Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Protection
Co-Design Workshop

Co-Design Workshop

On 7 and 8 April 2022, the National Native Title Council, Native Title Services Goldfields, South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council and Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation hosted an online workshop. This brought together Traditional Owners, government and industry representatives, heritage professionals and co-design experts to discuss a ‘co-design’ approach specific to the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021 (WA) (ACH Act).


The full report detailing outcomes of the workshop can be viewed online. This report has been shared with WA Aboriginal Affairs Minister Dr Tony Buti to help inform the State Government’s co-design process relating to the ACH Act. Several questions directed to Minister Buti were raised during the workshop and shared with him following the event. Read the response from Minister Buti.


Day One was for WA Prescribed Bodies Corporate (PBCs) and WA Alliance organisations only. Traditional Owner representatives from WA PBCs and the WA Alliance of Native Title Representative Bodies and Service Providers (the WA Alliance) – as well as their nominated support staff – came together to hear from co-design experts, share their stories and discuss what co-design means to them.


Day Two was open to representatives from ALL related interest groups to collaborate and identify a way forward. Traditional Owners were joined by representatives of other interest groups impacted by the new heritage laws as they endeavoured to find common ground and a way forward together.



Workshop overview

By hosting the workshop, event partners created a forum for a broad representation of First Nations people from across Western Australia to learn about national and international understandings and applications of genuine co-design. It was an opportunity to consider these principles and approaches to better identify what co-design should mean in the context of implementing the ACH Act and its ongoing review.


Both workshop days were chaired by Whadjuk Yued Noongar man Brendan Moore and co-facilitated by Ballardong-Whadjuk Noongar maarman Bill Bennell and Yawuru woman Mandy Gadsdon.


To inform discussions, presentations were made by:


The workshop’s intended objective was to have an Aboriginal-led conversation with other relevant stakeholders about what co-design should look like and what it means to them. A key aspect was exploring shared understandings of what co-design is – and what it isn’t.


Read the media statement about the workshop outcomes.



What is co-design?

Drawing from best practice approaches undertaken elsewhere, we know that ‘consultation’ does not equate to ‘co-design’ – legitimate co-design processes require continual collaboration and improvement, as well as ensuring the right stakeholders are involved.


The main purpose of co-design is to generate meaningful dialogue among all stakeholders, giving the people most affected by the problems needing solutions a primary role in solving them.


Co-design is not simply about designing innovative services, products or policies. It is about prioritising the stories of the people those services, products or policies will serve – at every stage of the design process.


If genuine co-design is to be achieved, this Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Protection Co-Design Workshop should only be the first important step in a far longer-term endeavour.



Who hosted the workshop?

This workshop was co-presented by the National Native Title Council and members from the WA Alliance of Native Title Representative Bodies and Service Providers (the WA Alliance): Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation, South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council and Native Title Services Goldfields. It forms part of our broader awareness-raising regarding Aboriginal cultural heritage protection.



Who was invited to participate?

Workshop invitations were shared with WA Traditional Owners, care of their Native Title Representative Bodies and Service Providers and PBCs.


Other invited interest groups included:

  • other organisations/alliances with a focus on Aboriginal cultural heritage protection.
  • government representatives, including ministers, senators, departmental staff and members of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Reference Group.
  • peak industry bodies and resource companies, such as the Chamber of Minerals and Energy WA, Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA, Amalgamated Prospectors and Leaseholders Association of WA, Rio Tinto, BHP and FMG.
  • professional associations working with Aboriginal cultural heritage, including the Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists (WA Chapter) and Anthropological Society of WA.
  • peak investment sector bodies and companies, including the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, Australian Council of Superannuation Investors, Responsible Investment Association Australasia, Global Compact Network Australia, HESTA, Australian Ethical Investment and Perpetual.



The event partners acknowledge the Traditional Owners and custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to the people, cultures, and Elders past, present and emerging.


We thank the Australian Government, through the National Indigenous Australians Agency, for their support in delivering this event.