In September 2011, the NSW Government approved a process to develop options for the reform of Aboriginal heritage laws in New South Wales to improve the protection of Aboriginal culture and heritage in this state. The process first involved the release of two papers: an issues paper to promote discussion and a paper on reform milestones from 1969 to 2011. This was followed by a statewide public consultation – phase 1.
The consultation process involved 26 regional Aboriginal community workshops held throughout New South Wales at the end of 2011. Over 340 Aboriginal people attended these independently facilitated sessions, which provided opportunities for people to comment and respond to issues related to the reform of Aboriginal culture and heritage legislation in New South Wales. In addition, over 120 people attended a series of workshops for industry, government, and environment and heritage interest groups.
Interested parties were also able to make comment via a free phone line, email, written submissions, and a web-based survey. A total of 89 submissions were received.
Key responses from the phase 1 consultation included:
- the legislation did not adequately protect Aboriginal objects and sites and the need for change
- lack of time for the process and that it shouldn’t be rushed
- the need for Aboriginal control of decision-making around Aboriginal culture and heritage regulation and the establishment of an Aboriginal Heritage Commission
- clarifying who speaks for Country
- delays in establishing the reform working party
- the need for up-front regional assessments and mapping
- the need to address what is significant Aboriginal culture and heritage
- the need for respect and understanding to be built into processes.
Our Aboriginal cultural heritage legislation webpage provides more information about the reform process and the current proposed new system for managing and conserving Aboriginal cultural heritage in New South Wales.