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Publications - Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council

Council publications with in depth discussion on key topics.

10 Year Anniversary

May 2017

Aboriginal peoples of Victoria have fought for generations for recognition of their unique relationship with and custodianship of their lands. In May 2017, Council celebrated the anniversaries of two key milestones in the fight for Aboriginal recognition and self-determination.

On 27 May 1967, Australians voted overwhelmingly to amend the Constitution to include Aboriginal peoples in the census and to allow the Commonwealth to create laws for/about Aboriginal peoples.

On 28 May, the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 came into effect. The Act created the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council, the first statutory body in Victoria whose members must be Traditional Owners. 

The Council’s journey over these ten years has been challenging at times:

  • the Council was one of the subjects of a Parliamentary Inquiry undertaken by the previous Victorian Government in 2013
  • the Act was reviewed between 2012 and 2016
  • there was a judicial review of one of Council’s decisions in the Supreme Court.

Through these events, the Council’s integrity and sound decision making were affirmed. The Parliamentary Inquiry produced a positive report on the Council’s work. Amendments to the Act passed in 2016 gave the Council more responsibilities. And the judicial decision upheld the Council’s decision, endorsed the Council’s decision-making processes, and ordered costs in favour of the Council.

The Council’s work has also been significantly rewarding. Aboriginal cultural heritage is now managed by Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs) in more than fifty per cent of the state. We have a dedicated unit working for the return and protection of our Ancestors’ remains. And we are seeing greater recognition of Traditional Owners and their roles with respect to cultural heritage management.

These milestones could not have occurred without the commitment of so many people, those before us and those who walk alongside us today.

Eleanor Bourke
Council Member 2007-2018 

Download the milestone report:

Bringing our Ancestors Home: We will not be well until this is done

Recommendations for change June 2014

This paper was delivered in June 2014 and outlines Council’s advice to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs on how Victoria’s Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 should change in relation to Ancestral Remains.
Traditional Owners have always had responsibilities to their Ancestors and to burial sites. This paper recommends legislative responsibility be given to the Council to ensure the swift and respectful return and burial of Ancestral Remains.

In preparing these recommendations, Council analysed the current legislation, took account of members’ own experiences and sought input from Traditional Owners and other stakeholders about how the Act should change.

Download the Recommendations and Discussion Paper:

Reviewed 12 June 2019

Aboriginal Heritage Council