• Palawa leader Michael Mansell is committed to protecting sacred Country. (SBS)Source: SBS
An Indigenous rights campaigner says Aboriginal people should have been consulted about a heritage protection review before it was open to the public.
NITV Staff Writer

31 May 2019 - 1:11 PM  UPDATED 31 May 2019 - 1:11 PM

A prominent Indigenous lawyer and activist says “nothing’s going to change” from a broad review of laws designed to protect Tasmania’s Aboriginal history.

Key parts of Tasmania’s Aboriginal Relics Act were updated two years ago.

That included renaming it the Aboriginal Heritage Act; broadening the criteria for what is considered Aboriginal heritage; and increasing penalties for vandalism.

However, the state government said further work needs to be done and on Thursday announced key aspects of the Act would be reviewed.

"This is an opportunity for all Tasmanians to consider the effectiveness of the Act and to identify areas for improvement," said Jacquie Petrusma, Tasmania’s Aboriginal affairs minister.

Public submissions are open until September 21 with the review scheduled to be tabled in parliament by February 2021.

However, Indigenous rights campaigner Michael Mansell has criticised the “process of white authorities deciding the fate of Aboriginal heritage”.

“The key question is who owns Aboriginal heritage?” he told NITV News.

He said that the review should focus on Aboriginal people owning heritage items rather than the assumption that it be retained by the state.

“The review makes clear that Aborigines are just one of the many stakeholders alongside farmers, businesses, and individual people," Mr Mansell said.

"So the policy of alienation of Aboriginal people from our heritage is going to continue. What the review implies is that white people, through the government and through the government departments, will still own and control what happens with Aboriginal heritage.”

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