A Short History
Below is a short history of Aboriginal Affairs administration in NSW.
The Aboriginal Land Rights (Local Aboriginal Councils) Amendment Act 2016 passed through both Houses of Parliament providing
the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) with the power to issue improvement orders and, if required, to appoint specialist
advisors to Local Aboriginal Land Councils to improve compliance and build the capacity of LALCs.
The NSW Government announced a reparations package worth more than $73 million to survivors of past policies to remove
Aboriginal children from their families, in response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Reparations for the Stolen Generations.
Go to Parliaments Inquiry Details
The reparations scheme offers one-off payments to survivors, a healing fund to address intergenerational trauma, and direct
financial support for survivors’ groups. The package is the foundation of the NSW Government’s response to the Parliamentary
Committee Inquiry into Reparations for the Stolen Generations.
Go to Stolen Generations
The NSW Government also announced NSW will become the first state in Australia to introduce landmark legislation to protect
traditional Aboriginal languages.
Go to Languages
The NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Amendment Act 2014 passed through both Houses of Parliament creating a new way for
Local Aboriginal Land Councils and the Minister for Lands to negotiate voluntary Aboriginal Land Agreements. The amendments
also clarify the way LALCs can establish and undertake business enterprises, including the creation of related entities.
The amendments came into operation on 1 July 2015.
Informed by the recommendations of the Ministerial Taskforce on Aboriginal Affairs, the NSW Government released OCHRE,
its current plan for Aboriginal Affairs. OCHRE stands for opportunity, choice, healing, responsibility, empowerment
and is symbolic of Aboriginal communities’ deep connection with Country.
Go to OCHRE
The Ministerial Taskforce on Aboriginal Affairs was established by the Premier and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs
in late 2011 to inform a new plan to improve education and employment outcomes for Aboriginal people in NSW and to
enhance service delivery to support these goals.
The Taskforce on Aboriginal Affairs brought together Cabinet Ministers, senior officials from the public service and key
Aboriginal representatives and specialists. It undertook two rounds of state-wide consultation with Aboriginal communities
The NSW Constitution Act 1902 was amended to read:
Parliament, on behalf of the People of New South Wales, acknowledges and honours the Aboriginal people as the State’s first people and nations.
Parliament, on behalf of the People of New South Wales, recognises that Aboriginal people, as the traditional custodians and occupants of the land in New South Wales, have a spiritual, social, cultural and economic relationship with their traditional lands and waters, and have made and continue to make a unique and lasting contribution to the identity of the State.
View the Act here
Important amendments to the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 were developed and came into operation on 31 March
2010, providing a defined regulatory framework for Local Aboriginal Land Councils to use and develop their land. This
was needed, given the increasingly complex land dealings LALCs are involved in.
The NSW Government committed to the employment of an additional 2,229 Aboriginal people in the public sector within four
The NSW Government and NSW Aboriginal Land Council agreed to a major water and sewerage partnership.
The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, apologised to members of the Stolen Generations.
Wellington Common was formally handed back to the Wellington Wiradjuri people.
Parts of Stockton Bight were handed back to the Worimi people and the Worimi Conservation Reserve was created.
A CD ROM, Aboriginal languages of NSW: An introduction for schools and communities was published and distributed
to all schools in NSW.
Biamanga and Gulaga National Parks, in the south coast region of NSW, were handed back their Aboriginal owners, the Yuin
The NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Amendment Act 2006 passed through both Houses of Parliament, strengthening the governance
and financial management of Aboriginal Land Councils and the capacity of Land Councils to deliver tangible benefits
to Aboriginal people in NSW. The amendments included the creation of a corporate structure with boards and a CEO with
defined roles. The amendments came into operation on 1 July 2007.
In Living Memory exhibition opened at The Rocks.
The Department of Aboriginal Affairs officially opened regional offices at Bourke, Tamworth, Wagga Wagga, Coffs Harbour
The NSW Government established the Aboriginal Trust Funds Reparation Scheme to repay unpaid wages to members of the Stolen
A review of the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 was announced, with special focus on land-dealing provisions,
land council governance, structure, representation and benefits.
Mount Grenfell Historic Site, about 50 kilometres from Cobar, in Central West NSW was returned to its Aboriginal owners,
the Ngiyampaa Wangaaypuwan people.