Council is concerned at reported problems arising from Local Government Authorities' (LGAs) use of the 'Due Diligence' approach, as a means to assess the requirement for a Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP) for specific activities. The reported harm to Aboriginal Cultural Heritage caused by the resulting activity is an issue that RAPs are facing regularly and is something Council feels strongly about addressing.
The regulations to the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006, the Aboriginal Heritage Regulations 2016, clearly set out the type of activities and in which circumstances a CHMP is required. It is only through the preparation, approval and implementation of a CHMP that a defence can be raised to the offence of harming Aboriginal Cultural Heritage. Completion of a “Due Diligence” approach will not create such a defence.
The Council would like to take this opportunity to remind LGAs that Victoria’s RAPs and Traditional Owners are the primary knowledge keepers of all matters relating to Victorian Aboriginal Cultural Heritage. This is not only true for physical, tangible Aboriginal Cultural Heritage, but also for Intangible Aboriginal Cultural Heritage.
Council would like to encourage all LGAs to ensure all planning applications are subject to the legislated processes necessary to ensure the protection of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage. One method of achieving this is to ensure that any development proposal that has relied on a “Due Diligence” approach to an assessment of risks to Aboriginal Cultural Heritage has at the very least involved consultation with the relevant RAP.
Reviewed 23 June 2021