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
  • 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.

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 New South Wales from September 2017 to April 2018.

Feedback was received from nearly 700 people attending workshops, and from over 100 written submissions, verbal submissions and responses through the Have Your Say online portal.

The feedback showed much support for the reforms and raised a number of issues. In addition, there were important parts of the draft Bill that had not been finalised during consultation. The NSW Government wants the legislation to be robust to ensure Aboriginal cultural heritage is protected now and into the future.

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 Office of Environment and Heritage (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
Nearly 700 people attended the workshops and over 100 written submissions were made, as well as verbal submissions and responses through the Government's Have Your Say online portal.
April – September 2018 Feedback received from Phase 4 public consultation was analysed and considered in the further development of the draft Bill.
Current status A Summary of Submissions Report was prepared which will be published on the OEH website. Subject to the author's permission, over 70 submissions will also be published. OEH and Aboriginal Affairs will carry out additional targeted consultations to refine the draft Bill. The NSW Government will consider the draft Bill following those consultations.

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Page last updated: 29 October 2018