Both the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (EP) Act and the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (AH Act) have the legal capacity to consider aspects of Aboriginal heritage. The EPA recognises the specialist expertise of DAA in Aboriginal matters and that DAA has primary responsibility for considering those matters. The focus of the AH Act is the protection of sites with social and heritage significance. A primary focus of the EP Act is to consider proposals which have the potential to have a significant effect on the environment.
The EP Act allows for the consideration of actual physical impacts as well as social impacts. The EP Act can, in some instances, complement the AH Act, for example, in cases where actual physical protection of the environment is required to protect sites of heritage significance. The EP Act can also give attention to matters of a social nature, such as traditional hunting activities, by providing for the retention of habitat for native fauna to enable those activities to continue.
The content of this advice has not been updated to reflect the EPA’s revised policy framework.