Aboriginal Cultural Heritage is not afforded proper protection in NSW and First Nations people do not have care and control over their cultural heritage. NSW is the only jurisdiction in Australia without stand alone First Nations cultural heritage laws.
Successive NSW Governments have engaged in processes to establish laws that protect Aboriginal cultural heritage but they have failed to genuinely engage in a culturally appropriate process with Aboriginal people and deliver what is actually needed.
The consistent voices of First Nations people say that they are a sovereign people and they want the care of and control over their cultural heritage. It is clear that the current system facilitates the desecration and destruction of Aboriginal cultural heritage and is causing ongoing harm and trauma to First Nations people across NSW and beyond.
The Greens want to see Aboriginal cultural heritage in NSW recognised, celebrated and protected.
The current First Nations cultural heritage system is radically failing to adequately protect both tangible and intangible Aboriginal cultural heritage, with cultural heritage matters treated at best as an ancillary consideration. The current system facilitates the desecration and destruction of cultural heritage for development and is causing ongoing harm and trauma to First Nations people across NSW and beyond.
Any developer in NSW can currently apply for an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit that requires an archeological investigation of cultural heritage but then allows it to be removed, changed or destroyed. This system has allowed 3000 of these permits to be granted since 2010 and not a single application has been refused on the grounds that it will destroy cultural heritage. The Minister for Environment and Heritage makes these decisions, not First Nations people. The current laws are inconsistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) which calls for the protection of and sovereignty over First Nations cultural heritage.
The Greens will introduce laws that will:
- achieve self determination for First Nations people over their cultural heritage.
- give recognition to Aboriginal cultural heritage as part of a living culture that is afforded protection from inappropriate development by private and government projects.
Laws and administration that deliver genuine justice, recognition and protection for Aboriginal cultural heritage
Stand alone Aboriginal cultural heritage laws will be developed as determined by First Nations people through a culturally appropriate process which means First Nations led and inclusive. The Greens are committed to this law making process and preventing the ongoing destruction of Aboriginal cultural heritage as it takes place.
Aboriginal cultural heritage laws will be administered by those in communities with cultural authority.
Laws introduced will include the right for Aboriginal cultural authority holders and parties to have the final say over the protection, care and control of Aboriginal cultural heritage, including where development is concerned.
Aboriginal cultural authority holders and Aboriginal controlled organisations will be provided with the tools and funding to protect cultural heritage and meaningfully engage with all public authorities within the framework of the new laws.