Last week the Midwest Aboriginal Ranger Program Team had the pleasure of visiting Whadjuk Country in Fremantle to participate in a forum about visions for the future of Aboriginal Heritage in Western Australia.
After a warm Welcome to Country by Professor and Noongar Traditional Owner Len Collard, presentations were delivered by individuals from all over Western Australia. A highlight was hearing from Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura Traditional Owners from Juukan Gorge and how they see the future of Aboriginal Heritage in their country.
It was also great to see representation from the Yamaji region. Archaeologist Annie Carson and Wajarri Traditional Owners Colin Hamelett presented the collaborative work they have been conducting with Ethical Engagement Consultancy at Weld Range. The National Heritage listed sites within Weld Range include Wilgie Mia and Little Wilgie Aboriginal Ochre Mines and are very significant sites for the Wajarri peoples.
Midwest Aboriginal Ranger Program Coordinator Bianca McNeair sat on the panel discussion alongside Geri Hayden from the Noongar and Bibbulmun Nation, Daniel Rowe from Goolarabooloo Country around the Broome area, Bruce Smith based in Laverton in the Goldfields region and Noel Nannup, respected Nyungar Elder who lives in Perth. All panel members gave their overview of the day and talked about their views on the changes to the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2020.
Minister Ben Wyatt addressed the forum and provided an overview of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2020 and also made himself available for questions from the audience. The current Aboriginal Heritage Act was established in 1972 and has had very few changes made to it in the past 48 years.
While there were many ongoing concerns raised about the protection of Aboriginal Heritage in Western Australia, the development of the Local Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Services (LACHS) will create space for Traditional Owners to speak for their own countries.
LACHS will play an active role in the management of cultural heritage through facilitating onsultation with relevant Aboriginal people, making and facilitating ACH Management Plans, providing evidence to the Council about ACH and its importance and constructing a plan on how to minimise harm.
More information about the Aboriginal Heritage Bill 2020 can be found on the Dept Planning Lands and Heritage website: https://consultation.dplh.wa.gov.au/aboriginal-heritage/aboriginal-heritage-bill-2020/