A fundamental issue that impacts on the lack of protection of the rock art of the Dampier Archipelago is the poor legislation for Aboriginal Heritage protection in this country. Recently (June 2014) the Australian Government produced a draft Australian Heritage Strategy. It FAILED to highlight the importance of Aboriginal Heritage as a foundational issue in the protection of Australian Heritage.
In its submission to the Government, FARA said,
“The most important thing the Australian Government should be doing to offer leadership in heritage is getting serious about Australia’s Aboriginal Cultural Heritage. As long as government instrumentalities, policies and processes fail to properly acknowledge and protect Australia’s unique indigenous history, the remainder of its heritage actions are hollow. In Western Australia, Aboriginal Heritage is so seriously compromised legislatively and administratively that it is ONLY leadership from the Australian Government that can provide reliable protection for this bedrock of our nation’s past.”
“FARA’s activity since 2006 has highlighted the inadequacy of both State and Commonwealth heritage protection regimes to offer the level of protection appropriate to a site of such unique international significance. In FARA’s view, the only way to protect the Burrup properly is for it to be accorded the World Heritage status which it merits. However, the State Government claims that the area’s current NHL status gives sufficient protection, while Commonwealth Governments from both sides of politics have evaded the issue by holding to a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ that they can only nominate the site for tentative World Heritage listing if first approached by WA’s State Government. Therefore they argue, the Commonwealth Government can do nothing (a claim belied by the Franklin Dam case).
Given the refusal to pursue World Heritage listing of a site of such global significance as the Dampier Archipelago, it is ironic that the current Commonwealth Government is giving serious consideration to the World Heritage listing of sites of far lower significance, such as Royal National Park and Melbourne’s Victoria Markets.”