Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 establishes the National Heritage List, which includes natural, Indigenous and historic places that are of outstanding heritage value to the nation. Under the EPBC Act there are penalties for anyone who takes an action that has or will have a significant impact on the Indigenous heritage values of a place that is recognised in the National Heritage List.
The Act also establishes the Commonwealth Heritage List, which includes places on Commonwealth lands and waters or under Australian Government control that have Indigenous heritage significance.
- Find out more about the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 enables the Australian Government to respond to requests to protect traditionally important areas and objects that are under threat, if it appears that state or territory laws have not provided effective protection. The government can make special orders, called declarations, to protect significant Aboriginal areas, objects and classes of objects from threats of injury or desecration. The government cannot make a declaration unless an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person (or a person representing an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person) has requested it and has provided satisfactory evidence of a body of traditions, customs, observances and beliefs that explains, firstly, why there is a threat of injury or desecration and, secondly, why the area, object or class of objects is of particular significance to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people. The power to make declarations is meant to be used as a last resort, after the relevant processes of the state or territory have been exhausted.
A departmental guide to the Act is also available.
- Introduction to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act (PDF - 179 KB) | (Word - 136 KB)
The Australian Government is currently reforming this legislation to improve the effectiveness of Indigenous heritage protection across the country.
- Find out more about the reform of Indigenous heritage protection laws
Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act
The Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986 includes legislation that prevents objects of cultural heritage significance, such as those that are sacred to Indigenous people's heritage, from being exported out of Australia. This helps to ensure these special objects, important to our Indigenous heritage, are not lost to the nation.
- Find out more about movable cultural heritage laws
Protection under state and territory laws
All states and territories have legislation that provides blanket protection to Indigenous archaeological sites.
- find out more about Indigenous heritage protection under state and territory laws
- Australian Heritage Week
- Public notices
- Asia-Pacific Focal Point
- Australia's dinosaurs
- Managing Commonwealth heritage places
- Australian Heritage Council
- Australian Heritage Places Inventory (AHPI)
- Australian Heritage Database
- Australian Heritage Information
- Export permits
- Indigenous heritage
- Place managers network
- Historic Shipwrecks Program factsheet
- Patrimonito Storyboard competition
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