NSWALC background materials launched – Reforming Aboriginal culture and heritage laws in NSW

22 February, 2011

NSWALC background materials launched - Reforming Aboriginal culture and heritage laws in NSW

In February 2010, when amendments to the Aboriginal culture and heritage provisions in the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 were introduced into Parliament, the NSW Government announced it would establish a Working Party to consider options for establishing independent Aboriginal heritage legislation for NSW.


With "broad reform" of the state's Aboriginal culture and heritage regime again on the Government's agenda, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) has commissioned the following three research papers to stimulate discussion and debate:

1 . 'Our Sites, Our Rights - Returning control of Aboriginal sites to Aboriginal communities: A summary of key recommendations of past Aboriginal heritage reviews in NSW';

This report provides a succinct summary of the history of reforms to Aboriginal culture and heritage laws in NSW and outlines the key findings and recommendations of previous reform attempts, including the Keane Committee Reports in the early 1980's and the reports by the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Working Group in the mid-1990's.

2.  'Caring for Culture: Perspective on the effectiveness of Aboriginal Cultural heritage legislation in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia'; and

Original research was conducted and is used in this paper to examine some of the strengths and weaknesses in three other legislative regimes. Aboriginal people, government representatives, lawyers and heritage professionals in other states were interviewed to find out what some of the key issues are with the culture and heritage laws in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.

3.  'Commonwealth, State and Territory Heritage Regimes: summary of provisions for Aboriginal consultation'. 

This report, completed by the National Native Title Tribunal, provides an overview of the culture and heritage laws in other Australian states and territories, with a focus on provisions relating to consultation requirements.

With the opportunity to finally introduce significant reforms to the failing current legislative framework,  NSWALC hopes that these research papers will encourage discussion and debate so that comprehensive measures are finally put in place to allow Aboriginal people's across NSW to continue to practice culture and protect our heritage.


If you have any comments, feedback or questions about the reports, or would like more information about the broader reform process, please contact the NSWALC Policy and Research on 02 9689 4444 or  policy@alc.org.au.


Electronic copies of the above reports, and updates about the broader reform process can be accessed on the NSWALC Culture and Heritage web pages at www.alc.org.au.

Further background on the 2010 amendments, NSWALC submissions and Site Protection Fact Sheets, can also be accessed on the NSWALC website.

Date: 21 February 2011


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.