The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and the Minister for the Environment are co-sponsors of major reforms to Aboriginal cultural heritage
(ACH) management. The reforms are being prepared by the Office of Environment and Heritage in partnership with Aboriginal Affairs.
Aboriginal people in NSW have been calling for reform for many years. At present, most Aboriginal cultural heritage in NSW is 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- Are outdated and often criticised by both the Aboriginal community, industry and development proponents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
Further, NSW is the only state in Australia without stand-alone Aboriginal cultural heritage legislation.
The NSW Government announced a review of existing ACH laws in 2011. The reforms now planned are expected to bolster self-determination
in Aboriginal communities, and to complement other reforms the Government is undertaking in Aboriginal affairs.
The Government intends its new, stand-alone legislation to give Aboriginal people a greater role in managing and conserving their cultural
The objectives of the reforms are to deliver:
- A stronger voice for Aboriginal people
- Better recognition of Aboriginal cultural heritage values
- Improved outcomes through better information gathering and management
- Greater certainty for industry
- Supported local decision making for Aboriginal communities
Following on from community consultations about the revised model for heritage management in 2017, it is expected that a draft Bill
will be exhibited for public comment in early 2018.
The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage will again hold community consultations at around 20 locations across the state and will
consider all community comments before the Bill goes before Parliament later in the year.