Resources and position statements

​​​​​​​The Aboriginal Heritage Council provides advice to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and the public on all Aboriginal heritage matters across the State for the protection and management of Aboriginal heritage. 

The Council works with developers, land owners, land managers and others to raise awareness that Aboriginal heritage and engagement with the Aboriginal community be included in the planning process.


 Aboriginal Heritage Council Briefing (DOCX 152Kb)

 Aboriginal Heritage Council Community Consultation Template (DOCX 182Kb)

​Subsurfa​c​​e te​​​sting 

The Aboriginal Heritage Council considers many applications for a permit to undertake subsurface testing. The Council do not believe the impact of these activities on Aboriginal heritage to be justifiable if they do not result in genuine positive outcomes for understanding or management.  

Accordingly, the Aboriginal Heritage Council’s position is:
  • AHOs cultural knowledge, understanding and advice must be an essential part of evaluating the need for subsurface testing. 
  • The Council do not support subsurface testing as a default approach to conducting an Aboriginal heritage assessment. However, the Council understand that in some circumstances Aboriginal heritage assessments require additional investigations, such as sub surface testing, to determine the true extent of Aboriginal values due to certain factors and limitations encountered during the initial surface survey.  
  • Therefore, the Council would consider the merits of each proposal on a case-by-case basis.
For substantial proposed subsurface testing a pre-testing briefing to the Council at an Aboriginal Heritage Council meeting is recommended.  Council meetings are held on the last Friday of each month.  Contact the Council’s Executive Officer for further details:  email​  or call 6232 7893.

For further guidance regarding subsurface testing go to Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania’s Standards and Procedures available on their website:

​Consultati​​on e​​xpectations  ​

The Aboriginal Heritage Council rescinded previous advice regarding Aboriginal community consultation thresholds, which determined that consultation was not required if less than 10 isolated artefacts were identified, or where the impacts of a project upon heritage were negligible.  This advice has been replaced with a recommendation that consultation be undertaken for all assessments, regardless of whether Aboriginal heritage is identified or the degree of the impact. 

The Aboriginal Heritage Council’s expectations, regarding specific scale and structure of community consultation, are as follows:

The Council considers that a primary role of the Aboriginal Heritage Officers (AHOs) within the Aboriginal heritage assessment process is to appropriately consult with the Aboriginal community on heritage matters, and to guide the formulation of socio-cultural significance statements for cultural values based on that consultation. Noting however, that although consultation with the Aboriginal community is primarily the role of the AHO, it does not relinquish the need for the Archaeologist or project team to participate.

In line with national best practice standards the Council anticipates that community consultation will occur early and often throughout the planning process, in a manner that is determined and agreed to between the consulting party (Aboriginal organisation or individuals) and the AHO. For guidance regarding national best practice standards see the AIATSIS Engagement Policy Snapshot.  

In addition, the Council provide the following guiding principles to be applied when undertaking consultation:
  • ‘Engaging’ and ‘Informing’ are seen as carrying different meaning – where one involves a back-and-forth dialogue and the other is only notification. Both are acceptable forms of consultation depending on the needs of the consulting party but should be clearly differentiated in reporting. Where no Aboriginal ​heritage is found, ‘informing’ is an appropriate response.  
  • Consultation should be undertaken with multiple consulting parties, but in a scalable way. For larger, complex or controversial projects, consultation should be as broad as possible and attempted state-wide, whereas smaller scale and non-complex projects require less consultation which may be limited geographically.
  • Appropriate time should be allowed for consulting parties to make a reply, which may differ between parties and projects. For example, ten working days would be considered a minimum for small scale projects.
The Council also recognise the demand upon Aboriginal organisations and individuals to provide feedback on a range of proposed activities is high and increasing. We note it is generally expected that Aboriginal people will provide their time and intellectual property to these processes at no cost.  The Council encourage AHOs to use their influence as a consultant to reduce this burden on Aboriginal people and organisations. This could mean encouraging the proponent to allocate fees-for-service in their project budget. Alternatively, AHOs could take steps to reduce the burden of consultation on third parties, perhaps by offering to meet in person to discuss the project, capture any feedback and provide a draft response for review and endorsement. This additional function could be captured in AHOs consulting fees.
To further guide and support the consultation process the Council have developed the Aboriginal Heritage Council Community Consultation Template.  
For additional advice regarding consultation go to Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania’s Standards and Procedures available on their website:

​Reloc​​ation of ​​arte​​fac​​ts 

At its meeting on 25 October 2023, the Aboriginal Heritage Council observed that artefact relocation was becoming increasingly common as a mitigation option presented in Aboriginal Heritage Assessment Reports (AHARs) and permit applications.

Members agreed that relocation was not a preferred option and should not be considered a default approach by proponents and/or consultant archaeologists and Aboriginal Heritage Officers. 

The Council agreed that it would only support relocation if the Aboriginal Heritage Assessment Report made clear that multiple options had been explored and consulted on widely, demonstrating relocation to be the best option, following consultation with Aboriginal people.


When considering permit applications, the Aboriginal Heritage Council assesses the extent to which the applicant demonstrates a genuine effort to avoid or mitigate impacts to Aboriginal heritage.  The Council also recommend that applicants provide clear reasons why Aboriginal heritage cannot be avoided.

Aborig​​i​​nal Heritag​​​​e O​​​ffi​cers’ voice - advice to proponents

The Aboriginal Heritage Council highly regard the advice provided by Aboriginal Heritage Officers (AHOs). The Council therefore advise proponents to include their AHOs voice and recommendations clearly on permit applications.

​Guidin​​g pri​​nciples f​or pl​anning and research

Principle 1 - Pre-Planning

Development of land can cause significant harm to Aboriginal heritage. Understanding any potential Aboriginal heritage located in the proposed activity or research area can avoid impacts to Aboriginal heritage.

Principle 2 - Engaging with Aboriginal people

Respectful, early engagement and ongoing communication strengthens Aboriginal people's understanding of your proposal or research.

Allow appropriate timeframes for your proposal or research to be considered fully by Aboriginal people.

Principle 3 - Providing complete development proposal documentation

To provide a more transparent, consistent and effective approach to protecting and managing Aboriginal heritage, we ask that proponents and land managers provide complete development proposal documentation. This is particularly important for projects that will be implemented over a number of stages.

Complete development proposal documentation also allows for Aboriginal people to better understand your project and give feedback.

This also ensures that Aboriginal heritage is considered early in the development planning process.​


Useful links

Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania

Records, protects and manages Aboriginal cultural heritage and is responsible for the administration of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1975​​.

Office of Aboriginal Affairs (Tas)​

Primary resource for and adviser to the Government on policy issues affecting Tasmania's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

Aboriginal Education Services (Tas)​

Assists schools to enable all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people reach their learning potential.

The Orb

A collection of online multimedia resources designed to assist the teaching of Tasmanian Aboriginal histories and cultures.

Riawunna Centre - UTAS

Assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in study, to access academic and pastoral support, and be part of the Aboriginal community within   the University.

ningina tunapri (Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery)

An exhibition that explores the journey of Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

AIATSIS (Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies)

Australia's only national institution focused exclusively on the diverse history, cultures and heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia. They conduct research diretly benefiting the comunities they work with.

They have developed the Code of Ethics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research​ which provide a process of meaningful engagement and reciprocity between the researcher and individuals and/or communities involved in the research.


National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee