The Aboriginal Heritage Act 1975 is administered by the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania. It is the primary legislation for the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Tasmania.
The Aboriginal Heritage Act 1975 provides for statutory guidelines which specify the actions required by a person to establish a defence in accordance with section 21 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1975. They provide an opportunity for people and businesses to be pro-active in seeking to minimise potential harm to Aboriginal heritage, and to avoid the possibility of their actions being negligent.
The Guidelines also adopt any standards, rules, codes, guidelines or other documents. Anyone who acts in accordance with these adopted documents is taken to be acting in accordance with the Guidelines.
The following standards and procedures have been adopted in the Guidelines:
Aboriginal Heritage Standards and Procedures (840Kb)
Forest Practices Authority Tasmania's Procedures for managing Aboriginal cultural heritage when preparing Forest Practices Plans
The State Government's Mineral Exploration Code of Practice
The Guidelines provide for two defences:
- Action during emergency response scenarios;
- A general defence of "compliance with the guidelines" specifically for defences under sections 9 and 14 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1975.
Review of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1975
A review of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1975 has been completed.
The review considered the design and operation of the Act and involved extensive engagement with Tasmania's Aboriginal people, non-Aboriginal stakeholders and the broader Tasmanian community; review of the approaches to, and operation of, Aboriginal heritage management legislation in other Australian jurisdictions; preparation and publication of a Consultation Feedback Report, which summarised the feedback received through the public consultation; preparation of a Review Report outlining the issues identified with the Act and presentation by the Minister of a report to Parliament (the Tabling Report) on the outcome of the review, including the Government’s response.
The discussion paper below was provided to inform feedback for the public consultation process (1 July-21 September 2019).
Discussion Paper - Review of Aboriginal Heritage Act 1975 (1Mb)
Public consultation document released
The Consultation Feedback Report - the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1975 was released as part of the Act's review.
Find out more about the Report and the submissions received.
A one-page summary of the public consultation process is also available.
The Aboriginal Heriage Act 1975 public consultation - at a glance (682Kb)
The original timeline was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2021 State election, but the Department sought to ensure that the final output was delivered as close as possible to the original deadline (February 2021).
- Public consultation – 1 July to 21 September 2019
- Release Consultation Feedback Report – December 2019
- Targeted consultation – final quarter of 2020
- Review Report delivered to the Minister – first quarter 2021
- Tabling Report on the outcome of review presented in Parliament – 1 July 2021
Review Report and Tabling Report
Other relevant legislation
Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act 1995
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984
Aboriginal Lands Act 1995
National Parks and Reserves Management Act 2002
Crown Lands Act 1976
Living Marine Resources Management Act 1995
Coroners Act 1995
Museums (Aboriginal Remains) Act 1984