Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972

Greens to address Broome rally on community closures

Thursday, April 23

Greens member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Robin Chapple MLC will be speaking in Broome tomorrow at a rally against the government’s proposed remote community closures.

Mr Chapple said he was honoured to have been invited by community leaders to speak at the rally.

“The closure of remote communities will see an influx of people moving into regional centres, like Broome, putting extra pressure existing infrastructure,” he said.

“The government’s logic here is totally flawed; there is an already acute housing shortage in the Kimberley and regional service providers across the state will be placed under immense pressure.

“Economic and social problems will be caused, rather than alleviated, by forcing people to leave country as ties with the land form a significant part of culture and identity.

“History is about to repeat itself; the proposed closures will erode significant progress that has been made and result in generational trauma for Aboriginal Australians.”

More information about tomorrow's rally and the movement in general can be found here.

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

Media liaison: Tim Oliver           

Mobile: 0431 9696 25

Ancient rock art not sacred enough

Thursday, 23 April

In a move labelled shocking and internationally embarrassing by the WA Greens, Minister Collier this week confirmed the Burrup Peninsula had been deregistered as an Indigenous sacred site based on advice given by the State Solicitor’s Office (SSO) regarding section 5(b) of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972.

Greens spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs Robin Chapple MLC said it was deeply concerning to learn that one of Australia’s most significant heritage locations was no longer considered a sacred site.

“The Burrup Peninsula has the largest concentration of rock art in the world and is an extraordinary cultural landscape telling the story of ancient Aboriginal occupation over the past 30,000 years or more,” he said.

“Its significance is not lost on the international anthropological community or the federal government, both long term supporters of world heritage nomination for the Burrup Peninsula.

“Colin Barnett labelled it ‘the most significant heritage and anthropological site in Australia’ whilst in opposition yet his government continues to approve, and encourage, industrial development there.

“Blinded by greed, this government has shown time and again it has little respect for the importance of Indigenous culture or heritage.”

Mr Chapple, who has worked alongside the Friends of Australian Rock Art (FARA) as a tour guide on the Burrup Peninsula for almost 10 years, said the revelation was also a significant personal blow.

“I have dedicated the best part of my life to protecting the Burrup; this news has left me deeply ashamed,” he said.

 “It is without question one of the most important heritage locations in Australia and arguably the world; an ancient cultural and historical record of our nation’s first peoples.

“Irrelevant of the department’s interpretation of the heritage act, the Burrup Peninsula is a sacred site and deserves to be treated as such.”

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

Media liaison: Tim Oliver           

Mobile: 0431 9696 25




Landmark court case sets new heritage precedent

Thursday, April 2

The Supreme Court of Western Australia yesterday overturned a decision by the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee (ACMC) to deregister a Port Hedland Aboriginal sacred site in a test case on the committee’s interpretation of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972.

Guidelines issued by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs on section 5b of the Act stated that to be recognised as a ‘sacred site’, a place needs to have been devoted to religious use rather than simply mythological stories, songs or beliefs.

These guidelines have already resulted in 22 sites being delisted since November 2012 with many more earmarked for removal from the register.

In delivering his verdict, Justice Chaney stated: “By requiring evidence of specific religious use, the ACMC did not have regard to associated sacred beliefs as the primary consideration as required by s 39(3). The ACMC asked itself the wrong questions and identified the wrong issues, thereby falling into jurisdictional error.”

WA Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal Affairs Robin Chapple MLC said this was a tremendous victory, not just for Kerry and Diana Robinson, but for all Indigenous West Australians.

“It is not the government’s right to set the parameters by which a site is deemed sacred by its traditional owners,” he said.

“The ACMC should be listening to Indigenous Australians and taking into account their interpretation of what defines a sacred site as paramount.”

Mr Chapple said all sites which had been deregistered using this interpretation of a ‘sacred site’ must now be reinstated by the ACMC.

“Many of these sites were deregistered because they were impeding state development,” he said.

“It certainly makes you wonder why the department introduced such a narrow interpretation of a sacred site at this time.

“Any development that is now taking place at previously registered sites must be immediately halted before more damage is done.”

Mr Chapple said this issue stemmed from a lack of proper representation on the ACMC and hence, a lack of appropriate cultural understanding when it came to making decisions on Aboriginal heritage.

“There is a distinct lack of indigenous representation on the committee and, despite their being a requirement in the Act, no anthropologist either,” he said.

“It’s no wonder they make these kind of monumental cultural errors; the ACMC needs an immediate overhaul so that it can provide the proper representation and protection for Indigenous heritage.”

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

Media liaison: Tim Oliver           

Mobile: 0431 9696 25


Subscribe to RSS - Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972
Go to top