Aboriginal cultural heritage and native title: Recent developments in a complex relationship

Wednesday, 6 June 2018
Nick Testro
Mr Scott Singleton

Many State/Territory-based cultural heritage regimes around the country rely on the Commonwealth native title framework to determine the identity of the people who hold cultural heritage rights under the State/Territory regime. The native title framework is also fundamentally dependent on cultural heritage for the purpose of native title claims, compensation claims, and future acts (including the right to negotiate). However, there is evidence of emerging tensions between the two frameworks.

In this presentation, we propose to discuss and analyse recent significant developments in the relationship between Aboriginal cultural heritage and native title legal frameworks, including the following:

(a) The central nature of Aboriginal cultural heritage and sacred sites in the methodology established by the Federal Court in valuing native title in the Timber Creek compensation decision.
(b) Greater reliance on Native Title Act 1993 concepts in the proposed NSW reforms (to more closely align with other State regimes, including those in Queensland, Victoria and SA).
(c) The potential breakdown of the alignment of the native title and Aboriginal heritage systems reflected in the number of challenges brought on behalf of proponents and traditional owners in Queensland.