Preliminary Aboriginal Heritage Tests (PAHT)


A Preliminary Aboriginal Heritage Test (PAHT) (pronounced ‘part’) is a targeted assessment to determine whether a Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP) is required to be prepared and approved prior to a planning permit or statutory authorisation being issued.

Most often, PAHTs target the area of mapped cultural heritage sensitivity within the activity area to determine whether it has been subject to ‘significant ground disturbance’, as defined by the Aboriginal Heritage Regulations 2018. A PAHT can also be used to determine if a specific activity is a ‘high impact activity’. A PAHT takes into consideration the current use and condition of the land, the type of activity planned, and the land use history of the activity area.

A PAHT may also include a site visit to observe the degree of disturbance, or a formal survey in consultation with the relevant Registered Aboriginal Party (RAP)/Aboriginal Traditional Owner group/s.

Once the test has been completed, a document is prepared detailing the findings of the assessment and submitted to Aboriginal Victoria (AV) for Certification. If AV certify the PAHT, it becomes a legally biding document and can be submitted in support of a planning permit or statutory authorisation application in place of a CHMP.

When is a PAHTrequired?

A PAHT is always volunatary, however may be recommended to assess the need for a mandatory CHMP for a proposed activity.

There are several reasons why a proposed activity may not require a mandatory CHMP. A PAHT is designed to identify if these circumstances exist. These circumstances may include:

  • Significant Ground Disturbance – If the entire area of mapped cultural heritage sensitivity that falls within an activity area has been subject to ‘significant ground disturbance’ as defined by the Aboriginal Heritage Regulations 2018, a mandatory CHMP is not required to be prepared and approved; or
  • The activity proposed is not classified as a high impact activity.

Once the test has been completed, a document is prepared detailing the findings of the assessment and submitted to AV for certification.

When would a Prelminary Aboriginal Heritage Test be successful?

Aboriginal Victoria (AV) will certify a PAHT in the instance that the PAHT can prove, and they agree, that the entire mapped area of sensitivity within the activity area has been subject to significant ground disturbance, as defined by the Aboriginal Heritage Regulations 2018, or; the PAHT determines, and they agree, that the proposed activity is not a high impact activity. If AV disagree with the findings of the PAHT, it will not be certified and a mandatory CHMP will need to be prepared and approved prior to a planning permit or statutory authorisation being issued.

Significant Ground Disturbance

The Aboriginal Heritage Regulations 2018 define ‘significant ground disturbance’ as: disturbance of –

(a) the topsoil or surface rock layer of the ground; or

(b) a waterway-

by machinery in the course of grading, excavating, digging, dredging or deep ripping, but does not include ploughing other than deep ripping.

High Impact Activity

High impact activities, as defined by the Aboriginal Heritage Regulations 2018 include, but are not limited to:

  • Buildings and works for specified uses, including but not limited to car park, childcare centre, education centre, hospital, industry, minor and major sports and recreation facilities, office, place of assembly, residential building and village, retail premises, utility installation, warehouse;
  • Specified items of infrastructure, including but not limited to bicycle/walking track exceeding 500 metres, rail infrastructure, road infrastructure and telecommunication assets;
  • Three or more dwellings;
  • Subdivision of land;
  • Wind farms;
  • Alpine resorts;
  • Extraction or removal of stone;
  • Extraction or removal of sand or sandstone;
  • Extraction or removal of loose stone on agricultural land of Victorian Volcanic Plain;
  • Dams; and
  • Specified uses of land, including instances in which a statutory authorisation is required to change the use of land.

However, these activities may be excluded from being classified as a high impact activity in certain circumstances. These circumstances may include:

  • If the proposed activity is for, or associated with an activity for which the land was being lawfully used immediately prior to 28 May 2007.

For example; if a school was proposing a new building, and that school had been in existence on the same allotment immediately prior to 28 May 2007, this will not be considered to be a high impact activity.

This is because the new building is for, and associated with a use that was existing before the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 was implemented.

PAHT timeframes and AV Certification period

A PAHT is usually able to be completed and submitted to AV within four weeks.

A period of 21 days is required for the certification period.

Do I need a PAHT or a CHMP?

As described above, a PAHT is used to determine if a mandatory CHMP is required.

If you believe that the land within your activity area meets the definition of ‘significant ground disturbance’, or that your activity may not be a high impact activity, a PAHT may be appropriate.

If 100% of the mapped area of sensitivity that falls within your activity area has not been subject to significant ground disturbance, or your activity area is a high impact activity, a mandatory CHMP may be required.

Your Heritage Advisor is best placed to help determine whether the preparation of a PAHT or a CHMP is appropriate. AV is not obligated to certify a PAHT and as such, it is recommended that a PAHT only be prepared in instances where a Heritage Advisor considers that there is a high chance of certification.

Trusting Jem Archaeology with your PAHT

Jem Archaeology have been trusted by developers, architects, town planners, government and regulatory bodies and councils for the preparation of CHMPs for since PAHTs were introduced.

Our experience, knowledge and intricate understanding of the relevant legislation and regulatory requirements, combined with our vast experience working across Victoria enables us to provide accurate advice and efficient stakeholder management.

Our intrinsic understanding of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 and the Aboriginal Heritage Regulations 2018, coupled with our vast experience assessing the condition of landforms and preparing PAHTs gives us a unique insight and understanding as to whether or not your PAHT submission will be certified. Jem Archaeology is proud to have a 100% PAHT certification rate – a direct result of the fact that we never recommend a PAHT unless we are confident that it will be certified. At Jem Archaeology we pride ourselves on providing our clients with efficient, honest and direct advice that leads to the most time and cost-effective path to the required outcome. As a result, our clients can be assured that they will save time and money by never being advised to pursue options that are likely to fail.

Led by Jem Archaeology Director, Principal Archaeologist and Heritage Advisor Jen Burch, you can count on the expertise of our team to guide you through the PAHT process.

8

YEARS ESTABLISHED

460

PROJECTS

300

CHMPS

100

LETTERS OF ADVICE

“Jen Burch of Jem Archaeology has provided clear and precise advice, has identified and addressed issues in a practical, transparent and ethical manner and has provided incredible value for money. She has vast knowledge of cultural management and heritage issues, has great rapport with Indigenous parties and has the capacity to efficiently identify and deal with issues that arise. Jen delivers speedy, cost efficient and ethical outcomes. I have no hesitation in recommending Jen Burch and Jem Archaeology to any group or organisation dealing with matters within her area of expertise.”

THOMAS LINDSEY

Warrnambool Project Design and
Development Pty Ltd, 2016

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