Modernising Aboriginal cultural heritage legislation in WA is the right thing to do. We need new laws that are strong enough to stop another disaster like the 2020 destruction of 46,000-year-old-rock caves in the Pilbara, and others like it.
Without proper reform, irreplaceable Aboriginal cultural heritage sites, some dating back tens of thousands of years, will continue to be destroyed every day. It’s important, however, that we take this once-in-a-generation opportunity to get it right for the benefit of all Australians. We need laws and associated guidelines and regulations that protect and allow us to celebrate Aboriginal cultural heritage together.
It’s important that Aboriginal people, government, industry and other relevant stakeholders work together, in the true spirit of partnership, to co-design not just the new laws, but also the associated regulatory guidelines and procedures that stop destruction of significant sites, and ensure the right balance between Aboriginal cultural heritage protection and economic benefit.
A genuine co-design process would ensure the new laws and associated policies, guidelines and regulations can’t be created or changed without authentic, sustained engagement with Aboriginal people.
The planned Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Protection Co-Design Workshop will be the first step in this important (and far longer-term) endeavour.