Country, Culture, People, Future

2021 WA Election

AHA reform must remain a high priority for State and Federal governments

The West Australian Election is an opportunity to keep the reform process firmly in the spotlight. Establishing a new Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act for Western Australia and amending the existing Mining Act (1978) are critical to achieving the wide-ranging reform needed to improve the laws and procedures surrounding the preservation and recognition of Aboriginal cultural heritage. 

YMAC has been advocating for several years for legislative reform and will continue to keep the pressure on Government.

As part of its opening statement to the Juukan Gorge Inquiry, YMAC tabled a Roadmap to Reform that addresses the current power imbalance and inequity in agreement making and heritage protection for Traditional Owners.

Regardless of the outcome of WA’s Election, YMAC will continue to keep the pressure on

Government to:

  1. Introduce comprehensive Federal and State laws that, embody heritage protection across a range of legislations and ensure successful implementation of agreed reform. These include the Native Title Act (1993), the Mining Act (1978), Local Government Act (1995).
  2. Legislate consultation rights and the need for Aboriginal heritage to be considered early in a development process and continue to be considered as new information comes to light, both before and after agreements have been made.
  3. Mandate cultural heritage plans including ethnographic and archaeological surveys with the involvement of Traditional Owners, legislate a clear regulatory framework surrounding agreement-making, heritage decisions and project approvals.
  4. Ensure Traditional Owners have a greater voice in the management and mining of their land during negotiations and throughout the entire lifecycle of a project, including the right of veto.
  5. Introduce an independent appeal mechanism for all parties and a more equitable and significantly more rigorous Section 18 equivalent in the proposed Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act.
  6. Provide appropriate funding and training to ensure Prescribed Bodies Corporate (PBCs) are properly resourced to undertake the necessary work to participate in the new heritage regime in Western Australia.
  7. And finally, promote the global significance of Aboriginal heritage as an original and irreplaceable part of Australia’s collective cultural heritage and create a clear distinction between heritage protection and the mining approval process.

WA’s Election is an opportunity for your voice to be heard

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.

WA’s Election is an opportunity for your voice to be heard by casting your vote in support of the policies that best support the cultural protections reform process. 

YMAC will continue to hold each party to account after the Election

While it’s important to be informed when you cast your vote, it’s what happens after the election that really matters.

Regardless of outcome, YMAC will continue to hold each party to account to ensure that the many issues raised in response to the draft bill are addressed, and the revisions to the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2020 (WA) better reflect community expectations. This includes ensuring Traditional Owners have adequate time and the best opportunity to have their say, and removing the opportunity for short-circuiting the process when it suits miners or Government, so that cultural heritage is not lost now or in the future.

Stay informed about who is best set up to protect your heritage

Stay informed about where the major parties stand on cultural protections and AHA reform and who is best set up to protect your heritage: