It may not be broke but it can still be fixed: Victoria’s Aboriginal Heritage Act

Wednesday, 17 June 2015
Rodney Carter

The paper commences by examining the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (Vic) (AHA) from a number of perspectives. Initially, the key concepts and processes of the Act such as: the roles of a Registered Aboriginal Party; the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council; Aboriginal Affairs Victoria; and, the processes of the development of a Cultural Heritage Management Plan are described and explained. Moving on from this introduction, the paper examines some of the legislative origins of the AHA with a particular focus on the relatively contemporary interaction between processes under the Native Title Act 1992 (Cth.) and those under the AHA. The paper then moves on to consider the outcomes of some of the recent reviews of the AHA (the (Victorian) Parliamentary Inquiry into the Effectiveness of Registered Aboriginal Parties and the Review of the AHA undertaken by Aboriginal Affairs Victoria and to assess the recommendations for change arising from these.

The paper concludes by suggesting that while the AHA may be one of the better pieces of Aboriginal cultural heritage legislation operating in Australia in key areas such as the resourcing of Registered Aboriginal Parties and the recognition of non-archaeological cultural heritage there is still significant scope for improvement.