Aboriginal Heritage Act Review

I am half way through my practicum at the Department of Indigenous Affairs in Western Australia. Presently the department is going through an Act review. This is looking at the act and then seeing whether it applies or is utilised? The lawyer consults with all the members and understands what happens in the department according to the act.

One of the interesting aspects is how Western Australia separates objects and sites in its legislation of protection. One of the problems with this is that it is becoming difficult to understand the role of the DIA in its protection of objects and whether it has the resources to protect thousands of objects.

However the most interesting aspect is how university has prepared me for this type of environment. Mark Staniforth’s Maritime Archaeology unit consistently compared other acts, the positives and negatives and the AHA review meeting looked at various other state government acts. It showed the realities of tutorials at university are not separate from the everyday life that government departments around the country experience day-to-day.

The AHA review runs twice a week with different branches of heritage all getting their say for two hours. It would be good to see with this level of consultation that the Department of Indigenous Affairs legislation becomes all the stronger into the future on the community’s trust in the department to protect the sites and objects of the various indigenous groups around Western Australia.

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