|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
Establishment and overview of administrative arrangements
The Archaeological and Aboriginal Relics Office was established under the provisions of the Archaeological and Aboriginal Relics Preservation Act 1972 within the Chief Secretary's Department (VA 475). In 1975 the agency was transferred to the newly established Ministry for Conservation (VA 551) and its name changed to the Victoria Archaeological Survey.
In 1983 further co-ordination of government regulation of land use was achieved when functions relating to environment protection and various "heritage protection" functions including archaeological survey were added to the Planning portfolio (VRG 65). The Ministry for Planning and Environment (VA 1024) was established to play a co-ordinating role and the Victoria Archaeological Survey was transferred to the ambit of this agency.
From April to May 1990 the newly commissioned Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (VRG 58) had responsibility for state archaeological functions. Responsibility for these functions was then transferred to the Minister for Conservation and Environment (VRG 94) until February 1992 when it was transferred back to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.
The administration of the closely related "aboriginal" and "maritime/historic" archaeological functions was split in 1993 when the aboriginal archaeology function remained with Aboriginal Affairs, Victoria (VA 3101) and the Victoria Archaeological Survey, with responsibility for maritime and historic archaeology, was transferred back to the Planning portfolio (VRG 65).
The Victoria Archaeological Survey is the State government authority entrusted with the legal protection and responsible investigation of Victoria's archaeological heritage. From 1993 Aboriginal Affairs, Victoria (VA 3101) has responsibility for aboriginal archaeology.
Maritime and Historic Archaeological Survey and Aboriginal Archaeological Survey
The maritime and historic archaeology function encompasses the location, recording and protection of shipwrecks/maritime archaeology and post European settlement archaeological relics under the provisions of both State and Commonwealth legislation. The Aboriginal archaeology function encompasses the location, recording and protection of aboriginal prehistory and archaeological relics also under both State and Commonwealth legislation.
The Archaeological and Aboriginal Relics Preservation Act 1972 provides for the preservation of archaeological and aboriginal relics. It enables the Governor-in-Council to declare land to be an archaeological area for the preservation of relics therein; establishes an Archaeological Relics Advisory Committee to advise the Minister on all matters it thinks necessary in relation to archaeological relics and the preservation of those relics; provides for the buying and selling of relics or the possession or display of Aboriginal skeletal remains to be an offence in certain circumstances.
The Historic Shipwrecks Act 1981 provides for the protection of historic shipwrecks and relics pertaining thereto; establishes a Historic Shipwrecks Advisory Committee to advise the Minister; enables the Minister by notice published in the Government Gazette to declare shipwrecks and relics to be historic and to declare an area to be a protected zone; provides for a Register of Historic Shipwrecks.
The Victorian Government has delegated authority under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 [Commonwealth]. This act is similar to the Victorian Act but for Commonwealth waters off Victoria.
The Victorian Government also acts as a consultant under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1987. This Act provides a means for the Commonwealth to protect significant Aboriginal areas and objects where existing State laws do not provide effective protection and enables the Commonwealth Minister for Aboriginal Affairs to make declarations in respect to those areas and objects after consultation with the relevant State Minister.
These functions are administered under both State and Commonwealth legislation.
During the 1980s the Victoria Archaeological Survey operated within the same division of the Ministry of Planning and Environment (VA 1024) as the Aboriginal Affairs Unit. At this time developmental work in the area of aboriginal archaeology was funded through the grants process administered by the Aboriginal Affairs Unit (VA 3101). Particular emphasis was placed on involving and training Aborigines in the work of the Victoria Archaeological Survey.
Cultural Awareness officers within Aboriginal Co-operatives throughout the State were trained and funded, as was the Regional Site Officer scheme for training Aborigines in archaeological investigation and analysis, cultural resource management and community liaison.
Two committees were established in 1985 to advise whether Aboriginal skeletal remains should be preserved for scientific value or be reburied. They were the Aboriginal Affairs Committee which advised the Museum of Victoria Council on material in state collections and the Skeletal sub-committee of the Aboriginal Relics Advisory Committee which advised the Secretary for Planning and Environment on the holding and disposition of skeletal remains. In 1988-89 sixteen skeletal remains were returned to local aboriginal communities and relevant interstate authorities.
Location of Records
No records of this agency have been transferred to the Public Record Office.