Recommendation Eleven: Extension of Chairperson Terms

Realising self-determined ownership of our Culture, Heritage, History and Country 2021

"When you’re trying to develop relationships and really connect with people, to make a diff erence through education, it’s almost impossible in under a year."


There are concerns about management of stakeholder relationships and the stability of Council due to the Council Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson one-year terms.


Under section 138 of the Act, the Council’s Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson, "hold office for one year; and are each eligible for re-election for two further terms of one year."


That the Act be amended to extend election terms to two years. The current system of one-year leadership terms is unworkable. Longer terms will allow the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson to provide stability of leadership, properly develop relationships, effectively represent the Traditional Owner sector, ensure that tacit knowledge is not lost and continue the momentum built over the last term.

Building on the above proposal, the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson should only be eligible for one term of re-election. This would mean that the total amount of time that a Council member could hold either of these offices would be four years.


Four-year term most appropriate

Currently, both the Chairperson and the Deputy Chairperson are only eligible for terms of one year at a time. As outlined by this proposal, and supported by Traditional Owner organisation submissions, short leadership terms can be disruptive. 

While longer terms can enhance confidence, four-year terms (as opposed to six) would enable a good balance between stability of leadership and strengthening of relationships with all of Council’s stakeholders. It would also allow room for for the progression and flow of new ideas, fresh perspectives, diverse opinions and varied skill sets.

Submission response to the recommendation

AACAI supports the proposal to extend the term of the Chair and Deputy of the VAHC. No precise determination has been made on timing, however in principle it could align to the terms for ‘local government’, currently four years.

Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists Inc. (AACAI)

The AACAI is an organisation for professionals working in all fields of contract and public archaeology. As the professional association for consulting archaeologists in Australia, it develops best practice in this field, promotes training and communication and provides support for its members. The Association liaises with Traditional Owner groups and other stakeholders and influences policy and decision makers to protect and manage cultural and historical heritage in this Country. It is affiliated with the Australian Archaeological Association Inc. and is a Foundation Member of the Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.

Community support for the recommendation

Most submissions had no comment on this recommendation or supported it with no further or alternative suggestions. The general view was that the extension of the Chairperson’s term is fitting, and that the overall term for a Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson being restricted to four years is appropriate.

However, the following notable suggestion was received from a Heritage – Policy sector submission:

"Terms of appointment should be extended to 3 years (not 2). This would be in line with the current 3-year term of appointment of Council members generally. Consequently, eligibility for re-election should be limited to once, i.e. the total amount of time a Council member could hold either of those offices would be six (6) years."

UNDRIP and Best Practice Standards


This issue should be considered in relation to Article 23:

"Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for exercising their right to development. Indigenous peoples have the right to be actively involved in developing and determining health, housing and other economic and social programmes affecting them and, as far as possible, to administer such programmes through their own institutions."

Best practice standards in Indigenous cultural heritage management and legislation

This recommendation should be considered in relation to Best Practice Standard 6 – Process:

"The role of ICH in the process of consideration of development proposals in a jurisdiction is important. So, to is the process of consideration of the management of ICH in the context of a specific proposal."