Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council

The Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council (Council) was created under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (Word 240 KB) (Act) to ensure that Traditional Owners throughout Victoria play a central role in the protection and management of their heritage.

Our vision is of a community that understands and respects Aboriginal cultural heritage and the cultural responsibilities of Traditional Owners.

The Council consists of up to 11 Traditional Owners who are appointed by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.  All members are resident in Victoria and have extensive knowledge and and have relevant experience or knowledge of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria.

Learn about the individual members by reading the Council member biographies (PDF 674.1 KB).

What we do

Make decisions on Registered Aboriginal Party applications

Since our establishment in 2006, we have appointed 10 Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs).

RAPs are organisations that hold decision-making responsibilities under the Act for protecting Aboriginal cultural heritage in a specified geographical area. Read about the RAP applications currently before Council or RAP applications declined or withdrawn.

Oversee RAP Operations

Since 1 August 2016, we are responsible for overseeing and supervising the operations of RAPs. We are currently designing our approach to this work in collaboration with RAPs and with organisations already involved in monitoring RAP operations.

Protect Ancestors’ resting places and return Ancestors to Country

Aboriginal Ancestral Remains are of high cultural significance to Aboriginal people. It is not only of paramount importance to treat our Ancestors with respect but, to be mindful of legislative requirements.

Since 1 August 2016, we are the central coordinating body responsible for Ancestral Remains in Victoria. Over time, this new role will allow the Council to strengthen the protection of Aboriginal burial places and deliver better support for Traditional Owners returning Ancestors to Country.

Promote reporting of the discovery of human remains

If any human remains are discovered, they must be reported to the Coroner - Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (1300 309 519).

A forensic anthropologist will assess the report and contact the Council if the human remains are believed to be Aboriginal Ancestral Remains. Alternatively, you can contact Victoria Police (000).

Receive reports of Aboriginal Ancestral Remains

Under section 17 of the Act, any person who knows of the existence and location of what they reasonably believe to be Aboriginal Ancestral Remains must, as soon as practicable, report their existence to the Council.

Read more about your responsibilities to report or protect Aboriginal Ancestral Remains. 

If you have any questions about Aboriginal Ancestral Remains or would like to make a report, please contact Odetta Moore, Acting Manager, Ancestral Remains Unit on 9651 6880 or 0437 956 520 or at odetta.moore@dpc.vic.gov.au

Promote obligations regarding Secret or sacred objects in Victoria

There are also new obligations for persons and entities with respect to secret or sacred objects. A Traditional Owner of a secret or sacred object held or controlled by a university, museum or other institution may negotiate directly with these entities for the return of these objects.

A person who has custody of an Aboriginal object that is a secret or sacred object but who is not the owner of that object must, as soon as practicable, take all reasonable steps to transfer the object into the custody of the Council.

Secret and sacred objects are also of high cultural significance to Aboriginal people.

Read more about the Secret or Sacred Aboriginal objects (Word 53 KB) or download the form to report a secret or sacred object (Word 58.5 KB)

If you have any questions about secret or sacred objects, please contact Janine Major, Transition Project Manager on 03 8392 5391 or janine.major@dpc.vic.gov.au.

Manage the Victorian Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Fund

The first Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Fund in Victoria was established on 1 August 2016.  We will be responsible for managing this Fund and hope to build up and use the Fund for initiatives to protect Aboriginal cultural heritage.

Promote understanding and awareness

Our work includes promoting understanding and awareness of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria. We do this through partnerships and consulting with key stakeholders, making submissions to reviews of legislation and policy that impact on Aboriginal cultural heritage, and participating in external committees and reference groups.

Provide advice to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and the Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet

We provide advice to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs both voluntarily and on request, on the protection and management of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria.

We also advise the Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet on establishing standards and fee guidelines for consultation fees payable to RAPs by sponsors when preparing Cultural Heritage Management Plans (CHMPs) and assessments, and the use of his powers in relation to Cultural Heritage Permits, CHMPs and agreements.

Report to the Minister

From 1 August 2016, we must report to the Minister annually and produce a State of Victoria’s Aboriginal Cultural Heritage report every 5 years

More information about the Council

The Council is guided by its Strategic Plan 2017-2021 (Word 3.12 MB) | Strategic Plan 2017-2021 (PDF 3.57 MB)

The plan was launched on 7 September 2017 and is Council's fourth strategic plan.

Visit the Council Publications and Fact Sheets page to view Council's strategic plans from 2008-2011, 2011-2014 and 2014-2019.

Latest News

November 2017

Council publishes its Edition 8 Newsletter (PDF 877.03 KB) | Edition 8 Newsletter (Word 1.55 MB)

11 September

Council publishes its reasons for the decision to appoint Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation as a RAP (PDF 414 KB)

7 September

Council publishes it's fourth Strategic Plan 2017-2021 (Word 3.12 MB) | Strategic Plan 2017-2021 (PDF 3.57 MB)

10 August

Council publishes its reasons appointing Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation for part of its application area

19 July

Council appoints Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation for part of its application area (Word 294 KB)

15 June

Council publishes its reasons for declining the RAP application from Wadi Wadi Wemba Wamba Barapa Barapa First Nations Aboriginal Corporation (Word 61.1 KB)

26 May

Council holds its 10 year anniversary event and releases edition 7 of its biannual newsletter (PDF 2.8 MB)

24 May

Council appoints Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation for part of its application area.

5 May

Council receives a RAP application from Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (PDF 422.86 KB)

April 2017

Council publishes its

March 2017

Council declines the RAP application from Wadi Wadi Wemba Wamba Barapa Barapa First Nations Aboriginal Corporation (Word 42.14 KB).

24 February 2017

Council receives a RAP application from Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation and welcomes public comments on the application.

Visit Council's Publications and Fact Sheets page which hosts Council's discussion papers, reports, fact sheets and submissions to legislative and policy reviews.

Applications currently before Council

Applications declined or withdrawn

Read the applications to become a Registered Aboriginal Party that have been declined by the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council or have been withdrawn.

Contact the Council

You can contact the Council via the Council's Secretariat by:

Mail: 1 Treasury Place, EAST MELBOURNE VIC 3002
Email:vahc@dpc.vic.gov.au
Tel: (03) 9651 2643
Fax: (03) 8392 5399


Last updated on Wednesday, 08 November 2017