- Progressive new Bill introduced to Parliament to replace outdated Aboriginal cultural heritage laws
- Primary focus on agreement making with Traditional Owners and principles of free, prior and informed consent
- Legislation built from three years of consultation with Traditional Owners and land users
- Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2021 now online at www.wa.gov.au
The McGowan Government is introducing a progressive new Bill that will replace outdated Aboriginal cultural heritage laws and deliver better protection for Aboriginal cultural heritage in Western Australia.
The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2021, which will be tabled in Parliament today, removes the controversial Section 18 approvals process which currently exists under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972.
In line with Native Title laws, the new Bill focuses on agreement making with Traditional Owners to ensure Aboriginal people can negotiate outcomes for projects and opportunities on their lands.
The Bill also embeds the principles of free, prior and informed consent in its agreement making processes.
This means there must be full disclosure of feasible alternative options for proposed projects to ensure traditional owners' consent is in fact fully informed. Consent must be given voluntarily and the process cannot involve any coercion, intimidation or manipulation.
Traditional Owners will also be able to apply to have a really important area made a protected area - the highest protection under the law. Both houses of Parliament will be required to approve the repeal of a protected area or any amendments to reduce the size of a protected area.
The Bill incorporates feedback from more than 100 workshops and information sessions attended by more than 1,400 people, 150 targeted and individual stakeholder meetings and more than 380 submissions.
Introducing the Bill into Parliament will not be the end of this important reform process, with ongoing consultation and engagement with Aboriginal people and other stakeholders to develop key documents that will support the Bill.
The State Government will convene a working group of traditional owners, industry and Government representatives to oversee the co-design process for the required regulations, key documentation and tiers of activity for the consultation and agreement making processes.
For more information on the Bill, visit https://www.wa.gov.au/aboriginal-cultural-heritage-bill-2021
Comments attributed to Premier Mark McGowan:
"This new Bill is the most progressive cultural heritage legislation in the country.
"It mandates agreement making with traditional owners, in line with Native Title laws, and allows Aboriginal people to negotiate better outcomes for projects on their lands.
"Western Australia is home to some of the world's most rich and diverse Aboriginal cultural heritage sites. This Bill finally puts Traditional Owners at the heart of decision making about the management and protection of these sites."
Comments attributed to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Stephen Dawson:
"Australia has one of the oldest living cultures in the world and protecting the heritage of Aboriginal people is integral to understanding our past, and building a stronger future for Western Australia.
"The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2021 has been three years in the making to reform 50-year-old legislation, align with Commonwealth Native Title laws and most importantly, give Aboriginal people the right to make decisions on matters impacting their cultural heritage.
"These laws build on the many successful examples of collaboration between Aboriginal people and industry and empower Traditional Owners to negotiate agreements that can deliver broad outcomes and benefits for their communities.
"This Bill is the result of extensive consultation which will continue throughout implementation, starting with a co-design approach to the supporting documents that will help enact these new laws."
Premier's office - 6552 5000
Aboriginal Affairs Minister's office - 6552 5800