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A draft Aborginal Culture and Heritage Bill released for consultation in NSW

Janine Johnson, a Mutawintji National Park Tour Guide with NSWALC Staff member Edwina Chen.

'NSWALC have put a set of principles on the table. They are not negotiable, that's the protection of who we are as Aboriginal people in NSW'

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage are holding a series of workshops in March 2018 for public consultation on the release of a draft Aboriginal Culture and Heritage Bill 2018.

New South Wales is the only state in Australia that does not have an Aboriginal Culture and Heritage Bill.

Wiradjuri Chair of The New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council Councillor Roy Ah-see says 'We’re hoping that the bill will go a long way into the protection of some of our sites that have been around for over 40 000 years.'

The workshops are open for members of New South Wales Land Council's and all Aboriginal people from NSW nations are invited to participate.

NSWALC encourages the Network and members of the Aboriginal community to engage in this important opportunity to improve Aboriginal culture and heritage laws in NSW.

In 2011 the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage drafted a proposed model on Aboriginal Cultural Heritage law reforms.

This established the beginning of a long process of consultation and advocacy from NSWALC and petitioning of the state government to debate in parliament urgent reform and protection of human and land rights for Aboriginal people and country.

'NSWALC have put a set of principles on the table. They are not negotiable, that's the protection of who we are as Aboriginal people in NSW'

The research on the process of drafting the bill includes NSWALC's revision of three draft models and a series of recommendations proposed in the model that have been reviewed before this current release of the draft from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. 

Councillor Ah-See says 'NSWALC have put a sense of principles on the table. They are not negotiable, that's the protection of who we are as Aboriginal people in NSW.'

'We are upholding the responsibility that comes with being an Aboriginal person in NSW'

The Bill would include reform on laws that assess risk in cases of economic development and industry where sacred sites and waterways would need protection.

'We’re open to the fact that we live in a society where a lot of development is happening.

Whether it’s mining, whether it’s building, civil engineering we understand that.

We need to be at the table when there are sacred sites that could potentially be destroyed, for the protection of our cultural heritage.' 

Councillor Ah-See says that what comes with holding knowledge of country is responsibility.

'We are upholding the responsibility that comes with being an Aboriginal person in NSW.'

 

Looking over country Tamworth
Looking over country Tamworth
NSWALC James Hunt

Cr Ah-See says further protection of cultural flow of waterways and the inclusion of water rights will be a priority in the draft Aboriginal Culture and Heritage Bill 2018.

The protection of culture and heritage of river systems will oversee problems in policy compliance on water allocated for environment and commercial interests which has been detrimental to the cultural flow of water in NSW. 

Roy Ah-See says 'We have 121 local Land Councils in NSW and a lot of them are river communities.

The river system is being absolutely desecrated.'

The Independent investigation into NSW water management and compliance' prompted by the ABC Four Corners report on the Murray Daring Basin Plan recommends solutions to the allegations of corruption and the non-compliance of legislation in the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

The investigation was sparked by the Four Corners report 'Pumped: Who is benefiting from the billions spent on the Murray-Darling? in July 2017.

This report shocked many First Nations people who have been looking for answers on why their rivers are dying.   

Read more on the purchase of water for environmental and irrigation purposes in the Murray Darling Basin

To register to attend the workshops on the Draft Aboriginal Culture and Heritage Bill 2018, go to the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage website

For more information see NSWALC’s Network Message of 23 February 2016, and the NSWALC ‘More than Flora and Fauna’ webpage.

 

 

NWSALC logo
NWSALC logo
NSWALC

 

 

 

 

 

 

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