Aboriginal Places range from small ceremonial sites to lagoons and mountains. They can have spiritual, historical, social, educational, natural resource use or other types of significance to Aboriginal people.
When a significant place is formally declared an Aboriginal Place, it is protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.
An Aboriginal Place can be on public or private land, and a declaration does not change the land tenure.
Anyone can propose an area of land to be considered for an Aboriginal Place declaration by completing the Aboriginal Place Proposal Form (DOCX 60KB).
After a proposal is made
An initial investigation is done to gather information and determine an appropriate conservation option for the area. For example, protecting an area as an Aboriginal Place or a State Heritage Register listing. The assessment involves:
- research including a review of Aboriginal Heritage Information Management System records
- consultation with the landowner and other key stakeholders
- site visits
- advice from the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee.
If declaring an Aboriginal Place is considered to be the most appropriate conservation option for the area, an assessment to determine the special significance of the site is done in partnership with Aboriginal communities and landowners. This will involve further research and consultation, and consideration by the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee.
There is no statutory timeframe to start an assessment and it will depend on how many proposals are under consideration at any one time.
Once commenced, the time needed to complete the assessment will vary and depends on several factors such as the number of stakeholders involved in consultation and the complexity of the proposal.
At the completion of the assessment, a report is prepared for the Minister.
The Minister for Environment and Heritage may decide to declare an Aboriginal Place. The declaration takes effect upon the publishing of an order in the NSW Government Gazette.
While the declaration of an Aboriginal Place does not require development of a management plan, it is strongly encouraged and there are guidelines to assist with this process.
Nominate significant areas for the State Heritage Register
Significant Aboriginal sites may also be nominated for listing on the State Heritage Register. If an Aboriginal site satisfies the criteria for State heritage significance it may be nominated for a State Heritage Register listing. This is a separate nomination process and form to complete.