On 24 June 2021, the Council held a facilitated planning session to consider their focus for the year, particularly in light of new members, the review of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1975 and the recent announcement by the Government of a pathway to Treaty with Tasmanian Aboriginal people.
The Council discussed how to move forward strategically, with authority and influence to achieve its goals and aspirations. A focus of Council’s work will be the development of new Aboriginal heritage legislation to ensure it provides strong protection for Aboriginal cultural values within Tasmania. Council confirmed its Guiding Principles which provides the foundation for the Council’s work. The Guiding Principles will be published on the Aboriginal Heritage Council website soon.
The following day, Council held its regular monthly meeting and considered one Aboriginal heritage permit application. As part of the decision-making process, members discussed interpretation of the Aboriginal cultural heritage values of the site and broader landscape. While acknowledging the proponent’s efforts to avoid impacting the known heritage, Council chose to defer a decision on the permit while awaiting further advice from the proponent regarding site interpretation options.
The Council also discussed the Premier’s recent announcement regarding consideration of a Treaty. Members welcomed the announcement, noting that the process needs to consider the importance of protecting and celebrating Aboriginal heritage as a necessary precondition for a Treaty. The Council will seek further information from the Government on what the process towards Treaty will look like.
Staff from the Parks and Wildlife Service provided a presentation on the draft Status and Trends in the Condition of Cultural Values in the TWWHA document, which aims to understand the disparate values across the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area – what the values are, and what is their current condition. Members will consider the document and provide feedback to the Parks and Wildlife Service.
The Council also discussed content material for the Aboriginal Heritage Council website including adding a link to the Orb - a collection of online resources to assist the teaching of Tasmanian Aboriginal histories and cultures. Creating a new section on awareness and education for the website was also raised.
The next meeting of the Aboriginal Heritage Council is to be held on 30 July 2021 in Hobart.