Review of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1975

​​​​​​Is Tasmania's legislation for managing Aboriginal heritage working? 

Read the discussion paper below and let us know. 

If you need this document in a different format please contact the review team:

How to provide your feedback

Provide feedback as a written submission by 21 September 2019. 

Written submissions can be forwarded to:

Aboriginal Heritage Act Review
GPO Box 44
Hobart TAS 7001

Submissions will be treated as public information and will be published on this website following the closing of the consultation period, unless you request otherwise.

Further information on how your submission will be handled can be found in the Discussion Paper.

​Why are we asking for feedback?

The Aboriginal Relics Act 1975 was changed in August 2017 to the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1975. These changes addressed outdated and problematic elements of the Act. Importantly one of these changes was a requirement for a full review of the Act within three years.

The review has now been initiated and we have allowed lots of time for people to provide their input, and for all input to be fully considered.

A report detailing the outcome of the review will be tabled in each house of parliament by the end of the parliamentary year in 2020.

The Tasmanian Government recognises Tasmania's remarkable 40,000 plus years of Aboriginal heritage and culture and remains strongly committed to its ongoing management and protection.

​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.

The initial period for public comment will start on 1 June 2019 and remains open for 16 weeks through to 21 September 2019.
A number of face-to-face meetings with Aboriginal groups and key non-Aboriginal stakeholders will also be held around Tasmania.

If you would like to request a special information session for yourself or your organisation, please contact the DPIPWE Review Team at:

​​What c​hanges 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.​


Aboriginal Heritage Act Review Team
Phone: 03 6165 3201

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