6.1 Aboriginal cultural heritage
- In addition to the 16 parks currently identified as Aboriginal areas, there are now 70 declared Aboriginal places in NSW, including four new places declared in 2009/10.
- Under the Two Ways , Together: partnerships - a new way of doing business with Aboriginal people, DECCW has established over 100 Aboriginal positions for 18 joint management arrangements for parks.
- There have been 123 Aboriginal people formally appointed to boards of management and committees for joint managed parks over the past three years.
- At June 2010, a total of 263 Aboriginal staff were employed in the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
- There has been an 11 per cent increase in the number of parks reporting sufficient information to support planning and decision-making in all or key areas.
- Park managers report that, compared to 2004, fewer parks have increasing negative impacts to Aboriginal cultural heritage values.
DECCW acknowledges that the indigenous peoples of Australia are the original custodians of the lands and waters, animals and plants of NSW and its many and varied landscapes. DECCW is committed to inviting greater engagement with Aboriginal communities in the management of the NSW park system. Such involvement can improve the management of parks, help visitors to better understand and respect Aboriginal people and have social and economic benefits to local communities.
The NSW park system has an important role in protecting and promoting Aboriginal objects, places and features of cultural heritage value within the landscape. Aboriginal cultural heritage objects, places and features are made up of living stories as well as connections to the past, which can include the important cultural heritage values of landscapes, resources, places, objects, customs and traditions. In NSW, DECCW works in partnership with Aboriginal communities and other government agencies to foster public appreciation, understanding and enjoyment of cultural heritage, both within and beyond the NSW park system.
NSW is fortunate to have a range of objects, places and features of cultural heritage value protected within the park system, ranging from shell middens and rock art, through to places of significance and declared Aboriginal areas. By protecting and conserving culturally significant objects, places and features of past and present, DECCW provides opportunities to appreciate, understand and enjoy cultural heritage values into the future.
In addition to the 16 parks currently identified as Aboriginal areas, there are now 70 declared Aboriginal places in NSW, including 31 on park. Four new Aboriginal places were declared in 2009/10. These areas have important cultural significance to Aboriginal people and reflect the ways in which Aboriginal people view their cultural heritage. Aboriginal places can include ceremonial areas, cemeteries, story sites, massacre sites and missions.
DECCW's knowledge of Aboriginal cultural heritage is improving. Where Aboriginal objects, places and features of cultural heritage value have been recorded in parks, park managers report that cultural heritage information is sufficient to support planning and inform decision-making in all or key areas in 56 per cent of the park system. This represents an 11 per cent increase since 2004 and is based on a diverse range of sources, including the centralised Aboriginal Heritage Information Management System database.
The Aboriginal Heritage Information Management System (AHIMS) database provides an important tool to assist DECCW protect and conserve Aboriginal objects, places and features of cultural heritage value. The AHIMS database contains information on all reported Aboriginal objects, places and features of cultural heritage value in NSW, as well as a catalogue of all archaeological reports relating to Aboriginal cultural heritage. The AHIMS database currently contains detailed archaeological information on 55,385 objects, places and features of cultural heritage value and 9446 archaeological reports, representing a considerable increase from the 8971 records reported in the 2004 State of the Parks report. AHIMS is used by NSW government, industry and heritage professionals for land-use planning, regulation and conservation management, and by local Aboriginal communities to help support planning and decision-making for Aboriginal cultural heritage.
Although knowledge is improving, significant information gaps remain. This partly reflects DECCW's growing engagement with Aboriginal communities, growing awareness of issues of importance and need for further information on Aboriginal cultural heritage management. Over time, these gaps will reduce as DECCW continues to gather and disseminate information to support planning and decision-making.
Park managers report that more and more parks have a park specific planned approach to managing Aboriginal cultural heritage. Compared to 2004, this is resulting in fewer parks having increasing negative impacts to Aboriginal cultural heritage values.
Rock art conservation project, Kurin-gai Chase National Park "
DECCW is working with Aboriginal communities to conserve heritage places and improve management. Under Two Ways , Together: partnerships - a new way of doing business with Aboriginal people, DECCW has established over 100 Aboriginal positions for 18 joint management arrangements for parks. There have been 123 Aboriginal people formally appointed to boards of management and committees for joint managed parks over the past three years. At June 2010, a total of 263 Aboriginal staff were employed within the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Some of the work undertaken with Aboriginal communities includes projects that aim to sustain and invigorate Aboriginal culture in the present, such as helping: return Aboriginal remains and sacred objects to the Aboriginal community; Aboriginal people practise cultural activities on country; communities renew connections to, and knowledge of, country and culture. Many of the cultural camps organised by Aboriginal communities to pass on traditional knowledge and skills to their young people take place in national parks, sometimes at locations designated for this purpose. In many cases, Aboriginal communities have also played an important role in helping improve education material for park visitors.
For more information on how DECCW is working with Aboriginal communities to undertake park management (including joint management arrangements) see Working with and involving the community
- Foster public appreciation, understanding and enjoyment of cultural heritage through policy, research and publications that focus on assisting Aboriginal communities reclaim and renew cultural and spiritual practices, spiritual connections, family structures and identity.
- Develop partnerships for park visitor management with Aboriginal communities to present and interpret Aboriginal cultural heritage within parks, incorporating the provision of training, support and employment opportunities for Aboriginal communities.
- Continue to ensure that Aboriginal cultural heritage is considered as part of the development of Regional Operations Plans.
Page last updated: 27 February 2011