The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage reform process

A review of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 began in early 2018. The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021 concludes more than three years of consultation.

Review process

Phase One consultation - Completed

  • Consultation Paper released
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Feedback considered

Phase one consultation targeted key aspects of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 to help identify issues and gaps in the legislation, and promote ideas on what modernised legislation should look like and how it should operate in the interests of all stakeholders.

Feedback from the consultation was analysed and used to generate a Discussion Paper as part of Phase Two of the public consultation process.

Phase Two consultation - Completed

  • Discussion Paper released
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Feedback considered
  • Consultation draft Bill developed
  • Consultation drafted Bill considered by Cabinet

Phase two consultation sought comment on a Discussion Paper that outlined a series of proposals on what new Aboriginal cultural heritage legislation should do.

Feedback from this consultation informed the drafting of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2020.

Phase Three consultation - Completed

  • Consultation Bill released
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Feedback considered
  • Stakeholder engagement continues
  • Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2020 amended to reflect stakeholder feedback
  • Final draft Bill (Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2021) introduced into Parliament
  • Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2021 passed both Houses of Parliament
  • Royal Assent received and Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2021 becomes an Act of Parliament (Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021

The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2020 was released for public comment in September 2020. In response to stakeholder feedback a number of changes were made. The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2021 was introduced into Parliament on 17 November 2021 and passed State Parliament on 14 December 2021. 

The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2021 was assented to on 22 December 2021, effectively giving Western Australia new Aboriginal heritage legislation the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021.
 

Next steps

The Government is committed to continuing consultation with Aboriginal people, industry and other stakeholders. Future consultation and engagement will focus on the development of key regulations and statutory guidelines that will support the new legislation, including:

  • activity Categories and timeframes for the regulations
  • Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management Code
  • Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management Plan template
  • consultation guidelines.

These are critical for the effective implementation of this legislation and the Government is committed to a co-design process.  Under the new legislation the supporting documents are to be approved by the new Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Council (ACH Council). The goal of the co-design process is to work with Aboriginal people and other key stakeholders that have a particular interest in the new legislation to ensure its workability, and have the supporting documents ready for consideration by the ACH Council once it is appointed.  

To inform and guide this co-design and consultation process, a reference group will be established with representatives from Traditional Owners, State Government, and industry.  

Media Statements

Aboriginal heritage legislation to be reviewed - 9 March 2018
Aboriginal heritage legislation set for historic overhaul – 7 March 2019
Reforms to Aboriginal Heritage Act proceed with public support – 25 July 2019
Timeframe amended for new Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill due to COVID-19 – 9 April 2020
Final consultation on modern Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill begins – 2 September 2020
Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill funding confirmed in State Budget – 18 August 2021
New Bill to deliver better protection for Aboriginal cultural heritage – 17 November 2021
Historic laws passed to protect WA’s Aboriginal cultural heritage – 15 December 2021 

Fact sheets

Short Summary of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill
Detailed Overview of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill
Short Summary: Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2021 - Tiered Assessment Process
Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill: Changes following 2020 Bill Consultation

Comparisons

The Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 v. Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill
Section 18 process [1972 Act] v. Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill
Registration [1972 Act] v. Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill

User journeys

Local Government Authority wanting to rehabilitate a coastal dune
Prospector wanting to peg a tenement explore and extract material
Page reviewed 14 January 2022