Business and investment leaders have taken a pivotal step towards elevating their protection of First Nations cultural heritage by committing to a new best practice standard defined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that was launched in Canberra today by the First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance (FNHPA).


Today’s launch of the Dhawura Ngilan Business and Investor Guides heralds a new period in Australia’s business relations, with commitment from the private sector to reach beyond legislative standards and implement leading practice for cultural heritage as defined by First Nations peoples,” says Kado Muir, Co-Chair of the FNHPA and Ngalia cultural and community leader.


The Guides are inspired by, and take the name from, the Dhawura Ngilan Vision (Dhawura Ngilan means ‘Remembering Country’ in the Ngunnawal Language) drafted by Heritage Councils across the country with the backing of the FNHPA. This Vision sets the course for First Nations heritage over the next decade. Now businesses and investors are stepping up to integrate the Dhawura Ngilan Vision within their operations.


“It’s encouraging to see some companies will go beyond legislative compliance,” said Merle Ashburton, Chairperson, PKKP Aboriginal Corporation, representing traditional owners of Juukan Gorge’. “The private sector must not wait for laws to catch-up to community expectations regarding the right of Traditional Owners to Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).”


Over the next 12 – 18 months key businesses and investors, including global resources company, BHP, will implement the Guides to put the First Nations-led advice into action.


We are grateful to the First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance for their leadership in this initiative and we look forward to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partners to further embed the Dhawura Ngilan vision,” said BHP President Australia, Geraldine Slattery.

The Hon Minister Plibersek, Minister for the Environment and Water, delivered a keynote speech at the high-profile launch event. The FNHPA is working with the Commonwealth Government to co-design new national cultural heritage legislation due to serious deficiencies in the current legislative framework.


Current laws empower ministers and government officials as the decision-makers, requiring little to no consultation with First Nations communities. Yet, international standards, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), make clear that First Nations peoples have the right to be the leaders and decision-makers in relation to their cultural heritage.


The Dhawura Ngilan Business and Investor Guides comprehensively outline the steps businesses should take to uphold the principles of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC). They also address the due diligence investors should undertake to manage the legal, financial and reputational risks associated with First Nations cultural heritage destruction. The Guides were drafted by Terri Janke & Company, a 100% Indigenous owned and run law firm, in consultation with First Nations, business and investment groups.


Led by FNHPA, in partnership with the UN Global Compact Network Australia (UNGCNA) and the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA), the Dhawura Ngilan Business and Investor Initiative supports the private sector to have meaningful and rights-respecting engagement to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage.


BHP is providing $1.2 million in funding to support the Initiative’s workplan. Lendlease, HESTA, KPMG Australia, and Perpetual are also supporting the work of the initiative.



For all media enquiries please contact Sarah Easson on or M: 0419 228 642


About the First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance (FNHPA)

The First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance is a coalition of member organisations representing First Nations Peoples from across Australia, including major Native Title, Land Rights, Traditional Owner, and community-controlled organisations nationally. In a historic meeting held on the 17 June 2020, following the shocking destruction of the sacred 46,000-year-old Juukan Gorge Caves in the Pilbara Western Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders from across Australia – representing Aboriginal Land Councils, Native Title Representative Bodies and Service Providers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Organisations – expressed their outrage at the destruction vowing to pursue national reforms to prevent this from ever happening again.

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