Aboriginal Victorians’ voices on cultural heritage protections will be strengthened, under changes proposed by the Andrews Labor Government.
Building on the work by former Victorian governments, including the Bracks Labor Government’s Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006, the Aboriginal Heritage Amendment Bill 2015 will ensure Aboriginal people have a greater say on cultural heritage, while reducing red tape for applicants.
The Bill will improve protections for Aboriginal heritage, create an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Fund, introduce a comprehensive Aboriginal Ancestral Remains process and establish Aboriginal Heritage Officers.
After extensive community consultation, the changes will also enable the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council (VAHC) to call upon its own advisory committees as required, and provide the Council greater flexibility in the Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAP) appointment process.
The Bill will also ensure greater certainty for Victoria’s land use and development industries, establishing a clear Traditional Owner consultation processes in non-RAP areas , introducing evaluation timeframes for cultural heritage permit applications and resulting in the removal of an estimated $30 million annually in red tape across industry and government.
The reforms reflect the Labor Government’s commitment to working alongside Aboriginal Victorians in protecting Victoria’s unique Aboriginal cultural heritage, including investing $20.9 million under the 2015-16 Victorian Budget.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Natalie Hutchins
“These changes reflect the Andrews Labor Government’s commitment to seeing Aboriginal at the centre of decision making.”
“When it comes to protecting and preserving Aboriginal cultural heritage, it’s only right that we are listening to Aboriginal voices.”
“We have listened to the Aboriginal Victorian community and users of the system and are now getting on with delivering changes that will be of cultural and economic benefits for all Victorians.”