The Aboriginal Heritage Council was created in May 2007 as part of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006. Before the act was amended, only groups with Traditional Owner Settlement Agreements were able to make decisions on Aboriginal heritage for an area of country.
Council appoints Registered Aboriginal Parties to manage and protect local heritage within their country.
There are 11 Traditional Owners, chosen by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. All members live in Victoria and have knowledge of Aboriginal cultural heritage.
Responsibilities of Council
As an independent statutory body, Council can:
- Make decisions on Registered Aboriginal Party applications.
- Oversee Registered Aboriginal Party operations.
- Protect ancestors’ resting places and return ancestors to country.
- Manage reporting of ancestral remains. Remains are usually held by museums and universities or uncovered during construction works.
- Manage reporting of secret or sacred objects.
- Manage the Victorian Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Fund.
- Promote awareness and understanding of Aboriginal cultural heritage.
- Provide advice to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Secretary.