Why is this important?
Aboriginal cultural heritage values must be considered when planning major developments and other high impact activities in culturally sensitive areas. The Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 provides for steps that must be taken to avoid or minimise the impact on Aboriginal cultural heritage. In these situations the Act may require the preparation of a Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP) or the planner or developer may need to obtain a Cultural Heritage Permit (CHP).
Developers must consult with Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs) and seek their approval of the CHMP. In some instances, councils themselves will be acting as a developer (e.g. building roads, public spaces etc.) and may also be required to prepare a CHMP or obtain a CHP. Councils cannot issue any statutory approval, such as a planning permit, without an approved CHMP where one is required, and councils must ensure that permit approvals align with recommendations of the CHMP.
Accordingly, local government has a substantial role in protecting Aboriginal cultural heritage.
What can your council do?
Councils have statutory obligations under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006. (Read more: download ‘Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 and the Planning Permit Process’).
In addition to meeting these obligations, councils can also:
- Ensure planning staff maintain their skills in cultural heritage, including by participating in professional learning and development opportunities such as those offered through PLANET (Planning Network)
- Ensure local developers are informed about requirements of the Act through posting information on council’s website.
- Carry out rehabilitation works to protect culturally sensitive areas on council-owned land
- Use the strategic planning tools available within the planning system to protect places of significant Aboriginal cultural heritage
- Work with RAPs to proactively protect significant Aboriginal cultural heritage in the municipality.