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Culture & Heritage

The Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 provides that Aboriginal Land Councils’ functions include the function to:

  1. Take action to protect the culture and heritage of Aboriginal persons in NSW, subject to any other law.
  2. To promote awareness in the community of the culture and heritage of Aboriginal persons in NSW.

Hunting, fishing and gathering

Local Aboriginal Land Councils may negotiate agreements to provide Aboriginal people access to lands for the purpose of hunting, fishing or gathering. However, any agreements must comply with other laws, rules, by-laws, regulations, ordinances or like instruments.

When agreements cannot be negotiated, access permits may be issued by the Court. The process to obtain a permit issued by the Court is set out in section 48 of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983.

Aboriginal Ownership

The Aboriginal ownership and joint management of national parks in NSW is a legal right available to Aboriginal people since 1997. In NSW, joint management is set out under Part 4A of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. The purpose of joint management is to create a partnership between Aboriginal people and the government to manage land of cultural significance and high conservation value. Title to the lands is transferred to an Aboriginal Land Council and the land is leased to the Minister for the Environment who pays an annual rent for the lease of the lands. Aboriginal Owners are central to the joint management of these lands by being a majority on boards of management that are set up by the scheme.

Register of Aboriginal Owners

“Aboriginal Owners” are those people whose name is entered in the Register of Aboriginal Owners kept by the Registrar ALRA as a register of persons with a cultural association with land in the state. The Registrar notes the location and the nature of a person’s cultural association. The Registrar must give priority to registering Aboriginal people for lands listed in Schedule 14 to the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 or land subject to a land claim under 36A of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983.

Currently, there are almost 900 registered Aboriginal owners for Mutawintji National Park, Mount Grenfell Historic Site, Biamanga and Gulaga National Parks, Worimi Conservation Lands and Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park.

1. Lands listed on Schedule 14 of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974

There are currently seven areas of conservation reserve identified as culturally significant to Aboriginal people and of high conservation value. These lands are listed in Schedule 14 to the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974:

2. Lands subject to an Aboriginal Land Claim under 36A of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983

Lands that are claimed by an Aboriginal Land Council that are refused because they are needed for the essential public purpose of nature conservation, may come under a joint management arrangement in accordance with section 36A of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983. There are currently two areas of land subject this arrangement:

The Registrar is to use his or her best endeavours to maintain a Register of Aboriginal Owners, being persons with a cultural association with land in NSW. However, the Act also specifies that the Registrar is to give priority to the names of Aboriginal persons who have a cultural association with:

  1. Lands listed in schedule 14 of the National Parks & Wildlife Ac 1974 (as listed above); and
  2. Lands to which section 36A of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 applies that being lands having nature conservation value (as noted above).

For further information visit:

The Registrar, Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 www.oalra.nsw.gov.au
The Department of Environment and Climate Change www.environment.nsw.gov.au