Strengthened Aboriginal Control Over Heritage in Victoria

Amendments to Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 create new protections and processes

Important amendments to the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006, passed through the Victorian parliament in March 2016, herald a new era of control for Traditional Owners over Aboriginal cultural heritage.

New structures and powers are due to come into place including making Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs) the decision makers on cultural heritage permits.

For the first time in Australia, the legislation will also provide for the protection of intangible Aboriginal cultural heritage, such as stories, song and language.

Traditional Owners employed by RAPs will have enforcement powers under the Act through a new Aboriginal Heritage Role.

A new Preliminary Aboriginal Heritage Test or PAHT will also be implemented to remove doubt regarding when a cultural heritage management plan is required prior to development. This is likely to affect timelines on projects. There will be new penalties introduced and new fees eg. for PAHTs.

The Regulations are still being written but it is expected that the amended Act will be enacted late this year.

Ecology and Heritage Partners Director, Oona Nicolson, is happy to answer any questions you may have about what the changes mean for your projects.

For more information, please call 1300 839 325.

Relevant link:

Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs media release

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