Hon Ben Wyatt LLB MSc MLA

Hon Ben Wyatt LLB MSc MLA

Former Treasurer; Minister for Finance; Aboriginal Affairs; Lands

    Path forward for historic reform of WA Aboriginal heritage laws

    18/11/2020 2:45 PM
    • McGowan Government makes significant progress in reforming outdated Aboriginal heritage laws
    • Draft Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill will receive improvements following the latest consultation with Aboriginal groups and stakeholders
    • Parliamentary Counsel working to incorporate these improvements and have an updated version of the Bill available for the 41st Parliament
    • The legislation will place Aboriginal people at the heart of decision-making about their heritage and focuses on achieving agreement between land users and traditional owners 

    The McGowan Government has set the path forward for the historic reform of Western Australia's outdated Aboriginal heritage laws. 


    The draft Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill is the culmination of more than three years of extensive community discussion and consultation.


    The draft legislation was shaped through more than 100 workshops and information sessions attended by more than 1,400 people, 150 targeted and individual stakeholder meetings and in excess of 380 submissions.


    The Bill represents fundamental legislative reform in relation to the recognition, protection and management of Aboriginal cultural heritage in this State and is, in effect, co-designed law-making by Aboriginal people, land users and the broader community.


    The Bill captures and celebrates the diverse elements and perspectives of Aboriginal cultural heritage and recognises that it is both a traditional and living culture that remains fundamental to the lives of Aboriginal people.


    It also aligns with native title, which is critical in determining the custodians of cultural heritage.


    Importantly, it places Aboriginal people at the heart of decision-making about their heritage and focuses on achieving agreement between land users and traditional owners.


    Following the latest round of consultation, which concluded last month, work is now underway by the Parliamentary Counsel to incorporate improvements to the Bill before it can be put before the 41st Parliament.


    Comments attributed to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt:


    "There has been widespread recognition for almost three decades that the 1972 Aboriginal Heritage Act is not in keeping with modern values.


    "The first attempt at reform was undertaken by the Lawrence Government in 1992, but failed due to a lack of consensus. The same fate has befallen many similar attempts by subsequent governments.


    "On this occasion, I am confident that we have a path forward to introduce historic reform that reflect modern values.


    "I have been enormously pleased with the constructive approach taken by Aboriginal people and the resources industry through all consultation phases.


    "I am confident that the effort undertaken to reach broad consensus on these reforms will allow the best possible chance for a Bill to be supported by the 41st Parliament.


    "While I will not be a member of that Parliament, I will continue to follow with interest this important reform."


    Minister's office - 6552 5900