Call for review of protection of ancient Aboriginal sites in Western Australia

In a call for a review of the protection of ancient Aboriginal sites in Western Australia, the battle between big business and precious ancient cultural landmarks have locked horns once again.

We reported on the clash between gas prospectors and mining industry and Aboriginal cultural sites in Australia recently. All over the world, precious historical artefacts and their habitats are being quietly destroyed by heavy industry. Once destroyed, they can never come back.

The Guardian newspaper reports: Australian Labor and the Greens are calling for an urgent review of 22 formerly heritage-listed Aboriginal sacred sites after a landmark judgment in the supreme court of Western Australia found that the definition of a sacred site being used by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs was invalid.

Justice John Chaney ruled in the supreme court on Wednesday that a decision by the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee (ACMC) to remove a sacred site in Port Hedland from the state’s cultural heritage register was based on a misconstruction of the Aboriginal Heritage Act and should be reviewed.

The site in question is Marapikurrinya Yintha, a body of water that includes the harbour at Port Hedland as well as mangrove flats and creeks that feed into the harbour.

It is sacred to the Marapikurrinya and Kariyarra people as a home of the Warlu, or rainbow serpent, and was registered in 2008 in accordance with section five of the Aboriginal Heritage Act, which allows for the protection of “any sacred, ritual or ceremonial site, which is of importance and special significance to persons of Aboriginal descent”.

Read more here.

Simon Ludgate
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