How is the Act being reviewed?
The Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment is managing the review process. The review will consider the design and operation of the Act and will involve:
- Extensive engagement with Tasmania's Aboriginal people, non-Aboriginal stakeholders and the broader Tasmanian community;
- Review of the approaches to, and operation of, Aboriginal heritage management legislation in other Australian jurisdictions;
- Preparation and publication of a Consultation Feedback Report which will summarise all feedback received through consultation; and
- Preparation of a Review Report detailing the outcome of the review, including making any recommendations which arise through the review process.
How else can I get involved?
We are genuinely seeking the input of all Tasmanians, and from Tasmania's Aboriginal people in particular, to understand and resolve issues with the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1975.
The process for reviewing the Act will involve multiple opportunities throughout 2019 and 2020 for Aboriginal communities and non-Aboriginal stakeholders to provide comment on the design and operation of the current Act.
An initial consultation period has now closed but a number of face-to-face meetings with Aboriginal groups and key non-Aboriginal stakeholders will also be held around Tasmania.
What changes were made to the Act in 2017?
The Act was updated in 2017 to address some of its key inadequacies. While the amendments were not large in number, they addressed some of the most outdated and problematic elements of the Act and were seen as a positive step forward.
Six key changes were made:
- The name to the
Aboriginal Relics Act 1975 was changed to the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1975;
- The racist 1876 cut-off date for what is considered Aboriginal heritage was removed;
- The penalties for damage to Aboriginal heritage were significantly increased to be in line with penalties for non-Aboriginal heritage;
- Scaled offences were introduced, including distinguishing between deliberate acts and 'reckless or negligent' acts. The ignorance defence was removed and the time available to commence prosecutions was increased from six-months to two years;
- A statutory Aboriginal Heritage Council was established to advise the Minister; and
- A statutory timeline was set for a full review of the Act.
The discussion paper below was provided to inform feedback for a public consultation. Submissions have now closed.