Destruction damage or alteration (impact) to an Aboriginal Site without the prior consent of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Minister) is an offence under section 17 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (Act).
The Government's Due Diligence Guidelines assist land users to understand their obligations under the Act and inform their risk-management decisions.
Applicants are recommended to contact the Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA) to discuss their circumstances by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning (08) 6551 8000.
Section 18 Notices
Where land users conclude that impact to a Site is unavoidable, the Minister's consent may be sought under Section 18 of the Act to impact the Aboriginal Site by giving notice to the Aboriginal Cultural Material Committee (ACMC). Refer to Section 18 Notices for further information.
Section 17 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 outlines offences relating to Aboriginal sites.
A person who -
(a) excavates, destroys, damages, conceals or in any way alters any Aboriginal site; or
(b) in any way alters, damages, removes, destroys, conceals, or who deals with in a manner not sanctioned by relevant custom, or assumes the possession, custody or control of, any object on or under an Aboriginal site;
(c) commits an offence unless he is acting with the authorisation of the Registrar under section 16 or the consent of the Minister under section 18.
Section 16 Authorisation
A Section 16 Authorisation is a permission granted by the Registrar of Aboriginal Sites, on the advice of the Aboriginal Cultural Material Committee, to enter an Aboriginal Site and excavate, examine or remove anything on or under the site in a manner and subject to conditions as the Committee may advise. Refer to Section 16 Authorisation for further information.
Programme of Works
The Department of Mines and Petroleum's 'Programme of Work – Exploration activities' application form requires applicants to seek advice about their responsibilities under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 before lodging an application. Refer to Programme of Works for further information.
If you wish to undertake any of the activities within a Protected Area or Aboriginal Site which are prohibited under Regulation 10 of the Aboriginal Heritage Regulations 1974, you may apply in writing to the Registrar of Aboriginal Sites (Registrar) requesting that consent be issued. Refer to Regulation 10 for further information.
South West Settlement
On 8 June 2015, six identical Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) were executed across the South West by the Western Australian Government and, respectively, the Yued, Whadjuk People, Gnaala Karla Booja, Ballardong People, South West Boojarah #2 and Wagyl Kaip and Southern Noongar groups, and the South West Land and Sea Council (SWALSC).
The ILUAs bind the parties (including 'the State', which encompasses all State Government departments and certain State Government agencies) to enter into a Noongar Standard Heritage Agreement (NSHA) when conducting Aboriginal Heritage Surveys in the ILUA areas, unless they have an existing heritage agreement. It is also intended that other State agencies and instrumentalities enter into the NSHA when conducting Aboriginal Heritage Surveys in the ILUA areas. It is recommended a NSHA is entered into, and an 'Activity Notice' issued under the NSHA, if there is a risk that an activity will 'impact' (i.e. by excavating, damaging, destroying or altering in any way) an Aboriginal heritage site. The Aboriginal Heritage Due Diligence Guidelines, which are referenced by the NSHA, provide guidance in how to assess this risk.