Discussion Paper for self-determined reform of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006

The Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council is calling for legislative reform to protect Aboriginal Cultural Heritage

Sunday, 21 June 2020 at 11:37 pm
Melbourne metropolitan
Department of Premier and Cabinet
Cover of the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council's 'Taking Control of Our Heritage - Recommendations for Reform of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006'

Reviewing the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006

To ensure Traditional Owners have the requisite regulatory support to protect the oldest living Culture on earth, the Council is undertaking a review of the Act.

Council has developed a Discussion Paper to consider key sections of the Act that need strengthening to enshrine both self-determination and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in Victorian Aboriginal Cultural Heritage legislation.

The protection of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage in Victoria has only been necessitated since intrusion on our Country. Across Australia, the 1993 federal Native Title Act offered a statutory acknowledgement of ownership that was limited in its approach to connection to Country. In Victoria, this necessitated that key legislation was passed to ensure security for our Traditional Owners.

In 2007, the Aboriginal Heritage Act came into being, enshrining Council and its responsibilities to register Aboriginal parties to manage both Country and Cultural Heritage. Also in 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the significant Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Supporting the survival, dignity and wellbeing of Our People, the Declaration is the foundation of Council's work.

The Aboriginal Heritage Act and Declaration, together, provide some of the greatest protections for Traditional Owners in the country. However, there is still much to be done in realising a fundamentally self-determined and tangible ownership of our Culture, Heritage, History and Country.

Taking Control of Our Heritage

Council has today published Taking Control of Our Heritage, a Discussion Paper on legislative reform of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006. The objective of the Paper is to help everyone, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, Victorian and non-Victorian, have their say on the operation of the Act.

The Paper organises proposals for legislative change into themes corresponding to mechanisms and parts of the Act. Each has its own section which explains the key purpose of the proposed change and invites submissions and questions.

The primary focus of the review is the Act, however, if issues raised relate to the Aboriginal Heritage Regulations 2018 these will also be considered.

We all have a part to play in ensuring our Peoples’ rights to self-determination, our Culture and Country. We seek the support and contribution of everyone to work with us on ensuring that the statutory protections our Peoples have for their Culture is commensurate to over 40,000 years of connection to Country.


Read the Discussion Paper

More about Aboriginal Cultural Heritage legislation

Caring for Country

The Paper was launched at Council’s live digital event for legislative reform:

View the event on YouTube

Caring for Country, the event at Fed Square on 24th June 2020, provided a platform for Traditional Owners to share their views and experiences about caring for Country and the legislation through which they do this. The discussion focused on the current Australian/ Victorian legislations that protect Aboriginal Cultural Heritage and explore what additional legislative protections are required to ensure all in the community better respect and care for Country.

The live streamed panel discussion was hosted by Racquel Kerr, joined by panel participants Hans Bokelund, Rodney Carter, Jamie Lowe and Rachel Perkins.