Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972

Aboriginal heritage management clearly not a priority

Thursday, 12 May 2016

More than $1.3 million has been spent over the last two years upgrading online Aboriginal heritage lodgements yet Traditional owners are reporting the system is harder to use than ever, according to WA Greens MLC Robin Chapple.

“It is abundantly clear that the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, in the interest of bureaucratic efficiency, has no interest in genuinely improving the Aboriginal heritage system,” Mr Chapple said.

“Spending this money to upgrade the lodgement system has achieved absolutely nothing because there is still a massive backlog of heritage sites waiting to be assessed – almost 16,000.

“What is the point in using this system if the site you wish to have protected will sit in an electronic waiting list for eternity, never to be assessed by the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee (ACMC)?

“If the Minister were serious about improving Aboriginal heritage then he would use his powers under the act to direct the ACMC to meet specifically to deal with the backlog of sites and provide assurance to Aboriginal Traditional Owners that their heritage is valued by the state.”

For comment please contact Tim Oliver on 0431 9696 25 or 08 9486 8255.

One mistake too many for Aboriginal Affairs Minister

30 March, 2016

The WA Greens say Aboriginal Affairs Minister Peter Collier should lose his portfolio, given his disastrous Aboriginal heritage record, after it was revealed writs will be served against him today in a Supreme Court challenge to the Roe 8 Highway Project.

“It’s a shame yesterday’s cabinet reshuffle didn’t include a fresh face in the Ministry for Aboriginal Affairs – not only has the Premier’s personal workload diminished, but he has failed to replace one of the most underperforming Ministers, indicating there is simply no one better left in this government,” WA Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal Affairs Robin Chapple MLC said.

“This is the second Supreme Court legal challenge mounted against section 18 approvals presided over by Minister Collier in as many years – clearly he sees himself more as an industry enabler than a heritage protector.

“1 year ago this Friday the Supreme Court found guidelines based on advice from the State Solicitor’s Office on section 5(b) of the act had been illegally used to deregister 35 heritage sites, all earmarked for development.

“Minister Collier has refused to use powers allocated to him under sections 10 and 32 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act to speed up the assessment process of more than 15,800 backlogged sites.

“And he has repeatedly broken promises to traditional owners, admitting last year that administrative oversight was the reason 14 Kariyarra heritage sites had not yet been assessed before acknowledging just two weeks ago they probably never would be.

“This Department has been acting as if proposed amendments to the Aboriginal Heritage Act – which will strip any real power from the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee, and from Aboriginal people, concentrating it directly into the hands of the CEO – have already been passed.

“Quite simply, they have not. It is time for Minister Collier to go and time for this government to step up and treat Aboriginal heritage and Aboriginal people in Western Australia with the respect they deserve.”

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

Major parties both support Burrup development

24 March, 2016

WA Greens Mines and Petroleum spokesperson Robin Chapple MLC said he was disappointed by comments from Opposition Leader Mark McGowan that suggested Labor supported onshore LNG processing near Karratha.

“Mr McGowan last week suggested Woodside’s Browse LNG project could have been underway years ago with an onshore processing plant near Karratha, originally earmarked for the Burrup Peninsula,” Mr Chapple said.

“It is extremely disappointing to learn that both major parties continue to support the desecration of some of Australia’s, arguably the world’s, most significant Aboriginal rock carvings.

“We have already lost so much of the Burrup to industry – as much as 11% or over 10,000 carvings – surely what remains is worth protecting to the highest possible standard; a World Heritage Listing.

“To the best of my knowledge, Woodside has investigated potentially piping gas to the Burrup on a number of occasions previously and found it to be fiscally untenable. 

“The WA Greens do not support any new development on the Burrup Peninsula whatsoever; the long-term benefits of protecting this site far outweigh any others, particularly from a dying fossil fuel industry.”

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

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.

Minister breaks promise on important heritage sites

Wednesday, 16 March

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Peter Collier acknowledged yesterday in Parliament that 14 culturally significant sites near Port Hedland had not, and likely would not, be assessed in the near future despite years of promises.

WA Greens spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs Robin Chapple MLC said the lack of respect shown by the Minister with regards to Aboriginal heritage sites was simply appalling.

“This is a Minister who has either completely lost control of his department, or simply does not care about the people and culture who fall under his jurisdiction,” Mr Chapple said.

“I wrote to the Minister in January 2013 requesting, on behalf of traditional owners, that these sites be assessed as a matter of priority due to their location and cultural significance.

“The Minister promised that the assessment would happen by the March 2013 ACMC meeting, something which never eventuated.

“I have reminded the Minister several times on record that he made that promise to the Kariyarra people of Port Hedland.

“I am almost at my wits end; this is yet another example of how this government is systematically failing Aboriginal people in Western Australia on a personal, departmental and ministerial level.”

For comment please contact media liaison Tim Oliver on 08 9486 8255 or 0431 9696 25.

Youth suicide prevention must be community based

9 March, 2016

WA Greens Aboriginal Affairs spokesperson Robin Chapple MLC said a new approach for Aboriginal people, by Aboriginal people, must be sought to tackle increasing rates of Aboriginal youth suicide.

“What happened over the weekend in the Kimberley with the apparent suicide of a 10-year-old girl is absolutely tragic, and my heart goes out to her family and community,” Mr Chapple said.

“Unfortunately, this situation is becoming all-too-familiar; prevention should be sought through culture and community wellness, not by throwing money at band aid cures.

“Current policies that provide after-incident care to families and communities are contributing little towards addressing the grass roots causes of Indigenous youth suicide.

“Many Aboriginal communities are experiencing feelings of uncertainty about their culture, about their heritage and about their future and this permeates through communities to the young and most vulnerable.”

Mr Chapple said a national Elder’s report into preventing Indigenous Self-harm and Youth Suicide, published in 2014, has been largely ignored by the Barnett Government.

“Traditional suicide prevention methodology is simply not working and I think it is high time the Barnett government stop simply throwing more grants at the problem and listen to community leaders,” he said.

“I would urge Minister Morton to read, or re-read, this report and strongly consider its recommendations in the context of many of her government’s current objectives.”

For more information please contact media liaison Tim Oliver on 0431 9696 25 or 9486 8255.

Heritage reassessment being stalled, Greens MLC

2 March, 2016

Greens spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs Robin Chapple MLC has questioned the time it is taking the WA Government to reassess 35 sacred sites unlawfully deregistered since 2012.

The reassessment is due to a Supreme Court ruling in April last year that concluded a sacred site in Port Hedland had been unlawfully deregistered by the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee (ACMC).

“It was through parliamentary questions that I recently found out the heritage site review process is still ongoing, making it almost a year since they decided to reassess.

“The Government appears to be trying to stall the reassessment of these 35 unlawfully deregistered sites, why else would it be taking so long?” Mr Chapple said.

“Is it a coincidence that whilst the Government have taken their time development has continued in some of these sites?

“There’s also the rehashed Aboriginal Heritage Amendment Bill 2014, whose changes could restore these significant sites to the chopping block.

“Indigenous proponents and custodians who deserve to find out the future of their country are instead being forced to wait with little information and or hope.

“Why did the ACMC need to reassess the sites in the first place? They should have been reinstated as soon as the Supreme Court ruling was laid down.

“I urge the Government to finish this review process before any more harm is done and our traditional owners can rest assured knowing their sacred sites are safe.”


For more information please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255.


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