The Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council (Council) was created under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (Act) to ensure that Traditional Owners throughout Victoria play a central role in the protection and management of their heritage.
Our vision is of a community that understands and respects Aboriginal cultural heritage and the cultural responsibilities of Traditional Owners.
The Council is up to 11 Traditional Owners who are appointed by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. All members are resident in Victoria, and have extensive knowledge and experience in cultural heritage management.
What we do
Make decisions on Registered Aboriginal Party applications
Since our establishment in 2006, we have appointed 10 Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs). RAPs are organisations that hold decision-making responsibilities under the Act for protecting Aboriginal cultural heritage in a specified geographical area.
Since 1 August 2016, we are responsible for overseeing and supervising the operations of RAPs. We are currently designing its approach to this work in collaboration with RAPs and with organisations already involved in monitoring RAPs.
Protect Ancestors’ resting places and return Ancestors to Country
Since 1 August 2016 we are the central coordinating body responsible for Ancestral Remains in Victoria. Over time, this new role will allow the Council to strengthen the protection of Aboriginal burial places and deliver better support for Traditional Owners returning Ancestors to Country.
Secret or sacred objects in Victoria
There are also new obligations for Aboriginal objects that are secret or sacred. A person who has custody of an Aboriginal object that is a secret or sacred object but who is not the owner of that object must, as soon as practicable, take all reasonable steps to transfer the object into the custody of the Council.
Manage the Victorian Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Fund
The first Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Fund in Victoria was established on 1 August 2016. We will be responsible for managing this Fund and hope to build up and use the Fund for initiatives to protect Aboriginal cultural heritage.
Promote understanding and awareness
Our work includes promoting understanding and awareness of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria. We do this through partnerships and consulting with key stakeholders, making submissions to reviews of legislation and policy that impact on Aboriginal cultural heritage, and participating in external committees and reference groups.
Provide advice to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and the Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet
We provide advice to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs both voluntarily and on request, on the protection and management of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria.
We also advise the Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet on establishing standards and fee guidelines for consultation fees payable to RAPs by sponsors when preparing Cultural Heritage Management Plans (CHMPs) and assessments, and using his powers in relation to Cultural Heritage Permits, CHMPs and agreements.
Report to the Minister
From 1 August 2016, we must report to the Minister annually and produce a State of Victoria’s Aboriginal Cultural Heritage report every five years.