Aboriginal Heritage Council Meeting

​The Aboriginal Heritage Council met for their regular monthly meeting on Friday 25 August 2023 in Hobart.

The Council considered and did not oppose one application for a permit under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1975.

Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania senior policy staff provided a briefing on the Aboriginal Lands Amendment Bill 2023​ including an outline of the key proposed changes. The Bill was released in mid-August for a six (6) week consultation period, with submissions closing COB Tuesday 19 September 2023.  The Council agreed to prepare a strong formal response to the Aboriginal Lands Amendment Bill 2023 on a number of points. 

Primarily, the Council noted that the language of the Act does not refer to ‘Tasmanian Aboriginal people’ (instead only ‘Aboriginal people’) and felt strongly that this should be addressed as a first priority.  The Council discussed the critical importance of lore and protocols restricting Aboriginal people to only speak for their own Country, citing several national examples.  Members agreed that the intention of the Act (and equivalent Native Title legislation across Australia) is to return land specifically to the peoples from whom it was stolen.

Members noted that this was an important opportunity to get the legislation right; there may not be another review for decades. Any individual or group, including non-Aboriginal Tasmanians, can make submissions, and is encouraged to do so by the Council.

The Council also discussed the critical need for appropriate resourcing for land management, noting that ALCT receives inadequate funding to effectively manage the land for which it is responsible.  It was noted that current funding makes it functionally impossible for ALCT to be compliant with a management plan.

Mac Point’s Acting CEO, Anne Beach provided the Council with an update on the development of the precinct (see the revised precinct plan) and Aboriginal heritage assessment findings.

The Council had previously granted a permit for artefacts found at Mac Point to be taken interstate for analysis. Seven of the 35 artefacts were found to be first contact, dated between 1804 and 1815 and highly significant. The Council were assured that the artefacts were found in an area within the original shoreline that will not be impacted by the precinct development plans, which are contained within the reclaimed shoreline.  

The Council were informed that the revised Mac Point precinct plan included a stadium, facilities comprising a ‘gateway to the Antarctic’, affordable housing and a truth and reconciliation park. The Mac Point team believed this was an opportunity to completely re-design the truth and reconciliation park, including re-thinking its purpose and what it might deliver, in consultation with Tasmanian Aboriginal communities.  The Council indicated strong disappointment that the cultural centre had again been removed from the precinct, especially as Tasmania is the only state without one. 

The Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania Cultural Management Group (CMG) provided an update on the next five-year cycle of TWWHA Access Visits.  The Council was advised that this cycle will adopt a new approach to providing opportunities for Aboriginal people to participate in TWWHA projects through broader engagement with the Aboriginal community.  Council members shared their observations of the powerful and positive impact the TWWHA Access Visits have on young Aboriginal people.  It was agreed these opportunities could also help foster interest in careers as Aboriginal Heritage Officers. CMG requested that Council members encourage participation in the project within their communities.

The next Aboriginal Heritage Council meeting will be held on Friday 29 September 2023 in Hobart.