NSWALC submission on the Draft Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2018 (Draft Bill) and related proposals

23 April, 2018

April 23 2018

NSWALC submission on the Draft Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2018 (Draft Bill) and related proposals 

NSWALC has provided a  submission to the NSW Government in response to the Draft Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2018(Draft Bill) and related proposals.     

NSWALC's submission gives detailed recommendations for improving the reform proposals and seeks a commitment that the NSW Government prioritise the reform process. 

NSWALC seeks to ensure that the reforms: 

  • Meet the needs of Aboriginal communities,
  • Enshrine the principle of self-determination, 
  • Include legislated roles for Aboriginal Land Councils, 
  • Meet NSWALC's Principles for Reform, and 
  • Reflect best practice standards and the principles outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples  (UNDRIP).

NSWALC's submission supports:

  • Decision making, administration, compliance and enforcement by Aboriginal people;
  • Clearer steps for Aboriginal people and proponents/developers and generally requiring consideration of Aboriginal heritage before planning decisions are made;
  • Broadening the definition of Aboriginal cultural heritage and new objects that recognise Aboriginal heritage belongs to Aboriginal people;
  • Building on existing structures including the Aboriginal Land Rights Network;
  • Information and mapping systems to be managed and owned by Aboriginal people,   including a restricted access database for Aboriginal people only;
  • Opportunities to provide incentives to land holders to protect ACH;
  • New investigative powers and enforcement and compliance provisions as key tools to protect our unique and irreplaceable heritage, and will be important deterrents.

However,  NSWALC is seeking further amendments including:

  • Limiting the decision-making roles of the Minister. The intent of the reforms is to provide 
  • decision making to Aboriginal people about our heritage. The Minister can oversee 
  • without making key decisions;
  • Requiring all development and land use activities, including planning proposals, to follow 
  • the new ACH processes;
  • Extending the harm offence to all ACH including undeclared Aboriginal cultural heritage;
  • Removing extra elements to the harm offence which currently favour proponents; 
  • Limiting defences available to proponents for the harm offence;
  • Adding safeguards in mapping, assessment pathway and Aboriginal cultural heritage 
  • Management plan processes;
  • Increasing penalties for harming ACH.

NSWALC looks forward to working with Government to progress these important reforms. 

More information

Please contact the NSWALC Strategy and Policy Unit on 02 9689 4444 or  policy@alc.org.au


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.