Most states and territories make the damage, destruction or disruption of Aboriginal sites or objects a crime. Some systems of laws protect relics, while others protect areas and objects important to Aboriginal people. Penalties range from $500 for an individual to a maximum of $50,000 for a company, but there have been few lawsuits to date. These laws are considered insufficient because they are difficult to enforce, because they do not give Aboriginal people sufficient authority to enforce those laws, and because it is difficult to prove the necessary intent contained in the offences. Ideally, state and territory laws should provide an effective process for protecting areas and objects important to Aboriginal people when they are threatened with development. This process should include early treatment of cultural heritage issues, effective Aboriginal consultation, and genuine mediation or other procedures to avoid injury or desecration of sites. The level of protection available under certain legal provisions and the protection actually afforded in practice are very different. A kind of protection regime is based on the registration of the site in combination with a development application process. Another model provides automatic or widespread protection for all areas or objects covered by legal definitions.
The protection of ceilings means that all territories and territories covered by the legal definition of cultural heritage are automatically protected by penalties that make it an offence, causing damage or desecration to the area or area, whether the area has been assessed or covered or not. Under this type of scheme, there are usually procedures for developers to apply for development permission in cases where there is a risk of damage to an area or website. The registration may be conclusive evidence that the site is an Aboriginal site (Victoria, Northern Territory, South Australia). An Aboriginal heritage survey using a site avoidance methodology is conducted when the proponent is more confident of future use of the proposed development and wants to ensure that the geographic boundary of all Aboriginal sites within the proposed construction area is clearly defined. The process is longer/expensive and allows Aboriginal people to define an Aboriginal site in space, but does not allow it to be recorded in detail. Version 3 Page 5 The supporter must provide the precise GPS coordinates of the proposed site with a map and description of the proposed work. Limited information on Aboriginal heritage is recorded and made available to the developer using this method, but the resulting report cannot be used in section 18 notice under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 (Cth) is a final act.
The Minister of the Commonwealth may act to protect Aboriginal heritage if he or she believes that the laws of the state or territory do not provide adequate protection to the threatened area or object. If state or territory laws provided effective protection, the Commonwealth Act would be less necessary. Definitions of Aboriginal heritage range from those based on Aboriginal heritage values to those based on anthropological, archaeological or scientific values.