Support for New Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill

16 June 2022

Support for New Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill in NSW

The NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) understands the Hon. Reverend Fred Nile intends to introduce the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage (Culture is Identity) Bill 2022 (the Bill) into NSW Parliament next week.

The Bill is designed to better protect and support Aboriginal Cultural Heritage (ACH) in NSW and provides a meaningful starting point to reform ACH protection for future generations of Australians.

NSWALC understands the Hon. Reverend Nile’s Bill incorporates NSWALC’s long-standing key reform principles, and on this basis NSWALC is providing our in-principle support.

NSWALC understands the Bill will:

  • Ensure ACH is in the hands of Aboriginal people. Aboriginal people will make decisions about ACH, not government
  • Be independent of government
  • Have minimal Ministerial roles/functions
  • Be respectful of cultural and native title rights
  • Be inclusive of native title groups, Aboriginal Owners and Land Rights
  • Improve regulatory mechanisms
  • Increase penalties for anyone who harms or destroys ACH
  • Improve objectives and definitions of ACH

NSWALC, the Land Rights Network and Aboriginal communities have advocated strongly for decades for new ACH laws.

NSW remains the only state which has not recently updated heritage legislation and continues to manage Aboriginal Culture and Heritage through flora and fauna legislation – the National Parks and Wildlife Act.

The Bill presents a substantial improvement on current laws, and an opportunity for long over-due and meaningful changes. Like the ALRA, the Bill will be reviewed every five years, and can be strengthened over time.

NSWALC is urging all political parties to support the Bill.

NSWALC continues to advocate for new ACH to be urgently supported by the NSW Parliament, and that the NSW Government fully resource reforms, in line with its commitments under Closing the Gap.

NSWALC will continue working to ensure that NSWALC’s longstanding reform principles are upheld. Once the Bill is introduced into Parliament, NSWALC will provide further advice to the Network.

In the meantime, if you would like to know more, or to discuss the Bill, please contact your Councillor and/or NSWALC Strategy and Policy Unit on 02 9689 4444 or email policy@alc.org.au.