About the Indigenous Engagement Guidelines
The Australian Government’s central piece of environmental legislation, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), recognises that Indigenous peoples have an important role in the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of Australia’s biodiversity and Indigenous heritage.
The ‘Engage Early – Guidance for proponents on best practice Indigenous engagement for environmental assessments under the EPBC Act’ (the Guidelines) aim to improve how proponents engage and consult Indigenous peoples during the environmental assessment process under the EPBC Act. It provides guidance to project proponents on when Indigenous communities should be consulted (in addition to the statutory public comment periods required under Part 8 of the EPBC Act), and sets out the Department of the Environment’s (the Department) expectations on how Indigenous engagement should occur.
The Engage Early – Indigenous Engagement Guidelines should be read in conjunction with Ask First: A guide to respecting Indigenous heritage places and values published by the Australian Heritage Commission (now the Australian Heritage Council) in 2002. The Ask First guidelines are a practical guide for proponents on Indigenous heritage issues and include steps for consultation and negotiation.