Statement of reconciliation
The staff of the NPWS acknowledge that the indigenous peoples are the original custodians of the lands and waters, animals and plants of New South Wales and its many and varied landscapes.
We acknowledge the suffering and injustice that resulted from colonisation and that this continues today for many Aboriginal people. We feel regret and sorrow that the loss of their traditional lands has been a source of enduring pain to Aboriginal people.
As people working in a government land management agency,
- we acknowledge a special responsibility in finding creative and positive ways to move forward together with a shared understanding of the past.
- We recognise that the Aboriginal peoples of NSW, despite being dispossessed, maintain a diversity of living cultures and a unique
- and deeply felt attachment to the lands and waters of NSW. In our role of managing and conserving natural and cultural heritage we commit ourselves not only to respect this attachment but also to learn from it.
We in the NPWS will strive to achieve reconciliation with Aboriginal people in our daily work.
In the interests of reconciliation, the staff of the NPWS are committed to the following :
- The NPWS will continue to encourage and respond positively to applications by Aboriginal communities for the return of national parks and to engage in the subsequent joint management of these parks. The NPWS is committed to proactively identify land for hand-back.
- As a guiding principle, we acknowledge that the Aboriginal peoples of NSW do not recognise the distinction between the natural and the cultural in relation to heritage.
- We will invite greater involvement of Aboriginal communities in the management of all areas under NPWS control.
- We will work in partnership with Aboriginal people to enable them to make sustainable use of bush foods and resources.
- We will work to educate ourselves about the nature of Aboriginal attachment (past and present) to lands in our care and will endeavour to manage them in a manner which is sensitive to, and accommodating of, this attachment.
- We will endeavour to ensure that lands in our care are available to Aboriginal people for the nurturing of their culture.
- We are commited to moving towards a whole-of-landscape approach to Aboriginal heritage.
- We will continue to support Aboriginal groups in the identification, protection and management of their heritage objects, places and landscapes (e.g., stone artefacts, rock art sites, cemeteries, Dreamtime landscapes).
- We will endeavour to honour the trust placed in us by Aboriginal people in sharing information about their heritage places and landscapes with us.
- We will respect the intellectual property rights of Aboriginal people over information entrusted to us.
- We commit ourselves to using available technology to provide Aboriginal people with greater access to information on their cultural heritage and the information we hold on the plants, animals and natural environment of NSW.
Survey and research
- We recognise the value of partnership with Aboriginal people in setting goals for research into the Aboriginal heritage of NSW.
- We will observe the principle that research into Aboriginal heritage should not be carried out without the informed consent of local Aboriginal communities and that these communities should have the opportunity to participate as partners in such research.
- We are committed to the passing on of survey and research skills to Aboriginal people involved in our research programs.
- In the context of environmental impact assessment (EIA), we recognise that the impact on Aboriginal communities of land development projects can include loss of evidence of their history, loss of places and landscapes to which they have spiritual or emotional attachment, loss of wild foods and raw materials, and loss of places and landscapes used for passing on cultural knowledge.
- We recognise that Aboriginal community involvement in environmental assessment needs to occur early in the process to ensure that their values and concerns are taken fully into account and to enable their own decision-making structure to be able to function.
- We are committed to facilitating a greater role for cultural knowledge in an environmental assessment system which currently is based almost entirely on scientific knowledge.
- We appreciate that we have much to learn from Aboriginal people about the care of the land. We hope that we may in turn offer to Aboriginal people the benefit of our own tools and knowledge.
- We recognise the potential of the lands in our care to educate non-indigenous Australians about Aboriginal culture.
- We will increase our efforts to educate the public about race relations by drawing upon sites of the post-1788 period.
- We will seek greater involvement of Aboriginal people as educators and interpreters of the Aboriginal heritage of the lands in our care.
Page last updated: 26 February 2011