In an historic meeting the Minister for Environment and Water, the Hon Tanya Plibersek met with the First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance (FNHPA) signing a crucial Partnership Agreement.

Says Co-Chair of FNHPA and Ngalia Cultural and Community Leader Kado Muir “A commitment to co-design this important piece of legislation reflects a true partnership between First nations and the Federal Government.

I commend the Minister, who, on behalf of the Federal Government joined with us, the FNHPA, to work together for real enduring change, setting new standards for cultural heritage protection now and into the future. We look forward to a new way of looking after our spiritual and cultural values, in a way that empowers and uplifts a shared enjoyment of this unique fabric of our collective identity as Australians.”

The Agreement guarantees that the legislative reform proposals the Minister has committed to bringing forward, embed the key principals of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

“Our Government has today signed an agreement with the First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance” said Minister Tanya Plibersek.

“This partnership will guide the reform process – to ensure that Indigenous voices are present at every stage, in every room, and in every decision we make.”

Adds Heron Loban a Torres Strait Islander woman with family connections to Mabuiag and Boig and Chair of FNHPA from Parliament House in Canberra today, “Today is a historic day in the fight by First Nations Peoples to make sure that something as appalling as the desecration of 46,000 year-old heritage site Juukan Gorge by Rio Tinto in May 2020 can never happen again.

The work under the Partnership agreement will ensure this country has laws to guarantee that First Nations Peoples are empowered to look after their own cultural heritage” continues Ms Loban.

This morning, Minister Plibersek also tabled in Parliament the Albanese Government’s response to the recommendation of the Joint Standing Committee on North Australia’s inquiry into the destruction of Juukan Gorge.

In addition to progressing with legislative reform, the response promises action on several important related areas, such as resourcing for local native title bodies, investigating better ways to make native title agreements and greater protection for intangible cultural heritage.

The Juukan Gorge disaster exposed a flaw across jurisdictions. These reforms will give the Australian and international community assurance there is a safeguard from the Federal Government, who through reform will set a high-level standard for effective Cultural Heritage Protection, so an instance like Juukan Gorge never happens again.

The Alliance congratulates the government on its genuine dedication to implementing the recommendation of the Inquiry and looks forward to working with Minister Plibersek and her colleagues, to ensure the reforms pledged become a reality.

For interview requests with Kado Muir or Heron Loban please contact

Sarah Easson, Head of Media relations

E: sarah.easson@nntc.com.au or M: 0419 228 642