activities should require consent or authorisation under the Act
  • who should provide consent or authorisation for activities that affect sites
  • how to determine an impact on a site, including the non-physical aspects of a site
  • how the section 18 process for seeking consent in relation to impacts on sites can be improved
  • the adequacy of enforcement measures under the Act and how they can be improved
  • whether the disclosure of sites should not be required where it is against customary protocols
  • what the criteria for assessing the significance of a site should be
  • what the procedures for changing register details, including to add or remove sites, should be
  • whether any other changes to the Act are required (by including or excluding provisions).

You can read the announcement here and read the consultation paper here.

If you would like assistance in preparing a submission, or in understanding the potential implications of any proposed reforms, contact Maria Lamattina.