Historic laws passed to protect WA’s Aboriginal cultural heritage

News story
Historic laws to better protect Western Australia's Aboriginal cultural heritage - the oldest continuous living culture in the world - have passed State Parliament.
echidna rock art

The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2021 (the Bill) provides a modern framework for the recognition, protection, conservation and preservation of Aboriginal cultural heritage while recognising the fundamental importance of Aboriginal cultural heritage to Aboriginal people. 

The Bill repeals the outdated Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 and removes the controversial Section 18 approvals process.

In line with Native Title laws, the Bill embraces the cultural authority of Traditional Owners who will define what is protected and negotiate agreements with land users to ensure significant cultural heritage is managed and protected.

The agreement-making approach enshrines the principles of free, prior and informed consent and will transform and reset the relationship between Aboriginal people, proponents and government with respect to cultural heritage management.

The State Government will convene a working group of Traditional Owners, industry and Government representatives to oversee the co-design process for the mechanisms that will enable the laws to be implemented, including the drafting of regulations, capacity development and detail around the consultation and agreement-making processes.

View full media statement

View the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2021 

Page reviewed 15 December 2021