$77 million investment to bolster new Aboriginal cultural heritage system
- Significant new $77 million funding commitment in protecting and managing Aboriginal cultural heritage includes support for new Local Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Services
- New laws provide for local Aboriginal organisations with authority to speak for Country
- Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021 empowers Aboriginal people to make decisions about their cultural heritage
The McGowan Government will provide a $77 million funding boost over the next four years to manage and protect Aboriginal cultural heritage in Western Australia.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Dr Tony Buti said the funding increase, included in the 2023-24 State Budget, would support implementation of a new system and ensure the sustainability of Local Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Services (LACHS).
Under the new Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021, LACHS will have a regulatory role to provide advice on Aboriginal cultural heritage, help negotiate and facilitate agreement-making on land-use proposals and take on significant administrative and operational responsibilities.
When established, LACHS will be funded up to $300,000 each year to ensure adequate levels of resourcing and capacity to meet the anticipated service level requirements from proponents, Traditional Owners, Aboriginal communities and individuals.
This significant new commitment will ensure there are sufficient funds reserved to support LACHS across the State as they become operational, as well as support an expansion of government resources in regional WA.
The funding will bolster existing State Government investment to protect Aboriginal cultural heritage, including management of protected areas, maintaining a database of culturally important places, the annual Preserving, Promoting and Protecting Aboriginal Sites grants program and supporting the repatriation of ancestral remains.
The new Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021 will come into effect from 1 July 2023 and the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage is currently progressing its implementation.
Aboriginal organisations, prescribed bodies corporate and parties interested in becoming a LACHS can find out more about eligibility at https://wa.gov.au/ach-act
Comments attributed to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Tony Buti:
"For the first time in more than 50 years, Western Australia will have a modern legislative framework for the protection and management of Aboriginal cultural heritage, and I am pleased to support our commitment to these new laws with a significant funding investment.
"Ensuring the sustainability of Local Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Services has been raised consistently throughout the co-design process, both from Aboriginal people and organisations and from industry.
"We need a system that is effective, responsive and able to meet the timeframes set out by the new Act to ensure business activities are not impeded, and that there are no risks to Aboriginal cultural heritage.
"Our funding commitment will be subject to annual review through normal budget processes to ensure we have sufficient reserves to respond to the number of LACHS, the level of industry activity and enquiries in the system.
"We expect the first LACHS to be designated by the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Council over the coming months and look forward to supporting these newly appointed organisations to build their capacity and prepare for the new system."
Minister's office- 6552 6400