|Description of this FunctionDescription of this Function|
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 provided for the preservation of archaeological and aboriginal relics. It enabled the Governor-in-Council to declare land to be an archaeological area for the preservation of relics therein, established an Archaeological Relics Advisory Committee to advise the Minister on all matters it thought necessary in relation to archaeological relics and the preservation of those relics. The Act also made the buying and selling of relics and the possession or display of Aboriginal skeletal remains an offence in certain circumstances.
The Historic Shipwrecks Act 1981 provided for the protection of historic shipwrecks and relics pertaining thereto and established an Historic Shipwrecks Advisory Committee to advise the Minister. It enabled 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 and provided for a Register of Historic Shipwrecks.
The Victorian Government has delegated authority under the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976. This act is similar to the Victorian Act but relates to Commonwealth waters off Victoria.
Developments from 1993
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. By 1994, the Department of Planning and Development reported that the former Maritime and Historic Archaeology Unit had been integrated with the Heritage Branch of the Department to form Heritage Victoria within the Department of Planning and Development.
In 1995 the Heritage Act (No 93/1995) was passed with the goal of providing a consolidated legislative framework for the protection and conservation of places and objects of cultural heritage significance and the registration of such places and objects. This Act was to replace both the Historic Buildings Act 1981 and the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1981.
The 16 member Heritage Council was to be appointed by the Governor in Council on the advice of the Minister. These members were to be people with an interest and expertise in conservation rather than representatives of organisations. The exception was to be the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) which might submit a panel of three names from which the Minister would choose one representative. The Heritage Council and its Executive Director were to deal with the registration of all heritage sites, including historic shipwrecks and archaeological sites, on the Heritage Register and administer the provisions of the Heritage Act 1995 relating to maritime archaeology. A new Historic Shipwrecks Advisory Committee of 12 members, one a member of the Heritage Council to act as Chair, one a nominee of the Minister administering the Commonwealth Navigation Act 1912 and the others being persons with expertise in specified areas, was to be appointed to advise the Council on all matters pertaining to historic shipwrecks and other maritime sites.