Update on Aboriginal Culture and Heritage Reform

22 December, 2016

22 December 2016

Update on Aboriginal Culture and Heritage Reform

  The NSW Government has announced that it is committed to establishing new Aboriginal culture and heritage legislation.

The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and Aboriginal Affairs NSW (AANSW) are currently revising the model for new Aboriginal Culture and Heritage laws in response to public feedback received on the Government's 2013 model.

The NSW Government have advised that it intends to release draft legislation for a three-month public consultation period in the first half of 2017, and has indicated that it intends to introduce new legislation into Parliament in late 2017.

NSWALC has continued to advocate for Aboriginal people's rights and interests to be foundation for workable new laws that are based on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and deliver workable new laws to all parties.

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 Aboriginal Culture and Heritage
  • That new laws should build on existing structures of Land Rights and Native title
  • LALC Culture and Heritage functions must be recognised and LALCs should play key roles in a new model
  •  New laws should establish a State level Aboriginal-controlled organisation to play key support, strategic and oversight 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
  • Genuine and meaningful consultations must be had with Aboriginal communities to develop proposals for new laws


NSWALC will keep the Network informed about the next stages of the reform process to assist the Network and Aboriginal communities to actively engage in this important law reform process.

NSWALC encourages all LALCs and members of the Aboriginal community to engage in this important opportunity to improve Aboriginal culture and heritage laws in NSW.

NSWALC's policy positions, submissions, research papers, consultation reports and fact sheets are available on the NSWALC website: https://alc.org.au/culture-and-heritage/more-than-flora--fauna.aspx

A joint media release from the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Minister for Environment and Heritage is available at: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/news/new-aboriginal-cultural-heritage-laws-a-step-closer

Further information about the reform process can be accessed on the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) website at: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/achreform/index.htm

If you would like to discuss the proposed reforms, please contact the NSWALC Policy and Programs Unit on 02 9689 4444 or email 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.