It is well recognised that there is a strong link between Aboriginal culture and indicators of socioeconomic outcomes, in particular the positive impact culture has on Aboriginal peoples overall wellbeing.
Aboriginal people in NSW have inherent ownership of, and right to control and manage Aboriginal culture and heritage. In NSW, the main law which protects Aboriginal culture and heritage is the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, which generally provides that all Aboriginal objects are considered to be the property of the Crown.
This law is outdated and ineffective in protecting Aboriginal heritage and providing for Aboriginal people’s rights and interests. In October 2013 the NSW Government released a Government model for reform, but these reforms appear to have stalled.
Read our Heritage Fact Sheet here.
What needs to happen
The NSW Government must prioritise reform of the Aboriginal culture and heritage system in NSW.
The review must
- Focus on creating ways to better recognise, protect and promote Aboriginal culture and heritage, including in development processes
- Recognise the culture and heritage roles of Aboriginal groups and organisations in any reform proposals and models,
- Genuinely engage Aboriginal communities in decisions about Aboriginal culture and heritage
- Ensure that timeframes for the development of a model allows for proper consultation and meaningful input from Aboriginal peoples
- Ensure that there is consultation with Aboriginal peoples on a draft Bill prior to the introduction of the Bill into NSW Parliament.
- Any reforms must recognise the rights of Aboriginal peoples to ownership of their culture and heritage and to exercise free, prior and informed consent (as specified in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to which Australia is a signatory) in decision-making regarding Aboriginal culture and heritage.
Our campaign work
Read ANTaR NSW Submission to the Heritage Reform Inquiry here.