Cultural Heritage Management Plans
Cultural Heritage Management Plans are State approved agreements between the Aboriginal Party and the Sponsor that outlines a process for which the Parties agree to implement to manage the proposed activities to avoid harm to Aboriginal cultural heritage.
A Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP) is outlined in Part 7 of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003 and is triggered by the requirement of an Environmental Impact Statement, Environmental Assessment or plan under any other authority in Queensland. A Cultural Heritage Management Plan is meant to guide planning activities and provide direction to a project for the Sponsor, just as any other assessment.
A Cultural Heritage Management Plan in Queensland is viewed as a statutory triggered “compulsory agreement”.
Once a Cultural Heritage Management Plan has been negotiated and finalized between the Parties, it is submitted to the Cultural Heritage Coordination Unit, within the Department of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander & Multicultural Affairs (DATSIMA) for approval by the Minister (representatives) and registered on the State register.
Cultural Heritage Management Plan can also be developed voluntarily between the Parties. This is an important aspect of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003, in that is supports and encourages voluntary agreements between the Parties. Often voluntary agreements are referred to as Cultural Heritage Management Agreements that take on the same purpose and intent of a compulsory agreement under Part 7 of the Act.
A Cultural Heritage Management Plan between the Sponsor and Aboriginal Party (or Aboriginal Parties) provides greater surety around process, accountability, responsibility, implementation and the confidence that the Sponsor has met the principle of a Duty of Care and requirements under the Act.
It is important to note at this point that where there are overlapping Aboriginal Parties for an area over which a Sponsor is seeking to enter into a Cultural Heritage Management Plan, the Sponsor must notify each Aboriginal Party. Where each Aboriginal Party has responded to the notification seeking endorsement, the Sponsor must seek to reach agreement with each endorsed Aboriginal Party.
The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003 requires that the Sponsor undertake a notification process using both a advertised public notice and a written notice issued to the registered Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Body (or Bodies) for the area. Where there is no registered Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Body, then the written notice should be issued to the contact for the proposed Aboriginal Party (e.g. legal representative for the registered native claim). If there is no Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Body, or registered claim, then speak to the Cultural Heritage Coordination Unit, as a public notice may be all that is required.
Even though there are statutory timeframes for notification, response and negotiation of a Cultural Heritage Management Plan or Agreement under the Act, shorter or longer timeframes can be agreed between the Sponsor and the Aboriginal Party. For example after an Aboriginal Party has responded to a notification and been endorsed, the Sponsor and Aboriginal Party may agree that the Cultural Heritage Management Plan may be negotiated within or exceed the statutory three (3) months.
A voluntary agreement may also use the statutory timeframes as a guide.
A Cultural Heritage Management Plan is not about managing the Aboriginal Party, but managing the proposed activities to ensure that the activities do not harm Aboriginal cultural heritage.
A Cultural Heritage Management Plan should have a process that guides the activities, rather than foster a perception of managing the activity of the Aboriginal Party.
A Cultural Heritage Management Plan needs to be written in a way that is understandable by both the Sponsor and Aboriginal Party. The plan should also have both the Sponsor and Aboriginal Party heavily involved in developing the negotiated process, so that the plan, process and outcomes are not only owned by both Parties, but builds a working relationship between the Sponsor and Aboriginal Party that will assist greatly in ensuring a workable plan and address amicably any dispute issues that may arise.
A Cultural Heritage Management Plan should have a clearly articulated process to address the following best practice stages of planning and implementation.
Stage One: Background and Objectives
1. The nature of the project activities and the project area;
2. The objectives and principles agreed by the Parties that will guide both the Parties and the plan;
3. The roles and responsibilities of the Sponsor and Aboriginal Party to reach agreement, what agreement is reached and the implementation.
4. Creation of a joint Coordination Committee between the Sponsor and Aboriginal Party.
5. Dispute resolution process.
Stage Two: Identification and management of Aboriginal cultural heritage
1. An outline of how Aboriginal cultural heritage will be identified recorded and managed, including database search, desktop research of previous surveys or studies and the field survey requirements.
2. The terms and conditions around the use of Technical Assistants or Advisors (e.g archaeologists, carbon dating, lithic analysis).
3. Resource allocations and logistics for implementation of Stage Two.
4. Reporting requirements and review of survey regarding management requirements/recommendations, including any mitigation requirements.
5. Registration of finds.
Stage Three: Implementation of Management Requirements/Recommendations
1. Communication of management requirements/recommendations to contractors.
2. Mitigation Strategy (such as collection of surface finds, identification of no-go zones, sub-surface investigations (if required), re-location of finds.
3. Identified Monitoring areas/zones communicated, WH&S requirements addressed and Works Programs exchanged.
4. Cultural Heritage Site Inductions developed and delivered to contractors.
5. Review Implementation of Management requirements/recommendations.
Stage Four: Post Construction
1. Collecting the finds located during monitoring and construction and stored on project site.
2. Involvement of Aboriginal Party in post construction management of avoided sites.
3. Involvement of Aboriginal Party in signage and communication of public material re: Aboriginal cultural heritage in project area.
The Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs (DATSIMA) website has guidelines to assist Sponsors and Aboriginal Parties. The DATSIMA website also has a template Written Notice and Public Notice to assist Sponsors with how to structure a notification.