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Changes planned for Aboriginal legislation

Wednesday, 13th November, 2013

Aboriginal elder Maureen O’Donnell with Sarah Paddington of the Office of Environment and Heritage at the BH workshop yesterday. Aboriginal elder Maureen O’Donnell with Sarah Paddington of the Office of Environment and Heritage at the BH workshop yesterday.

By Emily Roberts

The State Government is looking to change Aboriginal cultural heritage legislation and yesterday it sought opinions in the BH district. 

The Government has released a model for stand-alone Aboriginal cultural heritage legislation which was developed in response to recommendations provided by an independent Reform Working Party.

It said there had been an “overwhelming” call from all stakeholders to improve the process and deliver better outcomes for everyone. 

The principles of the model include respect for Aboriginal culture; recognition of Aboriginal people’s responsibilities; authority over their own cultural heritage; and the right to expect protection for significant cultural values.

The reform process is taking place in three phases; they started in 2011 and the  first two involved collecting information and consulting people to establish what the reform needed to consider. 

The third phase involves consulting community members.

Office of Environment and Heritage spokeswoman, Sarah Paddington, said they had received a good response so far.

“It is a really exciting time at the moment. As we are in phase three, we are hearing from everyone,” Ms Paddington said.

“It has been an ongoing program. The previous legislation is over 40 years old. “The Government will use the feedback to refine and improve the legislation.

“It is time for reform; the legislation was not delivering to the community’s needs.”

Eleven workshops will be held across NSW and people will be able to have their say until February 14 next year.

“We want everyone to get engaged. If we start discussions then hopefully more discussions will be held between the community and elders,” Ms Paddington said.

“There has been a request for additional workshops, there are a lot of concerns about the details and how they will translate into cultural protocols.”

(To have your say visit www.environment.nsw.gov.au/achreform/haveyoursay.htm).

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