Update on Aboriginal Culture and Heritage Reform

11 September, 2017

Update on Aboriginal Culture and Heritage Reform

11 September 2017

The NSW Government has released draft proposals for new Aboriginal Culture and Heritage laws and will be undertaking public consultation over the next three months (details below).

NSWALC Chair Roy Ah-See said this historic reform process, while long-awaited, is crucial to the wellbeing of our communities and ensuring our Culture and Heritage is protected and promoted for future generations.

NSWALC encourages the Network and members of the Aboriginal community to engage in this important opportunity to improve Aboriginal Culture and Heritage laws in NSW.

NSWALC has long advocated for major reforms as the current laws:

  • Do not provide any decision making rights to Aboriginal peoples
  • Focus on regulating the destruction of our heritage rather than protection
  • Are outdated, inappropriate and include very limited definitions of what can be protected
  • Appear in the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NSW) (NPW Act) - all other States/Territories have standalone or updated Aboriginal Culture and Heritage legislation
  • Is a reactive system and doesn't consider Aboriginal heritage before planning decisions are made
  • Are not based on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

"NSWALC is committed to working with the Network to ensure that any new proposed legislation is supported by Aboriginal peoples, the Aboriginal Land Rights Network and meets NSWALC's Principles for Reform" Cr Ah-See said.

NSWALC will be hosting regional forums from October to December 2017 to seek your views on the Government's proposals and what you think should be in new laws.

Further advice regarding these forums will be distributed in the coming weeks.

NSWALC recognises that there are many views within the Network and Aboriginal communities on these issues.

NSWALC is committed to promoting respectful discussion and debate to inform NSWALC's position on new legislation.

Further information about the draft proposals is attached and further advice will be distributed over the coming weeks.

Overall, the proposals present a significant opportunity to improve on the current system. The proposals provided to date contain a number of potentially positive elements including:

  • Decision making for Aboriginal peoples at the local and State levels
  • Mechanisms to improve protections for Aboriginal heritage including intellectual property for Aboriginal peoples
  • Building on existing structures of the Aboriginal Land Rights Network, with resourcing and capacity building to be provided by Government
  • Establishment of a State-level, Aboriginal-controlled body to provide key roles government currently undertakes
  • Improved links and interactions with local government and planning laws and processes

Once a draft Bill is available, further analysis will be provided. It's important that the Network carefully consider the proposals and provide your views for what should be in the new laws. NSWALC welcomes your advice and feedback on the proposals to inform NSWALC's positions.

NSWALC did not support the 2013 Government model and made a number of recommendations including:

  • That Aboriginal peoples must have control and decision making roles
  • That new laws must provide proper protections for all Aboriginal Culture and Heritage, not just 'objects' and 'places'
  • That new laws should build on existing structures of Land Rights and Native title
  • LALCs Culture and Heritage functions must be recognised and LALCs should play key roles in a new model
  • New laws should establish a genuinely independent State-level Aboriginal-controlled body to play key support, strategic, oversight and compliance functions
  • New administrative and funding arrangements would need to reflect the increased functions of LALCs and a State-level body
  • Any revised Culture and Heritage reforms be appropriately funded by the Government
  • New laws must provide rights for Aboriginal peoples to refuse an activity or development in line with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • In recognition that there are differing views and approaches across the State, sufficient flexibility is needed for local Aboriginal people to determine the structure and composition of local decision-making groups, and
  • Genuine and meaningful consultations must be had with Aboriginal communities to develop proposals for new laws

To access updates and more information we encourage you to visit the 'More than Flora and Fauna' page of the NSWALC website at www.alc.org.au

The Government reform proposals can be accessed on the OEH website at http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/achreform/

Information about the current laws are available inNSWALC's Site Protection Fact Sheet series available at:fact-sheets

We look forward to working with your LALC and community to achieve a new system that protects our Culture and Heritage.

If you would like to discuss the proposed reforms, please contact the NSWALC Strategy and Policy Unit on 02 9689 4444 or email policy@alc.org.au .

Public consultation

OEH will be hosting a series of public information sessions, followed by a series of workshops in 19 locations. There will also be a general information webinar 24 October 2017 from 6pm to 7.30pm and a regulatory proposals webinar on 9 November 2017 from 11.30am to 1pm.

Further details about public consultation can be accessed on the OEH website:




Information session 9am-1pm

Workshop 9.30am-2.30pm



16 October

Delayed until early 2018


18 October

Delayed until early 2018


20 October

Delayed until early 2018


23 October

Delayed until early 2018


26 October

Delayed until early 2018


13 October

Delayed until early 2018


27 October

Delayed until early 2018


6 October

Delayed until early 2018


25 September

1 February

Rydges Mount Panorama Bathurst


4 October

6 February

Bega Valley Civic Centre


5 October

7 February

Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre


17 October

9 February

Penrith Panthers

Coffs Harbour

22 September

13 February

Coffs Harbour CEX

Port Macquarie

20 September

14 February

Port Macquarie Panthers Club


18 September

16 February

Newcastle Museum


9 October

20 February

Bourke Bowling Club


11 October

22 February

Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo


28 September

27 February

Wentworth Shire Town Hall

Broken Hill

8 November (10.30-2.30)

1 March

Musicians Club


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.