The New South Wales Government has invited submissions, as part of its public consultation phase, upon proposed new Aboriginal Cultural Heritage legislation. This follows extensive State review and analysis over the past four years. The legislation aim is to provide a better framework to recognise and protect Aboriginal Cultural Heritage.

Currently in New South Wales, Aboriginal Cultural Heritage is preserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NSW). As a result of feedback from key stakeholders, in response to a draft reform model released by the Government in 2013, and broader public consultation, the State identified that the current framework fails to adequately recognise and include Aboriginal People in the decision making process and protection of their own cultural heritage in New South Wales.

The Government has announced that it will effect Aboriginal Cultural Heritage reform, through implementing a standalone Act, to enable and support the management and protection of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage in New South Wales. The Government anticipates releasing a draft Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill for public comment in the near future.

The Bill aims to bring New South Wales in-line with other States and Territories which already have separate standalone legislation which explicitly deals with Aboriginal Cultural Heritage.

The proposed new legislative framework, is intended to address the current deficiencies under the existing framework, and facilitate greater input and control by Aboriginal People in the cultural heritage process including, “genuine authority to make decisions about cultural heritage, broader consultation requirements and regulation, and most importantly, acknowledgement of custodianship and ownership of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage by Aboriginal People”.

The Office of Environment and Heritage has called for submissions and feedback on the proposed new legal framework, including the proposal paper and draft Bill which will be released during the consultation period.

A copy of the proposal paper and information about the proposed new Aboriginal Cultural Heritage framework is available at the link here.

The submission and feedback period for the new legal framework has already commenced and will continue until early March 2018.