What information can you obtain from AHIMS?

The Aboriginal Heritage Information Management System (AHIMS) contains information and records about Aboriginal objects that have been reported to the Director General of the Department of Premier and Cabinet. It also contains information about Aboriginal Places which have been declared by the Minister for the Environment to have special significance with respect to Aboriginal culture. AHIMS refers to these recorded Aboriginal objects and declared Aboriginal Places as 'Aboriginal sites'.

AHIMS Web Services is a system that allows users to search information about recorded Aboriginal objects and declared Aboriginal Places in a much faster and efficient way via the internet.

Why would I need to search AHIMS?

Before carrying out an activity you should think about how it might affect Aboriginal sites. For some activities the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act) requires you to exercise due diligence to check if Aboriginal sites will be harmed by your activities. Checking AHIMS is a part of due diligence.

There are also other reasons why a person may wish to use AHIMS:

  • conveyance prior to purchase or sale of a property
  • Aboriginal heritage research, studies and assessments
  • fire hazard reduction certificates
  • Aboriginal community initiatives.

How do I use AHIMS for the purpose of due diligence?

The Due Diligence Code of Practice for the Protection of Aboriginal Objects in NSW (PDF 1MB) can be used by individuals or organisations considering undertaking activities which could harm Aboriginal objects. It sets out the process to follow so that a reasonable determination can be made whether or not Aboriginal objects will be harmed by an activity, whether further investigation is warranted and whether the application requires an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit (AHIP). The Code also lists industry-specific due diligence codes, such as for the minerals and forestry industries, that have been adopted by NPW Regulation and can be followed instead of the more generic code, where relevant.

A step in the due diligence process is checking for Aboriginal sites on AHIMS. This can be done by logging in to AHIMS web services and conducting a free AHIMS Basic Search in the area of your proposed activity. If the results of the initial AHIMS Basic Search indicate that AHIMS contains information about an Aboriginal site in the area of your proposed activity, you must request an Extensive Search. For the purposes of due diligence, you may rely on the AHIMS Basic Search results for 12 months.

What will the results of an AHIMS Basic Search tell me?

Your AHIMS Basic Search will tell you whether there are any Aboriginal sites recorded in the search area.

An Aboriginal site that is recorded on AHIMS could be:

  • an Aboriginal object (as defined under the NPW Act)
  • a group (i.e. a collection, scattering, deposit, etc.) of Aboriginal objects
  • an area of land containing Aboriginal objects
  • a 'potential' archaeological deposit which is an area where, based on previous investigation, Aboriginal objects are likely to be present
  • a declared Aboriginal Place (as defined under the NPW Act) which may or may not contain Aboriginal objects
  • an Aboriginal site that has been partially or completely destroyed under the conditions of a past consent.

How is an AHIMS Basic Search carried out?

To conduct a free AHIMS Basic Search, you will be asked to enter a single lot and DP reference for your parcel of land or the easting and northing coordinates of the area of the proposed activity (minimum and maximum coordinates are needed to form a rectangular search area). AHIMS web services will provide an instant response that will show if Aboriginal sites are recorded in the search area.

An AHIMS Basic Search can be conducted as part of your due diligence process.

What do I do with the results of an AHIMS Basic Search?

If the results of your AHIMS Basic Search indicate that there is an Aboriginal site in the area of your proposed activity, you will need to seek further information to determine the precise nature of the Aboriginal site. This would involve conducting an Extensive Search.

If the results of your AHIMS Basic Search indicate that there are no Aboriginal sites in the area of the proposed activity, you would not be required to carry out an Extensive Search. However, you may need to consider whether Aboriginal objects are likely to be in the area by looking at the landscape features. You should look at the Due Diligence Code of Practice (PDF 1MB) if you are conducting your search as a part of the due diligence process.

How do I request an Extensive Search?

To conduct an Extensive Search, you will need to enter a single lot and DP reference for your parcel of land or the easting and northing coordinates of the area of the proposed activity (minimum and maximum coordinates are needed to form a rectangular search area).

If you have already conducted an AHIMS Basic Search, you do not need to re-enter the search coordinates for the Extensive Search as the system will use the same ones. Additionally for an Extensive Search you are also able to use GIS boundaries of the area of the proposed activity.

The results of an Extensive Search will be provided to you in the form of an AHIMS report in PDF format, which will contain further information about the Aboriginal site, such as information about site features, the site location and the name of the site. These will be available to you within 3 working days for an express search and within 10 working days for a standard search.

How do I use AHIMS web services?

If you wish to conduct searches on AHIMS you will need to logon to AHIMS web services using the internet.

First time users need to register using an email address. You will be asked to fill in some details and a password. If you have previously used the system, you will need to enter your email address and password. You will then need to enter the details of the search or service you want to request.

What other searches or services can I request?

In addition to an AHIMS Basic and Extensive Searches, you can also request copies of site cards which are prepared when an Aboriginal site is recorded. You can also request archaeological reports or book in for an archive visit.

Does searching AHIMS web services cost anything?

AHIMS Basic Searches are free of charge. All other requests incur a fee as described in the AHIMS service fee table below.

AHIMS service

What you getFee (GST exempt)

Report or 
site card

PDF report prepared by AHIMS staff. PDF emailed to client, generally after an AHIMS database search $0.40 per page
(minimum charge $20.00 if not associated with a search service)

Archive visit

Archive visit Access to AHIMS archive Free
Archive visit photocopy or PDF Photocopies or PDF $0.40 per page
(minimum charge $20.00 if not associated with a search service)


AHIMS basic search Cover letter Free
AHIMS extensive search PDF or Excel AHIMS report plus cover letter $60.00
AHIMS/GIS search PDF AHIMS report $60.00
Express search surcharge Service provided in 2 working days $50.00


Data Licence Agreement (DLA) Use of or access to data for up to two years $210.00
Resupply of data from DLA Resupply of data based on current DLA (includes the new search) $60.00


Processing surcharge Specialist services that cannot be processed under normal service conditions $90.00 per hour

Waived fees

OEH has agreed that the following users can have AHIMS services fees waived:

  • Aboriginal community persons or organisations
  • Catchment Management Authorities (NSW)
  • NSW Rural Fire Service
  • Forestry Corporation of NSW
  • NSW Office of Water
  • Land and Property Management Authority
  • Government Property NSW
  • Planning and Infrastructure
  • Aboriginal Affairs
  • Office of the Registrar Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983
  • Department of Premier and Cabinet (NSW)
  • Department of Primary Industries
  • Agriculture NSW
  • Fisheries NSW
  • NSW Food Authority
  • Biosecurity NSW
  • Catchment and Lands
  • Environment Protection Authority

What are Aboriginal Heritage Information Licence Agreements?

An Aboriginal Heritage Information Licence Agreement (AHILA) is a signed agreement between an organisation or an individual (the Licensee) who has requested Aboriginal heritage information and the Office of Environment and Heritage (the Licensor).

An AHILA lists the terms under which Aboriginal heritage information will be released by the Licensor and lists the Licensee obligations in using the information.

An AHILA is required when requests for Aboriginal heritage information cover a large area or the information is deemed to be of a sensitive nature. This might include:

  • all the recorded sites in a local government area or particular region
  • all recorded sites in proximity to a major development project (such as road or other infrastructure network).

Please note that most AHILAs are completed within a 4 to 8 week time period. This allows a reasonable time frame for Aboriginal organisations to provide endorsement or comment on the release of the information.

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Page last updated: 29 March 2017