Legislative reform is needed

The Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 needs reform to protect Aboriginal Cultural Heritage in Victoria

Sunday, 9 May 2021 at 11:30 pm
Melbourne metropolitan
Department of Premier and Cabinet

Council is pleased that such a broad range of people, businesses and organisations responded to its Taking Control of Our Heritage, a discussion paper on legislative reform of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006.

Each submission was thoughtful and made a valuable contribution to our work. We thank all those who participated for their engagement.

Whilst Council appreciates the diversity of perspectives in the submissions, it has grave concerns at the underlying racism in many of the submissions. Discrimination can take many forms and, at its worst, is applied wrongfully when it is based on forms of prejudices.  However, the good values that most communities have, if not aspire too, is what the majority of us agree on and have in our hearts. Overall, the responses are considered and appropriate but, across some sectors, the overwhelming considerations are that Aboriginal Peoples cannot responsibly undertake the function of the Act. It is our ancestry, our genetic makeup, our connection to Culture that makes us resilient, informed and consultative Peoples. These are the same things that some consider render us unable to manage the functions of the Act that are often in the hands of bureaucrats, non-Traditional Owners and other entities whose Culture it isn’t.

It is essential that, as a society, we truly understand that Traditional Owners are the only comprehensive knowledge holders of their Cultural Heritage. Once we understand that one, fundamental truth, then the changes recommended for their management of that Cultural Heritage are clear and purposeful. We do this for you, we do this so as not to further lose what we have, we do this to reverse the destruction that began not so long ago and to now build and create together.

Rodney Carter, Chairperson

Through the release of the Discussion Paper in mid-2020, followed by comprehensive community consultation and rigorous review of submissions in late 2020, it has developed these proposals informed by policy and community perspectives

The proposed suite of reforms are planned to be introduced in early-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, whilst fully realising the Declaration, Victoria’s Aboriginal Cultural Heritage legislative can set a benchmark at both national and international levels.

Taking Control of Our Heritage Aboriginal People caring for Aboriginal Heritage - Recommendations for self-determined reform of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006

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