The South Australian Government is considering amending the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 (SA) to:

  • increase penalties for breaches
  • clarify the reporting requirements where Aboriginal sites, objects and remains (together, heritage) are discovered.

The Amendment Bill is currently open for public consultation.

While we are keen to hear from a wide range of community members and industry stakeholders, we are especially interested to hear from our First Nations peoples about the proposed changes.

How have we got here?

These changes are being proposed in line with a national movement to strengthen Aboriginal heritage protection.

The national initiative represents a major commitment to harmonise and strengthen Aboriginal heritage protection laws across Australia.

As a key stakeholder participating in this national reform process, the South Australian government is not seeking to introduce major changes to the South Australian legislation before this process is complete.

However, some immediate changes to the South Australian Act are required.

About the Amendment Bill

The Amendment Bill will:

  • strengthen Aboriginal heritage protection in South Australia through increased and enhanced penalty provisions under the Act. These changes are consistent with reforms recommended following the destruction of irreplaceable Aboriginal rock art at Juukan Gorge that assessed all state and territory heritage protection legislation as deficient.
  • respond to the Supreme Court’s reasoning in Dare v Kelaray, by clarifying that:
    • discoveries of Aboriginal heritage must be reported to the Minister, even where the person making the discovery holds an authorisation under the Act
    • authorisations may be granted to classes of persons and cover all Aboriginal heritage in an area, whether known or unknown.

Have your say

The proposed changes are open for public consultation until 10am, Thursday 6 April 2023.

Visit YourSAy to read a summary of the proposed change, view the draft Bill and the consolidated Act with mark-ups, as well as to provide your feedback.