The Indigenous community has not been consulted on the government’s wilderness world heritage plan, and current legislation poses a threat to their cultural land, a leading Indigenous group believes.
On Saturday, the state government officially released its Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) Management Plan, which provided a framework for protecting natural and cultural values for up to seven years.
Environment Minister Matthew Groom said this was the first time the TWWHA management plan recognised the Aboriginal heritage of the land, but the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC) said they weren’t consulted in the process.
The organisation’s chief executive Heather Sculthorpe said the government had not undertaken a cultural assessment of the land before producing the final draft, ignoring calls from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
“They have not involved the Aboriginal community in the study, and they’ve appointed white consultants to engage the community,” she said.
However, Environment Minister Matthew Groom said there was no expectation by UNESCO that the cultural assessment would be completed before finalising the plan, and he understood the assessment’s tender was close to finalisation.
He said the cultural assessment of the TWWHA was being managed through the Aboriginal Heritage Council, and the TAC had declined a spot on the council.
Ms Sculthorpe said the government had postponed amendments to the Aboriginal Relics Act 1975, which would introduce legislation that would safeguard the protection of Aboriginal heritage.
“There’s art all over the South Coast Track, and the whole emphasis has been making it easier for tourists.”
Mr Groom said the government was moving forward on amendments to the Aboriginal Relics Act, with the Draft Aboriginal Relics Amendment Act released for public comment.