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 respects and conserves Aboriginal cultural heritage in New South Wales for current and future generations, and provides clear and consistent processes for economic and social development.

Previous steps

Three of four public consultation phases have been completed so far. Public consultation has involved collecting information and consulting with people across New South Wales 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 the recommendations of the Aboriginal Culture and Heritage Reform Working Party and public feedback received on the 2013 reform model, the government has developed a proposed new system for managing and conserving Aboriginal cultural heritage in NSW. This new system will be established by draft legislation which will be released shortly.

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 seeking feedback on a proposed new system for managing and conserving Aboriginal cultural heritage in NSW. The proposed new system will be established by draft legislation – a draft Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill - which will be released shortly.

You can visit the draft legislation consultation page to learn more about the proposed new system, register to attend an information session,workshop and webinar, and to find out how to provide feedback. 

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.
2014 - 2017 Government considered the wide-ranging feedback received and best practice in other jurisdictions to revise the 2013 model and prepare draft legislation for further consultation.
Current status

Phase 4 public consultation – legal framework including new draft legislation released for public feedback. This involves:

  • 19 public information sessions
  • 19 public workshops
  • 2 webinars

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Page last updated: 13 September 2017