Memoranda of understanding

This type of joint agreement involves a voluntary collaborative approach to park management that incorporates statements of the intention and goodwill of parties involved.

Sandstone Caves, Pilliga Nature ReserveA memorandum of understanding (MOU) is a voluntary agreement between two or more parties, in this case between the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (the department) and Aboriginal communities. An MOU can formalise the terms of a relationship, or set an agreed way of operating between the parties, but is not legally binding.

Negotiating an MOU

There are no legislative requirements that regulate the negotiation of an MOU, but it must be consistent with the requirements of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 for managing parks and reserves.

The Aboriginal community and the department can enter into a negotiation process when agreed by both parties. Negotiations are between the department and the Aboriginal community. The department may negotiate an MOU with any group of Aboriginal people who have an interest in the management of a park or reserve.

MOU negotiations between the department and other parties should follow the principles and approaches outlined in the department’s Aboriginal Community Engagement Framework and Cultural Heritage Community Consultation Policy (internal documents available to staff).


An MOU may address:

  • Aboriginal community access to a park or reserve for cultural activities
  • Aboriginal community participation in park management, including setting up an Aboriginal advisory group for the park to support greater participation of the Aboriginal community in park management
  • Aboriginal cultural heritage management and protection
  • employment, education and training opportunities for Aboriginal people.

An MOU does not:

  • resolve native title issues
  • grant Aboriginal ownership of land
  • involve payment of rent or compensation to Aboriginal people.

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