This week the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council has published Registered Aboriginal Parties and Fieldwork During COVID19 Restrictions Policy Guidelines.
The current COVID19 pandemic has resulted in a real and significant threat to the health and wellbeing of peoples globally including in Victoria. Aboriginal communities have been identified as being particularly susceptible to the health risks posed by this disease. Registered Aboriginal parties (RAPs) as Aboriginal cultural organisations and as employers at law owe cultural and legal responsibilities to their staff and the communities of which they are part.
In particular, a RAP has a legal obligation to ensure the health and safety of its employees and the environments in which they operate. This legal obligation extends to a RAP needing to take account of the particular circumstances of each of their employees. As such the legal obligation of a RAP to its employees during the pandemic may exceed those of employers to their employees generally. A RAP’s cultural obligations to their communities certainly exceed those of employers generally.
The purpose of Council’s policy guideline is to provide guidance for RAPs, heritage advisors and sponsors as to the circumstances in which cultural heritage management permit or cultural heritage permit fieldwork can proceed in the current circumstances.
Reviewed 23 June 2021