|Description of this FunctionDescription of this Function|
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 and makes the buying and selling of relics or the possession or display of Aboriginal skeletal remains to be an offence in certain circumstances.
The Minister for Planning and Environment (VRG 65) had responsibility for state archaeological functions from 1983 until 1990. Developmental work in the area of aboriginal archaeology was funded through the grants process administered by the Aboriginal Affairs Unit during this time. 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 16 skeletal remains were returned to local aboriginal communities and relevant interstate authorities.
The Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1987 provides Commonwealth protection for 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.
From April to May 1990 the newly commissioned Minister for Aboriginal Affairs 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 where it currently remains.
Until 1993 all State archaeological functions were administered together. In 1993 the administration of the aboriginal archaeological function was separated from the administration of maritime and historic (post-European settlement) archaeology (see archaeology survey (maritime and historic)). The function of archaeological survey (aboriginal) has remained with the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and the Aboriginal Affairs Unit (Aboriginal Affairs Victoria.
Local communities recognised under the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 and representing group interests have responsibility for Aboriginal cultural heritage in their defined areas. The AAV Regional Cultural Heritage Program places each community within one of five regions. Regional bodies, though having no status under current legislation, act as resource bodies within their regions.