Protecting our Places

The Protecting our Places program encourages and empowers Aboriginal communities to protect, conserve and restore landscapes and waterways important to them.

Applications for the 2021 round are now closed.


This program is designed to empower and provide opportunities for Aboriginal organisations to undertake projects that:

  • contribute to ongoing sustainable management of significant Aboriginal cultural landscapes in New South Wales
  • contribute to healthier environments and communities
  • develop the project management capabilities of Aboriginal groups
  • encourage new collaborations and positive relationships with other organisations, government and stakeholders.

Project stages

Projects under the Protecting our Places program are implemented over two stages:

  • Stage 1 – planning from 6 to 12 months in duration.
  • Stage 2 – implementation from 18 to 24 months in duration.

Note: Projects do not automatically progress from Stage 1 to Stage 2. After Stage 1, projects are assessed against set criteria for approval to progress to Stage 2.

See the 2021 Program Guide (PDF 1.1MB) for more information.

Funding available

Grants of up to $80,000 are available over the 2 stages:

  • Stage 1 Planning – up to $12,000 for project planning.
  • Stage 2 Implementation – up to $67,000 to complete the project on-ground works, plus $1000 quarantined for the mandatory financial audit, totalling $68,000.

Note: A funding cap of up to 30% must be allocated towards the employment of a Project Manager to manage and coordinate all project activities across both stages of the project.

See the 2021 Program Guide (PDF 1.1MB) for more information.

For each grant recipient, we will coordinate and deliver face to face workshops for two key staff/participants in your project at the beginning of Stage 1. In addition, we strongly encourage grantees to invite an Elder to participate in these workshops to act as both a community representative and a holder of relevant cultural authority.

These workshops will provide you with:

  • support and guidance to develop a plan specific to your project
  • mentoring, advice and networking opportunities
  • an understanding of the Trust's reporting requirements.

Matching funding

You do not have to contribute matching funds, however, if you can your application may be more competitive. You can make:

  • financial contributions – money from your organisation or project partners
  • in-kind contributions – donations of goods, services, staff time, expertise, or use of facilities or equipment.

Types of activities funded

The 2021 Program Guide (PDF 1.1MB) explains what we will fund.

Different activities are eligible in each stage – planning and implementation. No on-ground works will be funded during the Stage 1 Planning stage.

Support available

The Trust encourages all eligible Aboriginal organisations to apply regardless of your project management experience as support to develop and deliver project plan is available. In the planning stage of the project, we can help you:

  • identify your project key stakeholders
  • determine what permits, licenses, approvals you may need
  • prepare a Project Implementation Plan (which includes how to monitor and evaluate your project).

We provide:

  • project management and training specific to your project
  • support to help you develop your Project Implementation Plan
  • access to online tools, resources and support for continued help over 12 months
  • periodic project management support and advice over the life of the project.

At any time during the project you can ask us for advice about managing the project.

The following NSW Aboriginal community organisations/groups can apply:

  • NSW Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs)
  • NSW Aboriginal Corporations registered under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006
  • NSW Incorporated Associations registered under Associations Incorporation Act 2009
  • Non-distributing NSW Co-operatives registered under Co-operatives National Law and associated Acts
  • NSW Registered Native Title Body Corporates (RNTBC).

Unincorporated Aboriginal organisations and groups can still apply, however, will need to be supported by another organisation (a project administrator). See the 2021 Program Guide (PDF 1.1MB) for more details.

Who can’t apply?

We won’t fund applications from:

  • non-Aboriginal groups, organisations or companies
  • individuals
  • industry joint ventures
  • profit-distributing corporations or co-operatives (limited by shares).

If you are unsure if your organisation can apply, contact us.

Who can be involved in the project?

All projects must be led by an Aboriginal organisation. However, you should consider partnering with relevant groups or individuals. These could be:

  • other Aboriginal groups
  • local councils
  • state agencies (e.g. Department of Planning, Industry and Environment)
  • non-government organisations
  • local community groups
  • universities
  • private businesses
  • landholders.

You must show that all partners have a real role in the project.

For more information about partnerships, see the 2021 Program Guide (PDF 1.1MB).

If you can’t find partners, your organisation can still apply for a grant as long as it is eligible.

Applying for a second grant

You can apply for a grant even if you already have an active project funded under the Protecting our Places program.

If your first project is still active, we will assess your ability to manage and deliver more than one project at a time.

If your first project is completed, we will consider how well you managed and delivered it.

We assess all applications against specific criteria. See the 2021 Program Guide (PDF 1.1MB) for details.

Applications are assessed by an independent technical review committee with members from the general community, industry and government. Most members of the committee are Aboriginal.

Before you submit your application, check that it answers these questions:

  • What is the environmental outcome you want to achieve?
  • What types of activities do you intend to carry out?
  • What planning processes will you carry out?
  • How will you monitor implementation and project risks?
  • Does your project represent good value for money (that is, acceptable expenditure to achieve a realistic environmental benefit)?
  • Do you have the support of the community and other stakeholders in the project?


Getting the planning right at the beginning will help you deliver your project, report on its progress and demonstrate how it improves the environment of New South Wales.

Your grant application will cover much of the information you will need to consider in your planning, so use that as a starting point.

If we give you a grant, you will have to attend two project management workshops. At these workshops, we will help you further develop your Project Implementation Plan and build your capacity to deliver the plan.

Your project implementation plan will set out the monitoring and reporting activities you will have to carry out during your project. See the 2021 Program Guide (PDF 1.1MB) for details.

Progress reports and final report

As you move through your project you will have to submit progress reports. These will outline what you have achieved and what you will do next.

Progress reports are reviewed by technical experts who ensure you're on the right track and give you feedback or advice. After your report is reviewed and accepted the Trust will pay your next grant instalment.

When your project finishes you will have to submit a final report that says what it has achieved.

Financial reports

When you complete Stage 1 of your project (the planning phase) you will have to submit a Stage 1 Financial Report (DOCX 49KB). We must approve this before you can start Stage 2 of your project (the implementation phase).

You also need to submit an audited financial report as a part of your final project report. We will set aside $1000 of your grant money for this purpose.

If you need to rearrange your project’s budget, you must apply for a budget variation.

See the financial reporting page for more details.

Other documents

You may also have to submit some other documents or evidence. They’ll be listed in the grant agreement we will send you if your application is approved.

Where to send reports

Email reports and other documents to (50MB limit).

Acknowledgement requirement

Please acknowledge the funding you have received from the Trust in all publications and materials related to your project. We ask that you say:

This project has been assisted by the New South Wales Government through its Environmental Trust.

You also need to use the New South Wales Government logo. See Funding acknowledgement and logos for details.

If your organisation is unincorporated, or you need help managing your grant, you can use another organisation as the project administrator.

The project administrator becomes responsible for overseeing the financial management of your grant. Your organisation remains the lead applicant for the grant (the grantee).

The project administrator must be an incorporated or registered organisation.

If we give you a grant and you use an administrator:

  • the administrator signs the grant agreement with us (the Environmental Trust) on your organisation’s behalf
  • we make the grant payments to the administrator
  • the administrator prepares all the financial reports and makes any payments related to the project
  • your organisation is still responsible for carrying out the project.

Aboriginal land and cultural heritage

NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC)

NSWALC can tell you about:

  • the land your project is on
  • how to develop your project in conjunction with local Aboriginal communities and organisations.

NTSCORP and the National Native Title Tribunal

These bodies can tell you if the location of your proposed project is affected by native title.

Department of Planning, Industry and Environment

We can provide information about a number of aspects of Aboriginal cultural heritage.

Conservation and rehabilitation

Local Land Services (LLSs)

Your Local Land Service can tell you about:

  • natural resource management priorities
  • sources of project funding
  • broader regional programs.

Local councils

Your local council can tell you about:

  • its local environmental plans
  • successful environmental projects in your district.

Australian Association of Bush Regenerators

Greening Australia


  • contacts for local Landcare groups
  • information to help with restoration and rehabilitation.

Education projects

The organisations below can help you:

  • develop your project
  • reach your target audience
  • contribute to wider projects for Aboriginal communities
  • use Indigenous language correctly
  • document oral history.

Aboriginal Educational Consultative Group (AECG)

Federation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Languages (FATSIL)


  • help you develop community-based educational programs
  • provide resources for community language programs.

NSW Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee

The council:

  • offers information on interpretation projects it has funded inNew South Wales
  • can advise on how to register and protect heritage items.

The most recent round of the program was in 2021. In this round we:

  • received 22 applications requesting a total of $1,624,023
  • awarded grants to 8 projects totalling $557,543
  • included in this round, 2 reserve projects from 2020 was awarded $119,926.

Project summaries

We have all our contestable grants programs independently evaluated from time to time. Inca Consulting evaluated the Protecting Our Places program in late 2015. The evaluation focused on the delivery of the program, and the projects it funded, during 2009–2014.

We considered and accepted the final evaluation report (PDF 766KB) in March 2016.

The report raised many issues, and we developed an administrative response (PDF 365KB) to address them.

In 2017 we made changes to the Protecting Our Places program, including changes to the funding model.