The Bundian Way

Our Thoughts About the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Reforms Bill in NSW

Results of the public consultation about the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Reforms Bill have been released on the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage website. The summary of submissions report was published in December 2018, and collates 313 submissions, collected in 2017 and 2018.

The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Reforms Bill proposes to give Aboriginal people more ownership and control of their cultural heritage. GML strongly supports this assertion as did all stakeholder groups who participated in the public consultation.

GML works with a range of NSW Aboriginal communities implementing existing OEH policy for the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage within the framework of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NSW).

We commend the preparation of new, stand-alone legislation for the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage and support the primacy of the Aboriginal people in managing their own heritage. GML is an advocate for cultural heritage management and protection and we particularly commend the new broadened definitions of cultural heritage.

The summary of submissions report shows excerpts from our contribution to the public consultation report as detailed below.

Definition of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage

  • We particularly commend the broadened definitions of Aboriginal cultural heritage and the emphasis on recognising the primacy of Aboriginal people in decision-making around their heritage … GML supports an amended definition of Aboriginal heritage to provide for the protection of a broad range of Aboriginal cultural values, focusing on more than just archaeological objects. (GML Heritage, p 8)

Support for Transferring Ownership to Aboriginal People

  • GML supports the legal recognition that Aboriginal people are the rightful custodians and managers of their own cultural heritage values. We believe that this recognition is a crucial step in the future management of Aboriginal cultural heritage. It is essential that this recognition is meaningful and fully supported. (GML Heritage, p 11)

Delegations and Subcommittees

  • The ACH Authority should have the broadest range of skills. The authority should be supported with resources and mechanisms available to seek expert advice on values assessment and governance issues where it feels it requires further expert input. (GML Heritage, p 16)

Funding and Resourcing

  • The resource requirements for the information management system will need to be carefully considered and funding allocated to support the development of base information layers, through research, community engagement, feedback and ground-truthing. (GML Heritage, p 51)
  • Adequate support for the operation of the new legislative framework should be enshrined in the legislation or associated regulations to allow for the collection of fees as well as the allocation of public monies. (GML Heritage, p 51)

The Office of Environment and Heritage provides further information about the next steps in the process.