The Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 requires maintenance of three registers:
- Register of Recognised Aboriginal Representative Bodies (RARBs)
- Register of Aboriginal Sites and Objects, part of the Central Archive.
- Register of Agreements
Information in these registers may be confidential and have legislative restrictions on its release and use. Maintaining the privacy of confidential information is vital to maintaining positive relationships with Aboriginal communities and other stakeholders.Breaches of confidentiality are subject to penalty under s10 and s35 of the AHA.
The Register of Recognised Aboriginal Representative Bodies (RARBs) is a public register listing of approved RARBs in South Australia. It is a first point of contact for land use proponents (e.g. miners, developers, government departments) and others looking to find out if a RARB has been appointed to speak for heritage in a particular part of the state.
The Register of Aboriginal Sites and Objects is part of the Central Archive. It contains information about Aboriginal heritage in the state. Information about Aboriginal heritage can be extremely sensitive, and there are legislative and cultural restrictions related to whether and how this information is shared. Cultural restrictions may be related to gender, age or cultural status. Sites may be restricted to those who have attained a specific status, or restricted to only those from a specific Aboriginal group or groups. Information about the location of sites and why they are significant may be confidential according to Aboriginal tradition. The Register of Aboriginal Sites and Objects is not an exhaustive record of all Aboriginal heritage sites in South Australia. As well as speaking to the relevant RARB, people seeking information about the location of Aboriginal sites in a project area can request a search of the Register of Aboriginal Sites and Objects.
The Register of Agreements is closed to the public. The Aboriginal Heritage Regulations specify that an agreement on the Register for Agreements may only be inspected with the consent of each of party to an Agreement, and in accordance with any requirements of the State Aboriginal Heritage Committee.
Register of Recognised Aboriginal Representative Bodies
There are currently two appointed Recognised Aboriginal Representative Bodies.
Two groups are automatically established under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 as RARBs for specific areas in South Australia:
- Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara is established under the Act as the RARB for the APY Lands as defined by the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Land Rights Act 1981
- Maralinga Tjarutja is established under the Act as the RARB for the MT Lands as defined by the Maralinga Tjarutja Land Rights Act 1984.
RARB contact details are available on the RARB webpage. The appointment of additional RARBs must be approved by the State Aboriginal Heritage Committee.
In July 2018, online searching of the Register of RARBs will be available through a new AAR Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Register and Information Management System.
Register of Aboriginal Sites and Objects
The Register of Aboriginal Sites and Objects is part of the Central Archive and contains information about Aboriginal sites, objects and remains. Aboriginal people are rightly concerned about how their site information is managed and released by government. Information about Aboriginal heritage can be extremely sensitive, and there are cultural restrictions related to whether and how this information is shared.
Access to the Register of Aboriginal Sites and Objects is by email request which should include:
- a clearly defined and described area of interest
- lot/plan details, certificate of title number, tenement number, map, shapefile and/or grid references
- a reason for the request and a description of how the information will be used.
Requests can be lodged via email to DPC-AAR.HeritageSites1@sa.gov.au.
As of July 2018, online requests for searches of the Register of Aboriginal Sites and Objects can also be made through a new AAR Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Register and Information Management System, Taa wika, which is now live at https://taawika.sa.gov.au.
The name is a Kaurna language description for ‘web entrance’, where Taa describes a ‘mouth’ or ‘opening’, and wika describes a ‘web’, or the internet.
Taa wika digitises the Register of Aboriginal Sites and Objects, allowing for access by Traditional Owners and other authorised users. This supports recent changes to the Aboriginal Heritage Act, which put RARBs at the centre of cultural decision making.
It also enables searches of the public Register of RARBs, which means people can look up Traditional Owners who can speak for country around the state. This allows land use proponents to engage with the right custodians early and in the first instance, and for those custodians to directly negotiate appropriate ways of managing heritage.
Applications for searches of the Register of Aboriginal Sites and Objects can be submitted through Taa wika, streamlining the process for public users.
Strict information technology security protocols across Taa wika will ensure knowledge is protected in compliance with all appropriate cultural restrictions, including gender, seniority and custodianship.
Types of search requests
If you are seeking information about whether there are Aboriginal sites, objects or remains in your project area you may submit a search request. You will receive a letter stating whether there are any entries in the Register of Aboriginal sites and objects within your interest area. Where there are heritage sites in that area you will also receive a map indicating the approximate location of the site and the contact details of the traditional owners of this heritage.
AAR will not release information about the precise location or details of the site without express written permission from the traditional owners.
If you are seeking information relating to a single parcel of land, certificate of title, mining tenement or a point of reference such as coordinates of a small generic area (limited size), this would generally be considered a basic search. From 1 July 2018, the basic search fee is $25.50 per search.
If your search relates to numerous parcels of land, certificate of titles, mining tenements or numerous points of references such as coordinates of large generic areas, including large buffered areas, and is estimated to take more than one hour to complete, it will be considered an extended search. From 1 July 2018, an extended search fee is $76.50 per hour or part thereof.
Upon submission of your search request you will provided with a link to the payment facility. Payment will be required before the search request is completed.
For further information please contact AAR on 08 8226 8900 or email DPC-AAR.HeritageSites1@sa.gov.au
Register of Agreements
The Register of Agreements includes information required under section 7 of the Regulations in relation to an approved local heritage agreement and agreements to which Division A2 of the Act applies.
The Register may only be inspected with the consent of each party to the agreement and in accord with any requirements specified by the State Aboriginal Heritage Committee.
To inspect an agreement on the register, please contact AAR.
Please allow up to 21 days for a response to site search requests and up to 28 days, or as required by section 35 of the Act, for the release of information from site cards and/or cultural heritage reports.
For more information phone (08) 8226 8900 or email DPC-AAR.HeritageSites1@sa.gov.au.
- Download: Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 (193.9 KB PDF)