Tradtional stone knapping workshop with OEH Conservation Officer John Duggan 11.10.16 2 BM

Protect Aboriginal Cultural Heritage

Declaring Aboriginal Places is a way of recognising and legally protecting Aboriginal cultural heritage. Any land in NSW that is deemed to have special significance for Aboriginal culture, including public and private land, can be declared as an Aboriginal Place.

The NSW Government has an ongoing program of assessing and recommending the declaration and gazettal of areas as Aboriginal Places throughout NSW. These declarations are a conservation tool and advance the recognition, protection and understanding of Aboriginal cultural values throughout NSW.

Listing on the State Heritage Register and conservation agreements under Part 4 of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 can also further protect Aboriginal Places.

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Credit: Merv Sutherland Heritage NSW

Anyone can nominate an area to be declared an Aboriginal Place under the NPW Act 1974 or to be nominated for listing on the State Heritage Register to be protected under the Heritage Act 1977.

Before making a submission, it’s recommended that you read Declared Aboriginal Places: Guidelines for developing management plans .

Download the Aboriginal Place proposal form

If you have any questions, please contact us on:

Email: heritagemailbox@environment.nsw.gov.au

Phone: (02) 9873 8500

To report harm to Aboriginal items or sites Environment Line 131 555

Nominate Aboriginal Items for listing on the State Heritage Register

A place or item that is distinctive and culturally significant can be nominated for listing on the State Heritage Register (SHR), with the support of the Aboriginal community. Before it can be listed, the place or item must be considered of high significance to the cultural heritage values of the community or to Aboriginal communities of NSW.

When considering an item for listing, the Heritage Council carefully assesses its heritage significance and consults with land owners/managers, the Aboriginal community and the broader community. An item is listed on the register after the Minister agrees to the Heritage Council's recommendation that it is of State heritage significance.

How to nominate for the State Heritage Register

Comment on proposed Aboriginal Listings for the State Heritage Register

Everyone can comment on whether a place or object should be listed on the State Heritage Register. When an item is proposed for listing, the Heritage Council publishes notices in local media and invites the owners, occupiers, local council and any interested members of the public to write a submission.

Comment on proposed listings

Report Aboriginal Objects

If you find or believe you have found an Aboriginal object, leave it where it is and report the object and its location to us by emailing ahims@environment.nsw.gov.au.

Even if you believe the object is in danger of being damaged or harmed, it is very important to leave it alone and report it immediately. You may be committing an offence if you handle or move the object. The NPW Act 1974 calls for the location of Aboriginal objects to be reported regardless of whether they are on public or private land.

If you’re unsure what information or relevant details should be included when reporting an Aboriginal object, please contact us at ahims@environment.nsw.gov.au or by calling 02 9585 6345.

If you mistakenly take an Aboriginal object, or find yourself in possession of one, please return it to your local office or phone Environment Line: 131 555 for further information about how to return the object to its rightful owners as soon as possible.

We work with Aboriginal communities and are guided by them to make sure Aboriginal cultural material is returned promptly and in a culturally appropriate way.

Develop a management plan for a declared Aboriginal Place

When an Aboriginal Place is declared, a formal management plan should be prepared. The landowner/manager/occupier must work in consultation with the Aboriginal community to develop the plan.

If you are developing a management plan there are several important elements for you to consider during the assessment process and in the development of the management plan. These include:

  • a statement of cultural values of the Aboriginal Place, which may include:
    • details of existing, known or recorded Aboriginal sites
    • details of whether there are any men’s or women’s business sites associated with the area being nominated
    • any areas where further investigations are needed
  • information about potential threats to the place, a risk assessment against those threats and applicable mitigation strategies to manage or treat the threats
  • details about other uses of the area, such as recreation or economic activities
  • appropriate fire regimes
  • details of specific short- and long-term activities or management actions that may require an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit before they can lawfully be undertaken within the nominated area
  • maps or diagrams to illustrate where activities or actions that may require an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit would be likely to occur
  • details about the treatment of any applicable culturally sensitive information or content
  • details about ongoing and long-term management action proposals, including:
    • resources required
    • a list of responsible parties
    • information about associated consultation and/or approval requirements
  • documented plans for the periodic monitoring and recording of the nominated Aboriginal Place site conditions and management actions
  • details about funding and resources.

We have prepared Declared Aboriginal Places: Guidelines for developing management plans , which is a document that is intended to help applicants/nominees prepare a management plan.