​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Aboriginal Heritage Act 1975​ (the Act)  is administered by the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment. It is the primary legislation for the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Tasmania.
The Aboriginal Heritage Act 1975 ​is the amended version of the Aboriginal Relics Act 1975. The Act amendments commenced on​ 16 August 2017. 

​Statutory Review of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1975

​A review of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1975 is underway.

A Discussion Paper has been prepared by the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment and public comment is invited from 1 June to 21 September 2019.

To find out more about the review, and to access the Discussion Paper, please visit the Department’s website​ or contact the DPIPWE Review Team: aboriginalheritageact@dpipwe.tas.gov.au or 03 6165 3201.

Statutory Guidelines

The Act provides for statutory guidelines which specify the actions required by a person to establish a defence in accordance with section 21 of the Act.  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. 

  Guidelines   (3Mb)

The following doc​uments have been adopted in the Guidelines:

The Guidelines provide for two defences:​
  • Action during emergency response scenarios;  
  • A general defence of “compliance with the guidelines”, specifically for offences under sections 9 and 14. 

Recent Changes

Changes to the legislation were made in 2017. 

Key changes include:
  • The Act was previously named the ​​Aboriginal Relics Act 1975;
  • References to 1876 being a ‘cut-off’ point for what is considered as Aboriginal heritage have been removed;
  • Increased penalties for damage to Aboriginal heritage;
  • Introduction of scaled offences, in association with the removal of the ignorance defence;
  • Removal of the 6-month time limit for prosecuting offences;
  • Establishment of a statutory Aboriginal Heritage Council of Aboriginal people to advise the Minister; and
  • Setting a statutory timeline for further review of the Act.

Other relevant legislation



Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania
GPO Box 44
Hobart TAS 7001
Phone: 1300 487 045
Email: aboriginal@heritage.tas.gov.au