Support is available for those affected by the NSW floods. Resources and information can be found at the NSW Flood Assistance and Resources page.

The Reform Process    

The need for Aboriginal Cultural Heritage reform

Aboriginal people in NSW have been calling for reform for many years. Despite a history of dispossession and displacement of land and traditions, Aboriginal cultural heritage is strong. Through the sharing of culture and connection to Country, it continues to be practiced, maintained and celebrated.

Aboriginal cultural heritage in NSW is currently protected and managed under the provisions of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. Those provisions:

  • Do not give Aboriginal people enough say over the management of their heritage
  • Are outdated and often criticised by both the Aboriginal community, industry and development proponents
  • Are inflexible and inefficient to administer
  • Do not produce the best heritage outcomes

There have been several attempts at gaining separate legal recognition for Aboriginal cultural heritage in NSW. Public feedback from a reform model released by the NSW Government in 2013 revealed general support for the principles of that model, but there were wide ranging and often contrasting views about detailed design elements. After several years of consultation and carefully considering this feedback, a new system for managing and conserving Aboriginal cultural heritage was proposed which is reflected in the draft Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2018.    

Progress following the 2018 Draft Bill and consultation

The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Treaty, the Hon. David Harris MP, is progressing the Aboriginal cultural heritage (ACH) reforms, with commitment to deliver standalone legislation within this term of Parliament. The reform work is being prepared by Aboriginal Affairs NSW within the Premier's Department. Government is engaging closely with Aboriginal stakeholders to improve upon and finalise the model presented in 2018.

Aboriginal Affairs continues to build on the foundations of the 2018 draft Bill and is working towards finalising legislation. The proposed new system aims to fulfil the NSW Government’s commitment to deliver contemporary legislation that respects and conserves Aboriginal cultural heritage for current and future generations. It also aims to recognise Aboriginal custodianship and ensure Aboriginal people have the authority to make decisions about Aboriginal cultural heritage, while providing clear and consistent processes for economic and social development in NSW.

Further conversations between all stakeholders, including Aboriginal communities and knowledge holders will lead to the refinement of more appropriate and informed practices to deliver better management outcomes.

Go Back