Establishment of Recognised Aboriginal Representative Bodies (RARBs) is a key part of the changes to the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 (AHA), which was proclaimed on 17 October 2017.
Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) and Maralinga Tjarutja (MT) were granted RARB status at proclamation.
A RARB is an incorporated body that can enter into local heritage agreements with proponents to manage impacts on Aboriginal heritage. A RARB must be able to demonstrate that it can ascertain and represent the views of the relevant traditional owners in relation to the Aboriginal heritage within the RARB’s area of responsibility.
RARB appointments are approved by the State Aboriginal Heritage Committee, and may be for:
- a specified area of land
- a specified Aboriginal site or sites
- a specified Aboriginal object or objects
- specified Aboriginal remains.
A RARB may enter into local heritage agreements with land use proponents so that impacts to Aboriginal heritage are managed in culturally appropriate ways and in agreement with the traditional owners.
A local heritage agreement is an agreement under the Act between a land use proponent and a RARB that deals with the impact of the proponent’s activities on any Aboriginal heritage in the area covered by the agreement.
A local heritage agreement is submitted to the Premier, as the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation who may, if satisfied that the agreement satisfactorily deals with any heritage that may be in the relevant area, approve the agreement. Once approved, the Premier must grant an authorisation to the proponent to excavate the land or to damage, disturb or interfere with any objects or the remains on the condition that the proponent complies with the agreement. For more information about Local Heritage Agreements, see the Aboriginal Heritage Guideline 3 Local Heritage Agreements.
The State Aboriginal Heritage Committee may revoke or suspend the appointment of a RARB* if:
- the RARB is no longer able to ascertain and represent the views and knowledge of the traditional owners of the relevant area, site, object or remains
- the RARB has failed or refused, or is likely to fail or refuse, to perform a function under the Act
- the RARB has acted in a manner that is, in the Committee’s opinion, at variance with the objects of the Act.
* Only applies to RARBs appointed under sections 19B(9) and (10) of the AHA.
The Premier can revoke the appointment of a RARB for any reason he or she thinks fit and must consult with the State Aboriginal Heritage Committee before doing so.