Legislation update

Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2021 expected to be enacted in December 2021

By Paul Harley and Alison Cooper / 24 November 2021
1 min.

Late last night the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2021 (WA) (Bill) passed through the lower house of Parliament of Western Australian (the Legislative Assembly). It is expected that the Bill will pass through the upper house (Legislative Council) and be enacted as legislation by the end of this year. 

The Bill strengthens the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Western Australia by:

  • significantly increasing the penalties imposed for harming Aboriginal cultural heritage;
  • introducing a new tiered assessment system for different categories of activities that may harm Aboriginal cultural heritage with different approvals required for low impact activities, and medium to high impact activities; and 
  • modernising the definition of ‘Aboriginal cultural heritage’ to include intangible elements that are important to the Aboriginal people of Western Australia and cultural landscapes. 

Once enacted, the Bill will significantly impact professionals and industries that work in areas of cultural importance to Aboriginal people in Western Australia. The assent of the Bill will mark the first time the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (WA) has been substantially amended since its inception 49 years ago.

Paul Harley
Paul is a Partner and the head of our leading Resources and Energy practice in Perth.
Alison Cooper
Senior Associate
Alison is a Senior Associate in our Resources and Energy practice.

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