The consultation process regarding Aboriginal heritage places in Wiradjuri Country

Supervisor: Dr. Dirk H.R. Spennemann



In looking into the perceptions of Indigenous people in relation to consultation and the protection and preservation of Indigenous cultural heritage, the literature reviewed has indicated that Indigenous people have been left out of the consultation process more times than they have been included. Whilst the research has shown that these authors have recognised the need for Indigenous people to be included in that process, the research also highlights the fact that there is not much written about the concerns of Indigenous people, or their perceptions, regarding consultation.

Many Indigenous people perceive most research, past or present, in relation to themselves, as being ineffective, as a waste of time and money, because it was undertaken without their knowledge and consent, and in consultation with the wrong people. Whilst governments have put in place Aboriginal Land Councils, research has found that in most cases, Indigenous people feel that these are not representative of the people. They are perceived as being imposed by governments that are out of touch with the wishes and concerns of Elders and the traditional custodians of their respective parts of country. This research has shown that the Elders, traditional people, and knowledge holders are the appropriate people to speak with.

However, the perceptions of the Indigenous people who participated in the research, are that they are not included, but are e excluded from many consultation processes. Policies have been, and are sill written, without taking into account the wishes, and concerns, of the appropriate Indigenous people. Many sites have been destroyed, or otherwise impacted upon, even though legislation has been designed to protect them. As this statement is true, and research has shown that it is, then the perceptions of the respondents, that legislation is not adequate enough, must also be true.

Having consultation formulated as some kind of legal process however may not provide the answer, according to research. Whilst consultation is sometimes seen to be adequate by some, inadequate by others, the perceptions are that it must take place if Indigenous sites are to have any chance of being protected.

A current development activity was used as a case study for this thesis. The perceptions of the case study participants were used to compare, support, or refute those of the respondents. In this instance, the comparisons were very similar and they supported the respondents in most areas.

This research has shown that Indigenous people are willing to consult with the appropriate non-Indigenous stakeholders, but with a few provisos. All consultation must take place with the appropriate Indigenous people, be an honest and open process, be informal, and take into account the wishes and concerns of the Indigenous people. This, according to the respondents, is effective consultation.