Amendments to the Aboriginal Relics Act: DRAFT Aboriginal Relics Amendment Bill 2016

​​​​Following a public consultation in June-July 2016, and further direct consultation with the Aboriginal community and stakeholders since then, the Tasmanian Government has developed a draft Aboriginal Relics Amendment Bill 2016.

This draft Bill is now available for consideration, and for comment or suggestions, before the Bill is introduced to the Parliament in the Autumn Session (ie in March or April) of 2017.

What is proposed to be ​amended?

The priority is to address areas of immediate concern in the Aboriginal Relics Act 1975 and to undertake a full review of the amended legislation in three years.

The Government is proposing to address a number of inadequacies in the existing legislation, including by:

  • changing the name of the Act to the “Aboriginal Heritage Act”; 
  • removing reference to 1876 as being a “cut-off” point for what is considered as Aboriginal heritage; 
  • increasing penalties for damage to Aboriginal heritage to be in line with the penalties for damage to non-Aboriginal heritage;
  • introducing tiered offences, in association with the removal of the ignorance defence; introducing a new due diligence defence supported by due diligence guidelines; and removing the six-month time limit for prosecuting offences;
  • establishing a statutory Aboriginal Heritage Council of Aboriginal people to advise the Minister; and
  • setting a statutory three-year deadline for a further review of the Act. 

Relevant documents

To follow the detail of the draft Aboriginal Relics Amendment Bill 2016, it is necessary to refer to the existing Act. If you wish to do so, it is strongly recommended that you refer as well to the Fact sheet and Clause notes (also provided below). The Clause notes explain the meaning and effect of each proposed amendment. 

These notes were updated on 6 January 2017 to ensure that the way penalties apply to small businesses is specified in full with each mention of the penalties. This is for clarification only. It does not change the meaning. ​

   DRAFT Aboriginal Relics Amendment Bill 2016   (280Kb)​

  Aboriginal Relics Act 1975   (117Kb)

  DRAFT Aboriginal Relics Amendment Bill - Fact sheet - November 2016   (20Kb)

  DRAFT Aboriginal Relics Amendment Bill - Clause notes Jan 2017   (82Kb)​

What is the timeline?

The Government intends to introduce legislation into the Parliament in March or April 2017. In the meantime it will develop draft due diligence guidelines and consult on those with the Aboriginal Heritage Council, Aboriginal community organisations and other stakeholders. Parliament will then be able to consider draft guidelines together with the Bill.

If you wish to ask any questions, or to make a comment on the draft Bill, please do so before 24 February 2017, using the following mail or email contacts.


Amendments to the Aboriginal Relics Act
Policy Branch
Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment
GPO Box 44 Hobart TAS 7001