The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021 (ACH Act), came into effect from 1 July 2023. On the 8th August 2023, the State Government announced its decision to repeal the ACH Act and restore the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 1972, with amendments, including:

  • The newly formed Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Council will take on the role of the Committee established under the 1972 Act to make recommendations on Section 18 Notices to the Minister.
  • Proponents and Native Title parties will have the same right of review for Section 18 decisions via the State Administrative Tribunal, with clear timeframes and an ability for the Premier to call-in a decision of 'State significance', to act in the interests of all Western Australians.
  • When a Section 18 has been approved, a new requirement for the owner to notify the Minister of any new information about an Aboriginal site.

WALGA was not consulted on this decision, however the Premier has indicated that the Implementation Group, of which WALGA is a participant, will continue and that the group will work on the transition to the amended 1972 legislation.

The Aboriginal Heritage Legislation Amendments and Repeal Bill was introduced into the Parliament on 10 August.

From a Local Government perspective, the following points in the State Government's media statement regarding the repeal are relevant:

  • Local Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Services (LACHS) will not continue. Support will be provided to existing relevant Native Title groups, including the relevant prescribed body corporate, registered claimants or native title representative bodies.
  • There will be no requirement on landowners to conduct their own heritage survey.
  • There will be a 10-year plan to undertake heritage surveys of unsurveyed areas in “high priority” areas of the State.
  • The Section 18 process will be strengthened, with changes mainly impacting miners and Government.
  • Traditional Owners will have the same rights of appeal as those afforded to proponents in Section 18 processes. 

Please refer to the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage website for any updated information.
WALGA’s previous work throughout the development and implementation of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2021 is detailed below.

Educational Workshop

WALGA facilitated  a DPLH educational workshop for Local Governments on Wednesday 10 May 2023. The recording and presentation can be found on the links below;

Join the new Local Government Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Network
WALGA has launched an online Network to support Local Governments with the implementation of the ACH Act. The Network Group provides an online platform to share peer to peer advice and learnings, and to keep informed of emerging issues.

Membership is open to all Local Government staff. To join the Local Government Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Network, please send an email to

Monthly Drop-in Sessions 

In partnership with DPLH WALGA will be facilitating monthly online drop-in sessions for Local Governments to provide an opportunity for staff responsible for implementing and applying the new legislation to ask questions and seek advice directly from DPLH. First session as held on Wednesday 26 July 2023. A transcript of the questions and answers discussion will be made available was completed alongside the date of the next session. 

Previous consultation

Throughout 2022 a three-phase co-design process was undertaken by DPLH to develop a set of guidelines to support the ACH Act. WALGA conducted comprehensive consultation with the Local Government sector on the guidance materials supporting the legislation and made submissions during Phase One,  Phase Two and Phase Three .

A clear message from the consultation was that the ACH Act must balance the need to protect Aboriginal cultural heritage with the requirements for Local Government to deliver essential infrastructure works and emergency management activities efficiently and effectively to maintain public safety and comply with its other legislative responsibilities.

WALGA’s Advocacy Position: 3.1.3 Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2021 and South West Native Title Settlement (December 2022 – 393.8/2022)
Position Statement: WALGA acknowledges Noongar people as the traditional owners of the South West Region. Local Government is supportive of conserving and protecting the State’s Aboriginal cultural heritage.

WALGA supports the introduction of the ACH Act which will provide a modern framework for the recognition, protection, conservation and preservation of Aboriginal cultural heritage and recognises the fundamental importance of Aboriginal cultural heritage to Aboriginal people. The State Government must ensure that:
  1. The legislation balances the need to protect Aboriginal cultural heritage with the requirement for Local Government to undertake activities in a timely and affordable manner;
  2. The implementation and ongoing operation of the legislative system for the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage is adequately resourced to ensure that all parties have the capacity, capability and resources to discharge their statutory obligations; 80
  3. Support is provided to Local Governments to ensure that they have the resources, capacity and capability to comply with a complex legislative framework; and
  4. Local Governments have the ability to deliver essential infrastructure works and emergency activities efficiently and effectively in order to maintain public safety.
  5. Regional local Aboriginal people are actively engaged in the Local Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Services (LACHS) groups; and
  6. The various Prescribed Body Corporates (PBCs) be required to actively seek out local regional members to be included in the consultation and decision making process.