The cultural heritage of First Nations has not been adequately recognised, respected or protected by western law since Europeans arrived and the western laws today are still failing to provide necessary respect to First Nations and protection of their cultural heritage. This failure is a breach of our international law obligations, including under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which Australia has adopted.

The EDO strongly supports stand-alone NSW legislation that deals with the protection of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage – designed by First Nations for First Nations. Stand-alone legislation is long overdue, and it is unacceptable that NSW laws continue to facilitate damage and destruction of heritage at all – let alone under flora and fauna legislation.

For stand-alone legislation to be effective it must reflect Australia’s international legal obligations and be co-designed by First Nations from across NSW. First Nations must lead the development of a consultation process to ensure that it is conducted in a culturally appropriate manner and the views of all NSW First Nations communities are heard.