Aboriginal culture and history

We work with Aboriginal communities to protect, share and celebrate Aboriginal cultural heritage in NSW.

Aboriginal people have lived in NSW for more than 40,000 years. There's evidence of this heritage everywhere - in rock art, stone artefacts and sites across the state. Aboriginal cultural heritage is a living, ongoing thing that is deeply linked to the entire environment.

Aboriginal places

Aboriginal places are gazetted under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. We are responsible for working with Aboriginal communities to value and protect all aspects of Aboriginal cultural heritage. Everything in the landscape can have special meaning for Aboriginal people. Aboriginal heritage is inseparable from the natural environment - from individual plants and animals to ecosystems. The land and waterways are associated with dreaming stories and cultural learning that links Aboriginal people with who they are and where they belong.

Learn more about places of significance to Aboriginal people in New South Wales

Search Aboriginal places using the NSW Heritage Inventory

Land management

Three land management information guides outline the range and type of government programs available to assist Aboriginal groups access and use public lands, and assist Aboriginal and other landholders manage land access and natural resources. Find out how we regulate Aboriginal cultural heritage.

Under joint management arrangements, OEH and local Aboriginal people share responsibility for the management of parks and reserves.

Protecting Aboriginal culture and heritage

Aboriginal cultural heritage is legally protected in NSW. Protecting Aboriginal heritage means far more than looking after sites in parks or artefacts in museums. Aboriginal people access land to renew cultural learning. And they have to be involved and consulted in the conservation of the natural environment.

Working to Protect Aboriginal Culture and Heritage is a guide illustrating the ways the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) commits to the 'Aboriginal people, the environment and conservation principles' of spirituality and connection, cultural resource use, wellbeing, caring for Country and doing business with Aboriginal people.

OEH policies and programs

The Aboriginal Languages Policy forms part of the NSW Government Aboriginal Languages Strategic Plan and guides OEH staff and consultants employed by OEH in the use of Aboriginal languages.

The Aboriginal Regional Assessment Policy explains OEH's position and principles when undertaking Aboriginal Regional Assessments, to ensure the values of Aboriginal communities are included.

The Management of Aboriginal Cultural Material Policy and Guideline guide OEH staff in the professional and culturally appropriate management of Aboriginal cultural material.

Aboriginal Places can be declared by the Minister for Environment to protect areas and sites that are important to Aboriginal communities.

OEH's Repatriation Program has a large collection of Aboriginal skeletal remains and cultural material and is working on ways to return these to the communities they belong to.

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Page last updated: 30 November 2018