Culture and heritage

Aboriginal cultural 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.

Public consultation has involved collecting information and consulting with people across New South Wales to establish what the reforms need to consider and to develop and refine new legislation.

Between 2011 and 2013, over 60 public sessions were held with members of the public to share their ideas with the Government. The feedback received 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 publicly consulted on a proposed new system for managing and conserving Aboriginal cultural heritage in NSW from September 2017 to April 2018. This new system is established by the draft Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2018.

You can visit the draft legislation consultation page to learn more about the proposed new system.

The timeline below sets out the public consultation phases and other steps in the ACH reform process to date. 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.
September 2017 – April 2018

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

  • 19 public information sessions
  • 20 public workshops
  • 2 webinars
Current status Feedback received from Phase 4 public consultation is currently being analysed and considered in the finalisation of the draft Bill.

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Page last updated: 22 April 2018