Aboriginal Cultural Heritage

Main Roads Western Australia has adopted the approaches and processes associated with the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021 (ACH Act) and Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Regulations 2022 (Regulations) which commenced on 1 July 2023.

Our Aboriginal cultural heritage (ACH) processes ensure we comply with the key principles and requirements of the ACH Act and Regulations to appropriately manage activities that may harm ACH.

By recognising and acknowledging the importance of ACH to Aboriginal people and their cultural authority we value their advice, guidance and informed consent on the management of ACH.

In accordance with the ACH Act our approach is to avoid or minimise harm to ACH and consult with Aboriginal people on how their ACH is preserved and protected.

Where harm to ACH is unavoidable we undertake further ACH investigations and consultations with Aboriginal people and we endeavour to take all reasonable steps to mitigate and reduce any harm.

Our proposed activities are subject to a robust Due Diligence Assessment in accordance with the ACH Management Code and where it is determined that an activity is a tier 2 and 3 activity that may harm ACH the appropriate authority and approval is sought from each Local Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Service (LACHS) provider in the activity area.  If there is no LACHS for the activity area we will notify and consult with each native title party and each knowledge holder for the area. If neither of the above is applicable we will notify and consult directly with each native title representative body for the area.

Our approach is to engage and consult early in the project planning stage to avoid harm to ACH and to consider alternative options, locations and designs for proposed activities. We liaise with the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage on key aspects and requirements under the ACH Act such as Protected Areas and ACH Management Plans.

An ACH Permit is sought for a tier 2 activity and an ACH Management Plan is prepared in consultation with the LACH for a tier 3 activity. Approvals for an ACH Permit and ACH Management Plan are made by application to the ACH Council which is a majority Aboriginal council to assess and approve permits and management plans.

We are signatories to three native title settlement Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) and associated government standard heritage agreements: Noongar Standard Heritage Agreement (NSHA), Esperance Nyungar Government Standard Heritage Agreement (ENGSHA) and the Yamatji Nation Government Standard Heritage Agreement (YNGSHA). These standard heritage agreements cover areas of 23,000 square kms (NSHA), 48,000 square kms (ENGSHA) and 29,000 square kms (YNGSHA).

The government standard heritage agreements recognise the importance of preservation and protection of Aboriginal heritage and form a key part of the settlement ILUAs in the South West and Metropolitan regions, Esperance Goldfields regions and Mid-West region.

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 A culturally modified (scarred) tree and a boomerang found during a field survey

Native Title

As a land user we act in compliance with our legal obligations under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cwth) (NTA). Our processes ensure that our obligations are met in a thorough and timely manner early in the planning phase for a proposed activity, providing notification under the Future Acts provisions of the NTA to the native title holders and their representatives and receiving comment and feedback. We establish and maintain positive relationships with native title holders and their representative organisations (Prescribed Body Corporates (PBCs) and Native Title Representative Body (Land Councils).

Historic Heritage

Historic heritage sites (sometimes referred to a European Sites), are locations or objects that are deemed to be significant due to their aesthetic, historic, scientific or social attributes.

Historic places include buildings, gardens, structures (including bridges), industrial sites and cemeteries. Historic places in Western Australia are protected by the Heritage Act 2018 (Heritage Act).

The processes we follow ensure we fully comply with the Heritage Act and government administrative requirements such as the Government Heritage Property Disposal Process.

We undertake historic heritage surveys during the planning process to determine potential impacts our activities may have on the State’s heritage and how these impacts can be minimised or avoided.

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 Narrows Bridge under construction during 1960-61

Acknowledgement of country

The Government of Western Australia acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.

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