Aboriginal Cultural Heritage refers to the knowledge and lore, practices and people, objects and places that are valued, culturally meaningful and connected to identity and Country.
It shapes identity and is a lived spirituality fundamental to the wellbeing of communities through connectedness across generations.
Our Cultural Heritage has been passed from the Ancestors to future generations through today’s Traditional Owners whose responsibilities are profound and lifelong.
Aboriginal Cultural Heritage is defined in the Act however Council has an inclusive and holistic lived understanding of tangible and intangible Cultural Heritage that includes and provides lived experience to the Act’s definitions.
We respectfully refer to Aboriginal Ancestral Remains as Ancestors. They are the whole or part of the body of an Aboriginal person from the past and are the relatives of today’s Traditional Owners.
The Aboriginal Heritage Act provides protection for Ancestors and says that Ancestral Remains should be owned by and returned to Traditional Owners of the area they came from.
Under the Act it is an offence for anyone who is not the Aboriginal Traditional Owner to have Ancestors in their possession.
Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs) are a representative corporation, inclusive of all Traditional Owners of an identified Country. They have gone through a process of rigorous review, in which their relationship to Country, the inclusivity of their membership and relationship to Ancestors have been considered.
Whilst RAPs have inclusive and representative membership structures, all individuals can choose to become, or not become, members. As cultural responsibility is a collective right, individuals’ family groups, Cultural responsibilities and Country are still protected and represented by the RAP, regardless of their membership.
Sacred Objects are those that have profound significance to Traditional Owners in understanding Country, living Culture and incorporation into spiritual and ceremonial practices.
Secret and/or Sacred Objects are defined in the Act however Council has an inclusive and holistic lived understanding of Sacred Objects that includes and provides lived experience to the Act’s definitions.
Our People’s health and wellbeing is based on themselves making decisions, without outside interference, about their Cultures, Countries and Communities. We must respect the distinct and vibrant structures of governance and decision making that our People have inherited as the First Peoples of this Country.
Without self-determination, we cannot start the difficult but fundamentally necessary process of decolonisation and repossession.
Traditional Owners are Aboriginal People with particular knowledge about traditions, observances, customs or beliefs associated with the area; and have responsibility under Aboriginal tradition for significant Aboriginal places located in, or significant Aboriginal Objects originating from, this area.
The Aboriginal Heritage Act recognises Traditional Owners “as the primary guardians, keepers and knowledge holders of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage”.
Reviewed 08 September 2021