Aboriginal Act Passed

31 May, 2007

Aboriginal Heritage is to be managed and protected by Aboriginal communities under new laws recently passed in Victoria’s State Parliament.

The Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (Vic) came into force on 28 May, providing more effective protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage.

'For the first time in Victoria's history,' Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Gavin Jennings said, 'a council of eminent Aboriginal traditional owners will now preside over decision-making about their heritage.'

Under the Act, the Aboriginal Heritage Council will select the most appropriate Aboriginal groups to speak for their country.

Other provisions include establishing Aboriginal ownership of remains and some secret sacred objects; providing clearer guidelines about when cultural heritage management plans are required for high-impact activities in designated sensitive areas; and allowing dispute resolution in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The new arrangement replaces a formerly confusing system with a new, streamlined process.

'The old legislation simply said that Aboriginal heritage was to be protected, and gave no indication as to when or how this was to be done,' Mr Jennings said. 'The new legislation introduces clear systems and procedures for people to follow.'

Comments (2)

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raghav 19 February, 2012 17:07
why do you think changes were necessary?
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Discovery Centre 23 March, 2012 11:08
Hi Raghav,
The Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 was created to provide a central role for Aboriginal people to protect their cultural heritage, and end confusion about who speaks for cultural heritage on behalf of the Aboriginal community. The background to the creation of the Act is summarised as follows: "Prior to the commencement of the Act, cultural heritage was primarily managed by local Aboriginal community organisations named by the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act. These community organisations were established for purposes other than cultural heritage, for activities such as community health and housing. In 1993, the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993 was passed empowering traditional owners to add their voices to cultural heritage issues in Victoria. However, native title and cultural heritage responsibilities were not aligned. This meant different Aboriginal organisations were exercising similar responsibilities for cultural heritage and native title over the same land. Aboriginal people in Victoria, particularly traditional owners, felt the previous legislation did not give them appropriate recognition as the people who manage and care for their cultural heritage." (see www.dpcd.vic.gov.au, Discussion Paper: Review of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006)

The Act is currently under review by the Victorian Government, to assess its efficacy and efficiency. Museum Victoria has contributed to the Review by making a submission. The Review is to be concluded by May 2012, and will provide advice to the parliamentary inquiry into the establishment and effectiveness of Registered Aboriginal Parties (established as key institutions in the Act).

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