What effect do the Aboriginal Communities Act and the Aboriginal Heritage Act have on Aboriginal reserves and other land?
The Aboriginal Communities Act allows an Aboriginal organisation to draw up and enforce by-laws. The by-laws can be about anything that is necessary for decency, order and good conduct on community lands. For example the by-laws may restrict access or bringing alcohol onto community lands. The by-laws will apply to all people who come within the community boundaries. Also the laws of Australia will continue to apply within the community boundaries.
The Aboriginal Heritage Act was introduced to protect all Aboriginal heritage. This includes all places and objects that are important to Aboriginal people because of connections to culture. Under the Act it is an offence for anyone (including Aboriginal people) to excavate, destroy, conceal or in any way alter an Aboriginal site, or any object without the permission of the Minister for Indigenous Affairs.
The Minister is advised on heritage matters by the Aboriginal Cultural Material Committee which includes Aboriginal men and women representing different parts of the State.
Leases to Aboriginal organisations usually include a clause requiring compliance with the Aboriginal Heritage Act.