Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 Reform

Legislative reform is needed to protect Aboriginal Cultural Heritage in Victoria.

As Victorian Traditional Owners, custodians of the oldest living Culture on earth and an independent statutory authority, Council felt that it was time for the Act to realise its intention. Whilst strong, the Act fails in key areas to enshrine self-determination adequately or respectfully in its prescription for the management and protection of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage on the lands now known as the state of Victoria.

On 22 June 2020, Council published Taking Control of Our Heritage, a discussion paper on legislative reform of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006. The objective of the discussion paper was to have a genuine conversation with Traditional Owners, land managers, the broader community and the government on the operation of the Act.

The primary focus of the review was the Act, however, it has necessarily brought to the fore issues around the Act’s associated Aboriginal Heritage Regulations 2018 (Regulations) and the Geographic Place Names Act 1998. Council will consider this work later in 2021.

Council’s Legislative Review and Regulatory Functions Committee (LRRFC) has overseen the development of Council’s proposals for legislative reform. Through release of the discussion paper in mid-2020, followed by comprehensive community consultation and rigorous review of submissions in late 2020, it has developed proposals informed by policy and community perspectives. These published proposals, Taking Control of Our Heritage Aboriginal People caring for Aboriginal Heritage - Recommendations for self-determined reform of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006, were released in April 2021 for further community consultation.

The final proposed suite of reforms is planned to be introduced in mid-2021. By this time, during the life of the current Parliament, it will be 5 years after the 2016 amendments to the Act and 15 years since the Act came into existence.

Council’s ambition for the proposals is that through incorporating a benchmarked, national set of Best Practice Standards into Victoria’s own legislation, while fully realising the Declaration, Victoria’s Aboriginal Cultural Heritage legislative can set a benchmark at both national and international levels.

Reviewed 19 April 2021

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