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How it works:

Aboriginal Due Diligence assessments

Aboriginal objects (Aboriginal artefacts) are protected by the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act), however the NPW Act provides that an individual or organisation who exercises due diligence in determining that their activities will not harm Aboriginal objects has a defence against prosecution under the Act. 

At Unearthed Archaeology & Heritage we can undertake your Aboriginal Due Diligence assessment for you. 


Approved Development Application (DA) conditions or Secretary's Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs) may require that an Aboriginal Due Diligence Assessment is undertaken. An Aboriginal Due Diligence Assessment is undertaken in accordance with the Office of Environment & Heritage (OEH)'s Due Diligence Code of Practice for the Protection of Aboriginal Objects in New South Wales

The Due Diligence Code of Practice provides a process to determine whether or not Aboriginal objects will be or are likely to be harmed by an activity. 

A report must be produced that details the outcomes of the due diligence process for submission to Council. 

The Due Diligence process follows five steps, as outlined below: 

Step 1: Will the activity disturb the ground surface?

    Does the proposed activity (construction, demolition, installation of new services, etc.) disturb the ground surface? That is,      will the proposed works impact on the ground surface in any way, big or small. Ground disturbance includes bore holes,          minor levelling, excavation, trenching, removal of vegetation or any other activity which in any way disturbs the ground. 

Step 2a: Search the AHIMS database and use any other sources of information of which you are already aware. 

    A search of OEH's Aboriginal Heritage Information Management System (AHIMS) must be undertaken to determine                whether any Aboriginal sites have previously been recorded in or within the vicinity of the area of proposed activity. 

    Any other relevant sources of information should be searched to determine whether or not Aboriginal objects or places are      likely to be present within the area of proposed activity. 

Step 2b: Activities in areas whee landscape features indicate the presence of Aboriginal objects. 

    Regardless of whether the AHIMS search and other research has indicated that Aboriginal objects have been                          previously recorded  within the area of proposed activity, further examination is required to determine if Aboriginal objects        may be present within the area. 

    Aboriginal objects are often located within particular landscape features and therefore it is necessary to examine if                  landscape features utilised by Aboriginal people are present within the area or vicinity of the area proposed for activity. As      such, if your proposed activity is: 

  • within 200 metres of waters (including but not limited to waterholes, streams, lakes, rivers, creeks, wetlands, lagoons, swamps, tidal waters including the ocean, etc.); or

  • located within a sand dune system; or

  • located on a ridge top, ridge line or headland; or

  • located within 200 metres below or above a cliff face; or

  • within 20 metres of or in a cave, rock shelter, or a cave mouth, 

    and is on undisturbed land, or If there are registered Aboriginal sites within the area of proposed activity, then proceed to        Step 3.

    If Steps 2a and 2b have determined that there is no likelihood of Aboriginal objects being present within the area of                  proposed works, then you can proceed with caution and without applying for an AHIP. 

Step 3: Can you avoid harm to the object or disturbance of the landscape feature?

     If Step 2a or 2b have determined that there is, or is likely to be, Aboriginal objects present within the area of proposed            works, can you avoid harm to these objects? That is, can you move the location of the proposed activity or can you alter          the proposed activity to avoid disturbing the ground surface and therefore disturbing the Aboriginal objects. 

    If you can avoid harm to Aboriginal objects or disturbance to the landscape feature, then works can proceed with caution        and without an AHIP. 

    If you can't avoid disturbing Aboriginal objects, proceed to Step 4. 

Step 4: Desktop assessment and visual inspection.

    A desktop assessment, which includes a review of the AHIMS results, AHIMS site cards, archaeological assessments            undertaken within or in the vicinity of the area of proposed works and any other relevant information must be undertaken. 

    A visual inspection or site inspection must be undertaken to locate and record any Aboriginal objects, sites and places            within the area of proposed works. 

    If the desktop assessment and/or visual/site inspection determine that Aboriginal object are not, or are not likely to be,            present in the area of proposed works, then works can proceed with caution and without an AHIP. 

    If the desktop assessment or visual/site inspection determine that Aboriginal object are, or are likely to be, present in the        area of proposed works, then further investigation and impact assessment is required. At Unearthed Archaeology &                Heritage, we undertake the further investigation and impact assessment and incorporate that into the Due Diligence                Assessment report. 

Step 5: Further investigations and impact assessment. 

   At Unearthed Archaeology & Heritage we include the further investigation and impact assessment in the Due Diligence          Assessment report saving our clients time and money. We will provide management recommendations, including whether    or not it will be necessary to apply for an AHIP (click here for details on the process of applying for an AHIP). 

Contact us for more information about Aboriginal Due Diligence assessments.

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