Are we there yet? A review of proposed Aboriginal cultural heritage laws in New South Wales, Australia

Publication Name

International Journal of Cultural Property


This article examines the extent to which a recent law reform initiative in New South Wales (NSW), Australia - the draft Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2018 (NSW) - advances the general principles outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The examination reveals some improvements on the current legal framework and some concerning proposals that distance the NSW government from the UNDRIP principles. Key concerns include a proposed transfer of administrative responsibility to Aboriginal bodies with no corresponding guarantee of funding; the continued vesting of key decision-making powers in government; inept provisions for the protection of secret knowledge; and lower penalties for harming cultural heritage than for related offences in existing environmental and planning legislation. Given the bill's weaknesses, the article explores pragmatic alternatives to better advance the UNDRIP principles.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access



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