The committee advises the Environment minister on environment, heritage, policy and consultation. This helps to ensure better access and engagement for First Australians. Committee members have expertise in Indigenous land and sea management, biodiversity and cultural heritage.
The Indigenous Advisory Committee is a statutory committee established in 2000 under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) [section 505A].
The function of the committee [section 505B] is to advise the Environment minister on the operation of the EPBC Act, taking into account the significance of Indigenous peoples' knowledge of the management of land and the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
The committee's role is to provide advice, as requested by the Environment minister, on environment and heritage programs, policy and consultation strategies, to ensure better access and engagement for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The committee provides advice as requested by the minister, excluding where an existing statutory committee exists to provide such advice.
The committee provides advice to the Environment minister, or the department, as and when requested by the minister in relation to the EPBC Act. In reference to its role and by incorporating Indigenous peoples' knowledge of the management of land and heritage, conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, the committee, at the request of the minister, will:
- provide advice to the minister and the department on issues that are relevant to achieving the objects of the EPBC Act
- ensure the views of Indigenous peoples are considered in the administration of the EPBC Act and its reform
- provide the minister with a communiqué following each meeting reporting on Indigenous issues relating to the EPBC Act and matters of interest to the department
- advise on other matters that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Environment portfolio
- represent the committee at departmental meetings, stakeholder forums or present at conferences.
The EPBC Act is the Australian Government's central piece of environmental legislation that provides a framework for protection of the Australian environment, including nationally significant (protected) animals, plants, habitats or places. We call these things 'protected matters'.
The Act provides a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places. Defined under the Act, these 9 matters of national environmental significance are:
- world heritage properties
- national heritage places
- wetlands of international importance (often called 'Ramsar' wetlands after the international treaty under which such wetlands are listed)
- nationally threatened species and ecological communities
- migratory species
- Commonwealth marine areas
- the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
- nuclear actions (including uranium mining)
- a water resource, in relation to coal seam gas development and large coal mining development.
The Act also protects the environment when actions are taken:
- on Commonwealth land or impact upon Commonwealth land
- by an Australian Government agency anywhere in the world
- that impact Commonwealth heritage places overseas
The objectives of the EPBC Act [section 3] are to:
- provide for the protection of the environment, especially those aspects of the environment that are Matters of National Environmental Significance - 3.1(a)
- promote ecologically sustainable development through the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of natural resources - 3.1(b)
- promote the conservation of biodiversity - 3.1(c)
- provide for the protection and conservation of heritage - 3.1(ca)
- promote a co-operative approach to the protection and management of the environment involving governments, the community, land-holders and Indigenous peoples - 3.1(d)
- assist in the co-operative implementation of Australia's international environmental responsibilities - 3.1(e)
- recognise the role of Indigenous people in the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of Australia's biodiversity - 3.1(f)
- promote the use of Indigenous peoples' knowledge of biodiversity with the involvement of, and in co-operation with, the owners of the knowledge - 3.1(g).
To achieve its objectives, the EPBC Act [section 3.2(g)] promotes a partnership approach to environmental protection and biodiversity conservation through:
- recognising and promoting Indigenous people's role in, and knowledge of, the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of Australia's biodiversity
- the involvement of the community in management planning.
All committee members are First Australians and are not appointed to represent particular regions or organisations. Members are ministerially appointed based on expertise in Indigenous land and sea management, conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and cultural heritage management.
The committee is an advisory and not a decision making body and it is not a consultative mechanism to seek the views of stakeholders. It does not advocate on behalf of Indigenous communities, stakeholders or funded proponents. It provides strategic advice at the request of the Environment minister.
Duane Fraser, Chair
Teagan Goolmeer, Deputy Chair
Chrissy Grant, Member
Leah Talbot, Member
Stephen van Leeuwen, Member
Stan Lui, Member
Donna Odegaard, Member
Committee business is conducted twice a year when the committee meets face-to-face as well as through out of session work and regular teleconferences. Committee meetings are held in Canberra and committee business is supported by a Departmental secretariat.
IAC Meeting 43 - 23 March 2022, Videoconference
IAC Meeting 42 - 17 August 2021, Videoconference
IAC Meeting 41 - 20 April 2021, Videoconference
IAC Meeting 40 - 17 December 2020, Videoconference
IAC Meeting 39 - 26-27 August 2020, Videoconference
IAC Meeting 38 - 31 March - 1 April 2020, Videoconference
IAC Meeting 37 - 10-12 September 2019, Canberra, ACT
IAC Meeting 36 - 29-30 May 2019, Canberra, ACT
IAC Meeting 35 - 23-24 August 2018, Canberra, ACT
IAC Meeting 34 - 22-23 February 2018, Canberra, ACT
IAC Meeting 33 - 27-28 July 2017, Canberra, ACT
IAC Meeting 32 - 29-30 March 2017, Canberra, ACT
IAC Meeting 31 - 1-2 December 2015, Canberra, ACT
IAC Meeting 30 - 27-28 May 2015, Canberra, ACT
IAC Meeting 29 - 4 December 2014, Canberra, ACT
IAC Meeting 28 - 2-3 April 2014, Canberra, ACT
IAC Meeting 27 - 26-27 November 2013, Canberra, ACT
IAC Meeting 26 - 24-25 May 2013, Darwin, Northern Territory
IAC Meeting 25 - 23-25 October 2012, Cairns, Queensland
Get in touch
You can contact the the committee through the secretariat services provided by our staff.
Biodiversity Policy and Water Science Branch
Biodiversity Conservation Division
Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment
GPO Box 858
CANBERRA ACT 2601