(University of Queensland, Australia)

Keywords: cultural heritage indigenous standards

As a cultural heritage practitioner working in Queensland, Australia, I am often frustrated by the lack of a reliable and exhaustive central archive and database of indigenous cultural heritage sites and previous archaeological investigations. While an Aboriginal cultural heritage database and register does exist, the state legislative framework does not require the registration of identified sites within the database. The legislative framework leaves the onus on indigenous communities as recognised custodians of a site to decide if a site should be registered. More often than not, sites are not registered. The result is a database that is fragmentary and wholly unreliable; those sites that are recorded are not recorded in any detail. Queensland’s legislation is simply inadequately designed to protect the cultural heritage, it is instead used more as a social mechanism for empowering Aboriginal communities. I will argue in this paper that a different legislative framework is required to adequately protect and manage Australia’s indigenous cultural heritage for future generations of ALL humanity.