Aboriginal Heritage status quo ‘insulting’

Friday, March 18

WA Greens Aboriginal Affairs spokesperson Robin Chapple MLC said proposed amendments to the Aboriginal Heritage Act would not fix the 15,800 site backlog, contrary to claims yesterday by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs.

“What these amendments will do in practice is make it very difficult for traditional owners to submit sites to the Department of Aboriginal Affairs for assessment; this is not a solution,” Mr Chapple said.

“Legislating against the addition of heritage sites to the state register can, under no definition, be considered protection ofAboriginal heritage and to suggest otherwise is absurd.

“Just as giving all decision-making power to the CEO in the interest of speeding up assessment of that backlog of sites will similarly, in practice, result in severely diminished protection for Aboriginal heritage.

“There is simply no way the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee in its current form – they meet once a month, for 11 months of the year – will ever get through the assessment of the more than 15,800 sites in the register, on top of their other duties.

“The status quo is really an insult to traditional owners, many of whom have been waiting years to hear from the Department, and to Aboriginal heritage in Western Australia.”

For comment please contact Media Liaison Tim Oliver on 0431 9696 25 or 9486 8255.

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