Hon Dr Tony Buti BPE DipEd MIR LLB DPhil MLA

Hon Dr Tony Buti BPE DipEd MIR LLB DPhil MLA

Minister for Finance; Racing and Gaming; Aboriginal Affairs; Citizenship and Multicultural Interests

    Inaugural Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Council appointed

    21/09/2022 12:55 PM
    • Seven members appointed to the State's new Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Council
    • Council to be co-chaired by male and female Aboriginal members
    • Members bring experience in Aboriginal cultural heritage, environment, law and industry

    The inaugural seven members of Western Australia's new Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Council have been appointed.


    As the State's peak strategic body on Aboriginal cultural heritage matters, the Council will provide advice to the Aboriginal Affairs Minister, designate local Aboriginal cultural heritage services and approve permits and management plans.


    The Council also has a role in promoting public awareness and appreciation of Aboriginal cultural heritage and the role of Aboriginal people in how their cultural heritage is managed and protected.


    The new Council members are:

    • Co-chairperson Dr Mark Bin Bakar - an Aboriginal culture and heritage advocate, experienced Board Director and accomplished singer songwriter known for his success in the arts and media industries.
    • Co-Chairperson Ms Irene Stainton - an Aboriginal cultural heritage practitioner with industry, government and consultancy experience and a current trustee for the WA Museum Boola Bardip.
    • Ms Merle Carter - Chairperson of the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre, experienced Board member and Aboriginal corporation director.
    • Mr Graham Castledine - a barrister, negotiator and mediator with significant experience in Aboriginal heritage, Native Title, environment and planning matters.
    • Dr Debbie Fletcher - a former senior public servant with experience in Native Title matters, State agreements and land access.
    • Ms Belinda Moharich - a lawyer with expertise in planning and environment law.
    • Mr Kevin Walley - a qualified conservation land manager, with Aboriginal cultural heritage expertise and experience leading Aboriginal corporations.

    The seven members were selected from more than 70 nominations and have been appointed for an initial term of two years.


    Formed under the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021, the Council provides a modern framework for the recognition, protection, conservation and preservation of Aboriginal cultural heritage and recognises the fundamental importance of Aboriginal cultural heritage to Aboriginal people.


    An extensive co-design process is currently underway to prepare for implementation of the new Act from mid-2023. For more information, visit https://wa.gov.au/ach-act.


    Comments attributed to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Tony Buti:


    "The new Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021 represents a significant shift in how Aboriginal cultural heritage is managed. It is a vastly improved legislative framework to ensure Aboriginal people are consulted without coercion, to prioritise agreement making and to increase penalties for non-compliance."


    "The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Council will be central to this work, and I am very pleased with the quality and experience of the inaugural members appointed."


    "As the legislation requires, the Council comprises two Aboriginal co-chairs - male and female - and the membership is majority Aboriginal, with the required skills and knowledge to perform the important functions of the Council."


    "These functions will include providing advice to Government, setting standards to identify, protect and manage Aboriginal cultural heritage, and facilitating negotiations between proponents and Aboriginal parties when agreement cannot be reached."


    "The Council's first task will be to review the key documents and Regulations being developed ahead of the third and final phase of co-design, which is expected to commence in October."


    "I am looking forward to working alongside the Council over the next two years as Western Australia's new Aboriginal cultural heritage laws become fully operational."


    Minister's office - 6552 6400