No. Proponents (e.g. mining companies) cannot avoid engaging with Traditional Owners prior to works that may significantly impact Aboriginal cultural heritage places. Proponents are required to consult with the Local Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Services (LACHS) to negotiate an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management Plan (ACHMP) prior to ‘Tier 3’ activities. However, at lower levels (i.e. ‘Tier 1’ and exempt activities) they may be able to avoid engaging with Traditional Owners prior to the works, and ‘Tier 2’ activities only require notification to the LACHS with time (duration as yet unknown) to provide comment before applying for a permit. These “tiers” are yet to be defined, however, Tier 3 activities are likely to include mining and exploration; while Tiers 1 and 2 are likely to involve activities which involve less physical ground impact (e.g. Tier 2 might include rock chipping or activities using handheld tools).
The WA State Government has indicated that a co-design process – or at least consultation – will be carried out in relation to formulating these categories in regulations or guidelines; further highlighting the importance of co-design of the regulations or guidelines for Traditional Owners.