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Cultural Heritage

This page highlights the difference between land rights / native title and cultural heritage and provides a list of relevant Commonwealth and State legislation. It also provides advice on where to go to find out who to talk to about cultural heritage.

  1. Relevant laws and standards. Communicate this with a map of Australia with pop out boxes listing different laws and standards in each jurisdiction.
  2. Relevant entities: Map of Australia with lists of the relevant entities who manage cultural heritage (i.e. in Victoria, Registered Aboriginal Parties)

Include offshore areas too (i.e. Underwater Cultural Heritage Act)


First Nations cultural heritage is managed primarily by the states and territories through various legislative and policy settings.


There is as yet no nationally coordinated approach to the management of cultural heritage. 

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) is currently being reviewed. The EPBC Act currently protects the National Heritage List including First Nations, natural, and historic places that are of outstanding heritage value to the country.


Cultural heritage is primarily dealt with by the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. 
Other protections are afforded by:

The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee is established under section 27 of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 to advise Government and the Department on matters affecting First Nations cultural heritage. The Committee may make recommendations on any matter relating to the identification, assessment and measures to improve the care, control and management of First Nations cultural heritage in NSW.

The Aboriginal Heritage Impact Management System (AHIMS) is established and regulated by the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 and holds information about recorded First Nations sites, objects and declared Aboriginal places in NSW. In 2020, AHIMS recorded 100,000 records of objects and places.

It is an offence under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 to damage an Aboriginal object or place. 

If you are proposing works or an activity that may cause harm to Aboriginal cultural heritage, you need to apply for and be granted an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit (AHIP) before the work or activity can take place. The Due Diligence Code of Practice for the Protection of Aboriginal Objects in NSW can be used by individuals or organisations considering undertaking activities that could harm First Nations objects. The guide, Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Consultation Requirements for Proponents sets out requirements to consult with Aboriginal people who hold knowledge about the significance of Aboriginal cultural heritage relevant to an AHIP application. 

The First Nations Guideline - Case Studies on First Nations community engagement for renewable energy projectsrequired under Section 4 of the Electricity Infrastructure Investment Act 2020, set minimum standards for how energy infrastructure proponents negotiate and engage with First Nations peoples and communities about employment and income opportunities.








Further reading: