Aboriginal Culture and Heritage Reform Working Party

The independent Aboriginal Culture and Heritage Reform Working Party was established in 2011 to advise the NSW Government on options for protecting and managing Aboriginal culture and heritage in NSW.

Group photo of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Working Party (from left to right): Danny Gilbert (Chair), Robert Wilcher, Constance Chatfield, Brad Welsh, Brianna Casey, Stephen Ryan, Megan Mebberson, Jason Ardler, Norman Laing and Sandra Wallace.

The Aboriginal Culture and Heritage Reform Working Party's (the Working Party’s) role concluded with the delivery of its report and recommendations, Reforming the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage System in NSW: Draft recommendations to the NSW Government, to the NSW Government in 2012.

Members of the Working Party were appointed jointly by the then Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, on the basis of their individual skills, expertise and experience in managing and protecting Aboriginal culture and heritage.

Mr Danny Gilbert (Chair) – expert in community engagement with a broad understanding of the cultural and social issues affecting Aboriginal people of New South Wales

Mr Norman Laing – Office of Environment and Heritage, ex-officio member

Mr Jason Ardler – Aboriginal Affairs NSW, ex officio member

Ms Constance Chatfield – Local Government and Shires Association, expert in land management and the issues affecting Aboriginal cultural heritage

Mr Stephen Ryan – NSW Aboriginal Land Council, expert in land management and the issues affecting Aboriginal cultural heritage

Mr Brad Welsh – Rio Tinto, expert in land management and issues affecting Aboriginal cultural heritage

Ms Megan Mebberson (a member up to August 2012) – Office of the Registrar, Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983, expert in Aboriginal culture and heritage legal issues

Dr Sandra Wallace – Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists, expert in Aboriginal culture and heritage conservation

Ms Brianna Casey – NSW Farmers, experience in issues relating to Aboriginal culture and heritage in industry or business

Mr Robert Wilcher – Property Council of Australia (NSW), experience in issues relating to Aboriginal culture and heritage in industry or business.

The Working Party’s report to Government – Reforming the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage System in NSW: Draft recommendations to the NSW Government – included 23 recommendations on reforming ACH legislation that related to 6 key themes for reform:

  • stand-alone legislation
  • administrative structures
  • early planning process
  • local decisions by local people
  • streamlined processes
  • funding Aboriginal cultural heritage outcomes.

The Working Party’s report was informed by many in-depth discussions, its consideration of best-practice regulatory approaches from other jurisdictions, its review of public feedback from phases 1 and 2 of the consultation process and a literature review. The diversity of the Working Party members’ skills, experiences and knowledge provided balanced perspectives of ACH management.

The NSW Government’s response to the Working Party’s recommendations – Reforming the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage System in NSW: The Government's response to the ACH Reform Working Party's Recommendations – formed the basis of the phase 3 public consultation held in 2013 and 2014.