Culture and heritage

Aboriginal heritage

The reform process

Reforming any legislation is complex and requires a multi-staged approach. Key aims throughout the NSW Aboriginal cultural heritage (ACH) reforms have been to ensure that new legislation both supports Aboriginal people to protect and manage their heritage and improves the responsiveness of the regulatory system.

Previous steps

Three of four public consultation phases have been completed so far. Public consultation has involved collecting information and consulting with people across NSW to establish what the reforms need to consider. Over 60 public sessions have been held for members of the public to share their ideas with the Government. The feedback from all phases of public consultation demonstrates there is a clear consensus to change the current laws, but how this should be done is widely debated.

Based on public feedback received and the recommendations of the Aboriginal Culture and Heritage Reform Working Party, the government developed a proposal for new ACH legislation. The proposed reform model was the basis of the third and most recent phase of consultation.

The timeline below sets out the public consultation phases and other steps in the ACH reform process to date.

Next steps

The Government is currently revising the reform model it released in 2013 based on feedback received during the third phase of public consultation. The revised model will inform the drafting of an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill, which will be released in a fourth phase of public consultation in the first half of 2017.  Feedback will be used to refine the bill before it is introduced to Parliament. Further information on the process for creating legislation is available on the NSW Parliament website.

To stay up to date on the next stages of the reforms send your contact details to the ACH reforms team at:

Reform timeline

July 2010

Parliament amended the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act) to improve provisions for Aboriginal cultural heritage offences, penalties, due diligence, Aboriginal heritage impact permits and consultation.

Bipartisan support for amendments on proviso that broader reforms would be undertaken.

October 2010 Amendments to the NPW Act commenced.

Government announced broader legislative review.

Phase 1 public consultation – issues paper released for public feedback and the following workshops held:

  • 26 regional Aboriginal community workshops
  • 5 workshops for mixed interest groups.
April 2012 Independent Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Reform Working Party established.
June–July 2012

Phase 2 public consultation – phase 1 results and inter-jurisdictional analysis presented for feedback.

  • 11 regional workshops (for all stakeholders) held.
November 2012 Independent Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Reform Working Party delivers recommendations for reform to the Government.
September 2013–March 2014

Phase 3 public consultation - Working Party recommendations and the Government’s proposed model for new legislation released for public feedback. This involved:

  • 19 public workshops
  • 1 peak body meeting on the model for reforming the legislation
  • 67 questionnaires completed
  • 147 written submissions.
March 2015 Public submissions released on OEH website.
Current status Government is considering the wide ranging feedback received and best practice in other jurisdictions to revise the 2013 model and prepare draft legislation for further consultation.

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Page last updated: 21 February 2017