The framework: Guidelines for the new Western Australian Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021 have officially been released
As of 1 July 2023, the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021 Statutory Guidelines (Guidelines) have been released under the new Western Australian Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021 (the Act). These Guidelines are part of the three phase co-design process to strengthen the WA Aboriginal cultural heritage framework.
Read our previous article on the introduction of the Western Australian Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act:
Mandatory due diligence assessment
The Guidelines reflect section 10 of the Act, in which Aboriginal cultural heritage is to be preserved and prioritised when managing activities on Country. In line with this, the Guidelines set out how the mandatory due diligence assessment (DDA) is to be used to determine whether Aboriginal cultural heritage is present in the area and whether there is any risk of damage to Aboriginal cultural heritage if the proposed activity were to be carried out.
There are exemptions to the DDA obligation that may apply and it should be noted that undertaking a detailed DDA must be in compliance with Guidelines. Further, a DDA is not an approval of harm, but undertaking a DDA in accordance with the Guidelines may be used as a defence under the Act (s 98). The important point here is that the Guidelines and the Act requires consultation with the relevant native title party, local Aboriginal knowledge holders or local Aboriginal community.
The Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage have also released a number of other guidelines, fact sheets and flowcharts, including a Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Survey Report Guidelines (Survey Guidelines). Under these Survey Guidelines, heritage surveys that have been undertaken under the previous Act, may only be relied on for the purposes of a DDA if they meet the standards set out in the Survey Guidelines, noting the latest a previous survey can be dated, even if it meets the requirements of the Survey Guidelines, is 1 January 2013.
Transitionary provisions - approvals under the former act
The Act replaces the former ‘Section 18’ process under the former legislation with a tiered approach, where activities that involve moderate to high level ground disturbance is considered a Tier 3 which will require an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management Plan to be negotiated with the relevant Aboriginal parties. This includes a new mine site, deep excavation or land clearing, subdivisions or major construction projects. There are transitional provisions under Part 14, Division 2, Sub-division 3 of the Act, that allow works substantially undertaken to continue under previously granted Section 18 and Section 16 approvals. However, these approvals can be cancelled or suspended if new information comes to light.
New point of law: What can be considered as a protected document?
A look at Environment Protection Authority v Sydney Water Corporation  NSWLEC 119.
Applications to replace trustees in bankruptcy: Insights for trustees from the bankrupt estate of Salim Mehajer
By Marelda Hibberd & Michael Wells
The Court’s judgment and insights to assist trustees navigate difficult estates and deal with recalcitrant bankrupts.
Australian Modern Slavery Act Review: what you need to know and how you can prepare
By Sonia Sharma, Chloe Tutt, Javvad Jaffry, Colin Yuan
Our anti-modern slavery compliance experts outline some of the key recommendations from the Report.
Stormy weather delays Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard
Global regulators out of sync on Microsoft's $69 billion purchase of video game giant.