How has the Act been reviewed?
The Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment has managed the review process. The review considered the design and operation of the Act and involved:
- 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 summarised the feedback received through the public consultation
- Preparation of a Review Report outlining the issues identified with the Act
- Presentation by the Minister of a report to Parliament (the Tabling Report) on the outcome of the review, including the Government’s response.
The original timeline was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2021 State ele ction, but the Department sought to ensure that the final output was delivered as close as possible to the original deadline (February 2021).
- Public consultation – 1 July to 21 September 2019
- Release Consultation Feedback Report – December 2019
- Targeted consultation – final quarter of 2020
- Review Report delivered to the Minister – first quarter 2021
- Tabling Report on the outcome of review presented in Parliament – 1 July 2021
Review Report and Tabling Report
The Report of the Review of the Aboriginal Heritage Act was tabled in Parliament by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs on 1 July 2021, together with his Tabling Report.
Public consultation documents
Consultation Feedback Report -
Aboriginal Heritage Act 1975 was released as part of the Act's review. The report followed a 16-week public consultation period that ended on 21 September 2019.
The discussion paper below was provided to inform feedback for the public consultation process:
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 While the amendments were not large in number, they addressed some of the most outdated and problematic elements of the Act and were seen as a positive step forward.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, and the definitions were significantly updated;
The penalties for damage to Aboriginal heritage were sharply increased to be both in line with penalties related to non-Aboriginal heritage in Tasmania, and on par with the highest penalties in other States;
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.