A Traditional Owner group is Western Australia is calling for the State Government to come back to the table to redesign a new Aboriginal heritage bill.

There has been increasing opposition to new heritage laws crafted by the Western Australian Government which are expected to get the green light considering Labor has control of the parliament.

There has been a spotlight on addressing heritage protections for First Nations sacred sites following the destruction of 46,000-year-old sacred rock shelters at Juukan Gorge in Western Australia by Rio Tinto in 2020.

The draft laws have been slammed by Traditional Owners and investors as being rushed and giving decision making power to the Government.

The Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation says Traditional Owners need the ability to say no to mining projects.

Doris Eaton is a Njamal and Pitjikarli woman, and YMAC Deputy Co-Chairperson for the Pilbara Region.

She says destruction of the Juukan Gorge rock shelters has been highlighted but its not the only site that has been destroyed.

The Fight Will Continue

Traditional Owners in Western Australia say they will continue to fight the State Government’s new heritage bill, even after the laws are passed.

Co-Chair of the First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance, Kado Muir says Traditional Owners will continue to fight back as always.

Doris Eaton says they will fight, because they are the ones affected by the bill.

Kado Muir says heritage laws around the country are more focused on granting permits to destroy country instead of protecting it.

The comment comes following an announced partnership between the Alliance and the Federal Government which is expected to see First Nations people have input on improving laws, policies and processes at a national level.

Co-Chair of the alliance, Kado Muir says if the standard can be set at a national level, states and territories may need to adhere to them.

(IMAGE) YMAC’s Deputy Co-Chairperson, Pilbara Region, Mrs Doris Eaton, addressing the press conference at Parliament House on 17 November 2021 (Courtesy of: Carolyn Betts)