vic_logo
aboriginalvictoria.vic.gov.au

Protecting heritage and enforcing the Act

How Authorised Officers and Aboriginal Heritage Officers protect Aboriginal heritage.

Authorised Officers and Aboriginal Heritage Officers

The Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006includes a range of enforcement provisions to provide better protection for Aboriginal cultural heritage in Victoria. These provide appropriate penalties and clear powers for Authorised Officers (AOs) and Aboriginal Heritage Officers (AHOs).

AOs and AHOs are trained to an appropriate standard comparable to other authorised officers operating under similar Victorian legislation.

AOs and AHOs assess compliance with Cultural Heritage Management Plans and Cultural Heritage Permits. They also investigate reports of harm to Aboriginal cultural heritage, and help government and land users to avoid impacts to Aboriginal places and objects.

AOs and AHOs are appointed by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs to investigate and monitor compliance with the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 and to enforce protection measures when necessary.

AOs must be employees of the Victorian Public Service or an inspector, enforcement officer or authorised officer under another Act. AHOs must be employees of a Registered Aboriginal Party.

What powers and responsibilities do Authorised Officers and Aboriginal Heritage Officers have?

AOs and AHOs are trained to a standard comparable to other authorised officers operating under similar Victorian legislation. AOs and AHO's must produce their identity card before exercising their powers.

AOs and AHOs have appropriate powers to gather relevant information to assist the investigation of offences and prosecutions.

In some circumstance this gives AOs and AHOs:

  • general powers to enter land or private premises
  • search powers upon entry
  • the power to seize objects or human remains

AOs are responsible for conducting or directing cultural heritage audits and have the power to issue stop orders in emergency situations, which can have effect for up to 30 days. 

AOs and AHOs have the power to serve improvement notices and issue 24-hour stop orders.

Forms and resources

Contact us

If you suspect non-compliance with the Act:

Email: compliance.aboriginalvictoria@dpc.vic.gov.au
Phone: 1800 762 003

Penalties

The Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 includes substantial penalties to provide an effective deterrent against harming Aboriginal cultural heritage.

Harming Aboriginal cultural heritage:

  • The maximum penalty is 1800 penalty units for an individual and 10,000 penalty units for a body corporate. From 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020, the penalty is $297,396 for an individual or $1,652,000 for a corporation.

Breaching stop orders or protection declarations:

  • The maximum penalty is 1800 penalty units for an individual and 10,000 penalty units for a body corporate. From 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020, the penalty is $297,396 for an individual or $1,652,000 for a corporation.

Unlawful possession of Aboriginal objects including Aboriginal ancestral remains:

  • The maximum penalty is 120 penalty units for an individual and 600 penalty units for a body corporate. From 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020, the penalty is $19,826 for an individual or $99,132 for a corporation.

Reviewed 02 October 2019

Aboriginal Victoria

Was this page helpful?