Why your voice will reshape Queensland’s cultural heritage laws

Why your voice will reshape Queensland’s cultural heritage laws

Opening Statement

The careless demolition of the Juukan Gorge site was felt in the hearts of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. As it crumbled, we lost over 46,000 years of Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) cultural heritage. Destruction of this nature cannot be allowed to happen again.

Sadly, for the past 18 years, there has been no drastic change to the Queensland cultural heritage laws that recognise, protect and conserve objects and places that hold cultural significance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

For the first time in history, the Queensland Government is doing a complete review of the Cultural Heritage Acts and are asking First Nations people to contribute to the review.

Legislative and non-legislative proposals are being put forward to increase the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in managing and protecting our cultural heritage. 

However, First Nations people should not blindly allow these proposals to be made without reviewing them. Therefore it’s crucial that First Nations people are involved with the review process.

What is the review?

The review will examine whether the Cultural Heritage Acts:

  • Are still operating as intended
  • Are achieving intended outcomes for Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people and other stakeholders in Queensland
  • Aligns with the Queensland Government’s broader objective to reframe the relationship with Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Are consistent with the current native title context
  • Complies with contemporary drafting standards

Read more about the review: qld.gov.au/CulturalHeritageActsReview

Cross Examination

Raising your voice (for and against)

For: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need to have their voices heard about how they would like to protect and manage their cultural heritage.

Against: Discussions about cultural heritage can resurface painful stories because parts of our country have very sad histories.

For: If we share our stories, our cultural heritage can be protected. Sharing our stories can also improve Queensland’s understanding of our resilience.

Indigenous inclusion in any new framework (for and against)

For: As the knowledge holders, it is essential that our methods and processes are included in any new framework.

Against: The review proposal is not prepared in a way that encourages or facilitates First Nations voices to be heard and the review time frame is unclear.

For: Regardless of its delivery, the review is an opportunity for First Nations people to educate the Queensland Government about the interconnectedness of stories, places, people, and environment.

Recognise intangible elements of cultural heritage (for and against)

For: Intangible cultural heritage should be included in the definition of significant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders area and objects because our intangible cultural heritage is integral to who we are as Indigenous people.

Against: This is the first time the Queensland Government will look at holistically mapping cultural heritage and they’ll do it with or without our inclusion.

For: If we don’t speak up, the Queensland Government and businesses with interests in amending cultural heritage laws will decide how to protect OUR important sites.

Closing Remarks

As First Nations people, we must contribute to the review of the Cultural Heritage Acts to protect our Aboriginal traditions and Ailan Kastoms.

If the Queensland Government wants to reframe its relationship with First Nations people, then it is critical they listen to how we want to protect our history.

The review is your chance to tell the department how you’d like your cultural heritage protected.

At Parallax Legal, we believe that the best outcomes are derived from bringing different perspectives together. We encourage this approach when reframing Queensland’s cultural heritage laws.

It’s time to get involved

To find out more visit qld.gov.au/CulturalHeritageActsReview

For enquiries, phone 1800 469 166 or email CHA_Review@dsdsatsip.qld.gov.au

 Consultation is open until 31 March 2022.