Indigenous Advisory Committee


The Indigenous Advisory Committee (the 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 Minister for the Environment (the 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 role of the Committee is to provide advice, as requested by the Minister, to the Minister or Department of the Environment (the Department) on environment and heritage programmes, 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.

Terms of Reference

The Committee provides advice to the 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; and
  • 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 its biodiversity and its natural and culturally significant places. It provides a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places - defined under the EPBC Act as Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES). The nine matters of MNES are:

  1. world heritage properties;
  2. national heritage places;
  3. wetlands of international importance (often called 'Ramsar' wetlands after the international treaty under which such wetlands are listed);
  4. nationally threatened species and ecological communities;
  5. migratory species;
  6. Commonwealth marine areas;
  7. the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park;
  8. nuclear actions (including uranium mining); and
  9. a water resource, in relation to coal seam gas development and large coal mining development.

The Objects of the EPBC Act [section 3] are:

  • 3.1(a) to provide for the protection of the environment, especially those aspects of the environment that are Matters of National Environmental Significance; and
  • 3.1(b) to promote ecologically sustainable development through the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of natural resources; and
  • 3.1(c) to promote the conservation of biodiversity; and
  • 3.1(ca) to provide for the protection and conservation of heritage; and
  • 3.1(d) to promote a co-operative approach to the protection and management of the environment involving governments, the community, land-holders and Indigenous peoples; and
  • 3.1(e) to assist in the co-operative implementation of Australia's international environmental responsibilities; and
  • 3.1(f) to recognise the role of Indigenous people in the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of Australia's biodiversity; and
  • 3.1(g) to promote the use of Indigenous peoples' knowledge of biodiversity with the involvement of, and in co-operation with, the owners of the knowledge.

In order to achieve its object, the EPBC Act [section 3.2(g)]:

  • 3.2(g) promotes a partnership approach to environmental protection and biodiversity conservation through:
    • (iii) recognising and promoting Indigenous people's role in, and knowledge of, the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of Australia's biodiversity; and
    • (iv) the involvement of the community in management planning.


All Committee members are Indigenous 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 Minister.

Committee members

Melissa George Chair
Bruce Martin Deputy Chair
Ronald (Ricky) Archer Member
Robert (Robbie) Dalton Member
Josie Douglas Member
Joseph Elu Member
Teagan Goolmeer Member
Denise Lovett Member
Wayne See Kee 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.

Indigenous Advisory Committee Bulletins

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


Secretariat services are provided by staff of the Landcare and Biodiversity Policy Branch of the Department of the Environment.

Contacting the IAC

Post: IAC Secretariat
Landcare and Biodiversity Policy Branch
Biodiversity Conservation Division
Department of the Environment
GPO Box 787