Indigenous Heritage Law Reforms

21 September, 2009


The Federal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 (ATSIHP Act) gives the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, currently the Hon Peter Garrett, the power to make declarations for the protection of Aboriginal objects and areas.

The Federal Government has announced its plans to review this law. The Federal Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) have released a Discussion Paper outlining plans to change the Federal law relating to the protection of Aboriginal culture and heritage.

The proposed changes to the Federal ATSIHP Act are separate to the changes proposed to the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 by the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW).

FACT SHEETS AVAILABLE: NSWALC has produced 2 new Fact Sheets for LALCs which explain the current Federal law and the proposed changes (attached). These Fact Sheets are apart of a series of NSWALC Culture and Heritage Fact Sheets developed recently.

Extra copies can be downloaded from the NSWALC website at, or by contacting the NSWALC Resource Centre on Tel: 02 9689 4444.

DEWHA INFORMATION SESSIONS: Information sessions for the community are currently being held by DEWHA about the proposed changes to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984.

 The upcoming sessions are

  • 21 September,12pm to 1:30pm, Coffs Harbour Indigenous Coordination Centre (ICC) 17 Duke Street, Coffs Harbour
  • 22 Sept, 12pm to 1:30pm, Frog and Toad Function Centre, 238 Goonoo Goonoo Road, Tamworth
  • 23 September, 12pm to 1:30pm, Dubbo ICC Level 1, 65 Church Street, Dubbo
  • 24 September, 12pm to 1:30pm, Bourke Bowling Club corner of Mitchell and Richard Streets, Bourke
  • 24 September, 12pm to 1:30pm & 3:30pm to 5:00pm, Queanbeyan ICC, 1 Monaro Street, Queanbeyan
  • 25 September, 12pm to 1:30pm & 3:30pm to 5:00pm, Vibe Hotel Galaxy Room, 111 Goulburn Street Sydney
  • 29 Septmeber, 12pm to 1:30pm, Wagga Wagga ICC Level 1, 2 O'Reilly Street, Wagga Wagga

 NSWALC strongly encourages its members to participate in the information sessions and tell DEWHA what they think of the proposed changes. For more information and to download a copy of the discussion paper visit the DEWHA website at

NSWALC is currently developing its response to DEWHA, and welcomes feedback from the LALC network to be included in its submission. Submissions to DEWHA are due on 6 November 2009.

LALCs wishing to discuss any issues raised by the Fact Sheet or wanting to provide input to NSWALC's submission to DEWHA should contact their respective Zone Office or NSWALC's Land, Policy and Research Unit on (02) 9689 4444.

[1] DEWHA has advised that some times and locations of Information Sessions may change. Please check the above website or call DEWHA 1800 003 164 to ensure you have the correct location and time.


We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners of the lands where we work as well as across the lands we travel through. We also acknowledge our Elders past, present and emerging.

Artwork Credit: Craig Cromelin, from a painting he did titled, "4 favourite fishing holes". It is a snippet of his growing years on the Lachlan River, featuring yabby, turtle, fish and family.