Advocating Aboriginal Heritage Conservation and Management Through the Land Development Process—An Example from New South Wales, Australia

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Despite Australia’s vastness, pressures on land use have resulted in the rapid growth and associated urban development particularly in Australia’s major cities, such as Sydney and Melbourne. New South Wales’ (NSW) State government has addressed key political issues, such as housing shortages, through the release of green field land surrounding the existing urban fringe.
In Sydney, the recent green field land releases saw a ‘green-belt’ of agricultural land, previously established in the 1950s as a buffer to urban development, released for housing development. These high-level land releases were undertaken without specific consideration of Aboriginal heritage sites or places and have, in general, led to a holistic and widespread impact to previously unrecorded Aboriginal heritage sites. The social impact on Aboriginal communities has been substantial, because Aboriginal sites and places have been destroyed through soil stripping, authorised by the issue of impact permits. In general the local Aboriginal communities have not been able to stop or influence the course of development, and as a result, in some areas, Aboriginal heritage sites are becoming scare due to cumulative impacts.
The East Leppington precinct, in southwest Sydney, was approached from a different perspective. This land release and consequential development sought to understand the Aboriginal and historical heritage values inherent in the area prior to commencing the urban planning process.
The information from the analysis of the Aboriginal cultural landscape, archaeological excavations and community consultation underpinned a values assessment that mapped Aboriginal cultural values, including intangible social values. This mapping was used to develop an urban residential design that respected and incorporated key heritage aspects—both Aboriginal and historical. The outcome was a residential design that the Aboriginal community had influenced, and resulted in the conservation of key cultural heritage values.
This paper described the processes undertaken, along with the key issues experienced. It is the aim of the paper to demonstrate how land development may occur in a compatible manner when Aboriginal cultural heritage values and places are present.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2015 Internnational Austronesian Conference
Subtitle of host publicationTerritorial Governance and Cultural Heritage
Place of PublicationTaiwan
PublisherNational Taipei University of Education
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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