Section 16

If you are planning to enter and excavate an Aboriginal site (Site) and examine or remove anything on or under the Site, you are required to seek authorisation under Section 16 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972. To do this you need to submit a completed Section 16 Authority Application Form to

To help you to determine if a place is or could be a Site under the Act, visit Site Search. Complete a search of both Registered Sites and Other Heritage Information. If its status is:

  • Registered Site, then it has previously been assessed to be a Site. Submit the Section 16 Authority Application Form and attach a detailed project plan;
  • Stored Data then it has been previously assessed to not be a Site. You do not need to submit a Section16 Authority Application Form; or
  • Insufficient information or Lodged or if it is not listed at all, then it may or may not be a Site. It is recommended that you submit a Section 16 Authority Application Form and attach a detailed project plan and a Heritage Information Submission Form for any information that you currently have about the place. As you complete your work, submit an additional Heritage Information Submission Form as new and significant information comes to hand.

You may also wish to contact the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage by emailing or phoning (08) 6551 8002.

What happens when I submit an Application

The Registrar of Aboriginal Sites (Registrar) will consider the Application and may grant authorisation on the advice of and subject to conditions imposed by the Aboriginal Cultural Material Committee (ACMC). Refer to the ACMC Meeting Dates for the closing dates for receipt of Applications to be considered at a particular ACMC meeting.

Authorisation may be granted for any Site that meets the requirements of the Act, regardless of whether it is listed as a registered Site on the Register of Places and Objects (Register).

As the Act does not state the purpose for which Authority may be granted, the Registrar will consider each application on its merit. Particular cases where Authority may be granted include:

  • Where the thing is to be removed for examination, or for reasons of security, or to be placed in a museum;
  • Academic research of the Site or its elements that involves ground disturbance;
  • Further assessment of the importance and significance of the Site (e.g. to support a proposal that the Site be declared a Protected Area); or
  • Collection of samples (e.g. of paint).

How can I make sure I provide the right information

When submitting the completed Form, attach:

  • A Project Plan. The Project Plan will be the primary document upon which assessment will be based. The degree of detail provided should be commensurate with the scope and scale of the Project and include, as a minimum:
    • the methodology to be employed;
    • any object(s) (within the definition of section 6 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972) and other things intended to be removed from the Site;
    • whether the things to be removed from the Site will be replaced in situ;
    • if not, the location to which the object(s) are intended to be removed and the reason;
    • the proposed remediation of the site;precise details of any alteration to the Site as a result of the Project; and
    • native title bodies that have been provided a copy of this Application, evidence such as copies of correspondence sent and a summary or copy of response received.