During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Gunditjmara community led by Aunt Christina Saunders and Aunt Sandra Onus fought for the protection of Gunditjmara cultural heritage at the construction site of the Portland Aluminium Smelter in southwest Victoria.
After being appealed through every court in the State of Victoria, the decision by the Federal Court of Australia in the Onus vs Alcoa of Australia Ltd case in 1981 upheld of the role of First Peoples of Australia to protect and care for our cultural heritage.
The Commonwealth of Australia responded to the decision with the following landmark pieces of legislation:
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Heritage Protection and Management.
GMTOAC Registered Aboriginal Party under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 VIC.
The Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (Vic) recognises Traditional Owners as the primary guardians, keepers and knowledge holders of their cultural heritage.
At a regional level, Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs) are the voice of Traditional Owners in the management and protection of their cultural heritage in Victoria.
RAPs have responsibilities under the Act relating to the management of their cultural heritage, including:
providing advice on applications for Cultural Heritage Permits
providing advice or application for interim or ongoing Protection Declarations.