Aboriginal Heritage Act—Responses from Aboriginal Affairs Victoria

By on September 29, 2006

Will all work authority applications made under the Extractive Industry Development Act have to have a Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP) in place prior to its approval?

No. It will depend on the location of proposed extractive activities, specifically the Aboriginal heritage sensitivity of the land, the past development history of the land and the nature of the impact of the proposed activity. Regulations covering the circumstances in which a Cultural Heritage Management plan (CHMP) will be required are being developed and industry will be consulted on these regulations as part of the regulatory impact statement process later this year.

Can a CHMP be set without the land owner’s consent (assuming notification occurred in relation to s.44)? (s.45)

The legislation provides for voluntary CHMP’s (see section 45). However, these cannot be instigated on private land without the owner’s consent.

What are the ‘prescribed standards’ for mentioned in s.53?

All CHMP’s must comply with minimum standards which will be prescribed by regulations to the Act. There will be a minimum standard for the quality, nature and quantity of work undertaken as part of a CHMP. These standards will be set by the Secretary of the Department of Victorian Communities.

If a sponsor (who is a private person or body) resolves to discontinue a CHMP as the project is not practical at the present point in time, why are they required to hand over all investigations that have been conducted at their expense? (s.67)

It is a legal requirement of this Department to maintain an accurate and up to date register of Aboriginal heritage in Victoria. There is already a legislative requirement to report any discoveries of Aboriginal heritage to the Department, and has been since 1972.

This will continue to be the case under the new legislation. If a CHMP has been conducted or partially conducted, then the Department will need to know that that area has been the subject of assessment, and the results of the assessment.

This information will then be available for referral by future proponents of activities on that land. A similar requirement to provide site documentation form archaeological surveys exists under the current state legislation concerning Aboriginal and European heritage.

How does a sponsor establish which registered Aboriginal parties it must notify in accordance with s.54?

The Department will keep an accurate record of registered Aboriginal parties and provide public access to this information.

How many cultural heritage advisors are there registered (or anticipated) in Victoria and secondly, how does one establish their work ethics and outcomes?

There are currently about 80 cultural heritage advisors and organisations that have advisors on staff operating within Victoria. This does not include advisors and companies based interstate, many of whom also operate nationally.

Many are members of the Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists and must comply with the code of ethics and standards set by that Association to retain membership.

More information is available at the Association’s website: www.aacai.com.au/

The Act provides that all cultural heritage advisors must have appropriate qualifications (see section 189). It is intended that the Minister will publish guidelines specifying those qualifications following the establishment of the Aboriginal Heritage Council.

If a ‘Stop Order’ was evoked and the sponsor found to be complying with the CHMP, would there be any recourse for compensation for lost income? (s.87)

It is not intended that a stop order would be made in relation to an activity for which a CHMP is in force, unless there are reasonable grounds to believe the CHMP has been (or is likely to be) contravened or the impact of the activity on Aboriginal heritage exceeds that contemplated when the CHMP was approved.

In these limited circumstances, the Minister may order a cultural heritage audit (section 81) and issue an order to stop the activity to which the audit relates (section 88).

All costs of the advisor to conduct the audit are met by the Department (section 83(5)). Compensation for other costs in these circumstances is not available under this legislation.

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