State Parliamentary Inquiry into the VAHC & RAP operations

Victorians to have their say on Registered Aboriginal Parties

vicnats.com 16 February 2011

Communities and stakeholders will have their say about the effectiveness of Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPS) and their management of cultural heritage under a new Parliamentary Inquiry announced today by the Victorian Coalition Government.

Outlining the terms of reference for the inquiry, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Jeanette Powell said a key responsibility of RAPs was the management and protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage in accordance with the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006.

The Act, which aims to give Traditional Owners greater control over cultural heritage in their country, is scheduled for review by May 2012.

"The Parliamentary Inquiry will provide information that will help in the review of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006," Mrs Powell said.

"It is important to examine whether the RAPs system is working well for Indigenous Victorians, to ensure any amendments to the Act reflect the needs and aspirations of the community."

Mrs Powell said the Environment and Natural Resources Committee of Parliament would conduct the inquiry and consider all input to understand what has been working well and what improvements could continue to be made.

"A Parliamentary Inquiry is a very open and accessible way for people to have their say, and to help shape the future of Victoria," Mrs Powell said.

"The Environment and Natural Resources Committee will meet to establish the process for public submissions and will make announcements via the Parliament of Victoria website."

Findings from the inquiry and associated recommendations will be tabled in Parliament before 30 September 2011. For more information about Parliamentary inquiries, visit www.parliament.vic.gov.au

RAP appointments are made by the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council, which is an independent advisory body of 11 Traditional Owners from all parts of the state.

There are currently nine RAPs in Victoria.

Terms of Reference

There are three considerations that make up the terms of reference for the Parliamentary Inquiry into the establishment and effectiveness of RAPs:

1. Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council policies in relation to the appointment of RAPs, including the factors that should be taken into account by the Council in making decisions such as: (i) the degree to which traditional ownership is contested in the area of the subject of an application;
(ii) the impact that decisions may have on the community;
(iii) the capacity of the applicant to fulfil legislative responsibilities if appointed; and
(iv) the process used to determine and identify the successful RAP.

2. The support available to the Council in making decisions about the appointment of RAPs, including: (i) membership and structure of the Council; and
(ii) Council's capacity to inquire into matters relevant to applications, including supporting applicants to provide information needed to fully assess applications.

3. The effectiveness of the established RAPs to perform their duties under the Act.