Ms Patten (Northern Metropolitan) — I am very pleased to speak briefly on the Aboriginal Heritage Amendment Bill 2015. When I was considering the bill I could not help but think that in the brief time I have been in Parliament we have spoken and thought about Aboriginal people but never in a good way. It has always been looking at the gap in health and education and the fact that Aboriginal people, particularly in my area, are far more likely to be involved with the justice department, far more likely to be involved with the welfare department and far more likely to be involved with the prison system.
The Aboriginal Heritage Amendment Bill provides further efforts to increase self-determination amongst our Aboriginal friends in Victoria, and that can only be a positive step. Ensuring that traditional owners are at the centre of decision-making in matters of their traditional heritage I think is sensible and appropriate. I am optimistic that it will also have ramifications in other areas of society, not just in protecting the heritage, which of course is terribly important. In protecting that cultural heritage we will increase pride in that heritage amongst the Aboriginal community in Victoria.
I am very pleased that we are seeing legislation that ensures that secret and sacred Aboriginal objects can be returned to the owners and that there is a system now in place to ensure that there is good reporting on this and that there are offences for not reporting. From reading the reports I think that largely the institutions that may hold some of the objects are very supportive of this move and recognise the importance and validity of these culturally significant items, of respecting these cultural ties, of recognising the intergenerational trauma that has gone on for so many generations and of recognising that this population, this heritage and this culture are tens of thousands of years old. We have evidence of that, and we need to not only protect it but celebrate it. This bill goes a long way to doing that.
I was very pleased to see further protection for the intangible heritage as well. This is a very difficult thing. It should not be difficult, but in the past we have struggled to capture language and we have struggled to capture ownership and recognition of ownership of those intangibles — those songs, those dances and those designs. This bill better enables us to capture those. The Sex Party is very supportive of the Aboriginal Heritage Amendment Bill. We hope not only that it will increase self-determination around cultural heritage, be it tangible or intangible, but that it also goes further to create a greater understanding and pride for the Aboriginal heritage that we should all hold dear in this land.