Country, Culture, People, Future

Law Reform

YMAC has been advocating for several years for legislative reform that will result in a more equitable position for Traditional Owners and a better balance of “give and get”, in agreements.

YMAC believes that consultation rights should be legislated.

Presently and historically, Aboriginal heritage is not treated the same as European built heritage. In this context, if an action can deliver an economic outcome, then development activity appears to override any other interests every time.

Additionally, Aboriginal cultural heritage must be considered throughout a project’s lifecycle – particularly as new information comes to light – both before and after agreements (including existing agreements) have been made.

Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill

On 2 September 2020, the WA Government released the long-awaited draft Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2020. This ‘Draft Bill’ is set to replace the outdated Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (AHA), which has long been criticised for its failure to recognise and support processes that appropriately protect Aboriginal heritage.

The proposed new legislation represents a once-in-a generation opportunity to make sure Aboriginal cultural heritage gets the recognition it deserves, and to find the right balance between heritage protection and economic outcomes for all parties.

The Draft Bill is more than 200 pages long. YMAC’s initial read-through indicates that, while there are improvements on the existing AHA, there remain many issues of concern to be fine-tuned in the proposed laws.

To find out more about the Draft Bill, click here.

Submissions for feedback on the draft Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2020 closed on 9 October 2020.

You can read YMAC’s submission here.

YMAC expressed concerns on the content of the Bill and timeline for consultation in its media release:  YMAC has concerns about the draft Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill.

Concerns about the consultation timeline on the Draft Bill

YMAC has long advocated that Aboriginal people should be afforded adequate time and the best opportunity to have their say, so that cultural heritage is not lost now or in the future. We are concerned there is just not enough time to effectively understand the content of the Draft Bill and what it means for Traditional Owners in our representative regions.

The Draft Bill was originally scheduled to be presented to Parliament by June 2020. Due to the travel restrictions and community closures brought about by COVID-19, YMAC is concerned about the lack of time afforded for proper consultation.

In March 2020, YMAC wrote to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs requesting a delay to the Draft Bill’s introduction to Parliament. While WA has been lucky in relation to being able to travel within the state and have meetings, YMAC still has concerns about the current consultation process and timeframes.

Further information:

Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage – AHA Review

YMAC has concerns about the draft Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill

YMAC welcomes release of draft Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill

Advocating for Aboriginal Heritage

YMAC Submission Juukan Gorge Inquiry

2011 Traditional Owners welcome Auditor General’s findings on heritage protection

2012 WA Government Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Reforms

Proposed Heritage Reforms     

2014 Traditional Owners lose out in proposed reforms to the WA Aboriginal Heritage Act

AHA changes exclude Traditional Owners

Traditional Owners say no to proposed AHA changes

Traditional Owners ignored

2015 Aboriginal Heritage under threat

Win for Aboriginal Heritage

Aboriginal community demand answers from State Government

2016 Aboriginal Heritage Act Amendment Bill is unjust

Marapikurrinya Yintha finally re-instated as an Aboriginal Site

Aboriginal Heritage Act Amendments should address Traditional Owner concerns

No confidence in the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs

YMAC’s previous submissions advocating for Aboriginal heritage law reform:

YMAC submission to the WA Department of Indigenous Affairs – Review of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (WA) – June 2012

YMAC CEO letter to Minister Collier – Lack of procedural fairness in WA Aboriginal Heritage Regime – August 2013

YMAC submission on the draft Aboriginal Heritage Amendment Bill 2014 – August 2014

YMAC submission to the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage on the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 review – May 2018

YMAC submission to Review of Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 Consultation Phase 2 March 2019

YMAC Letter to Minister for Aboriginal Affairs- the impact of COVID 19 on the delivery of the new Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act – March 2020