Protection under state and territory laws

Australia's state and territory governments have broad responsibilities for recognising and protecting Australia's Indigenous heritage, including archaeological sites.

Indigenous heritage can be protected under state or territory heritage laws to varying degrees. Usually state and territory laws automatically protect various types of areas or objects, while enabling developers to apply for a permit or certificate to allow them to proceed with activities that might affect Indigenous heritage.

Jurisdiction Principal Indigenous heritage legislation
Australian Capital Territory

Heritage Act 2004
Heritage Objects Act 1991

New South Wales

Heritage Act 1977
National Parks and Wildlife Amendment (Aboriginal Ownership) Act 1996

Northern Territory

Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act 1989
Heritage Conservation Act 1991


Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003
Torres Strait Islander Cultural Heritage Act 2003

South Australia

Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988


Aboriginal Relics Act 1975


Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006
Heritage Act 1994

Western Australia

Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972

Copies of these laws can be downloaded from .

Locating places protected under state and territory laws

Most of Australia's states and territories maintain registers of Indigenous heritage sites. Developers need to be aware that these registers may not be comprehensive records of all the Indigenous sites that are protected under state and territory laws. Where there is a risk that a planned activity could have adverse impacts on Indigenous heritage it is advisable to contact the state or territory government agency that is responsible for protecting Indigenous heritage and maintaining the register.

State Register Maintained by

Heritage Register 

Department of Territory and Municipal Services 


State Heritage Register 

Heritage Branch 
Department of Planning


Register of Sacred Sites 

Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority 


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Heritage Register 

Department of Natural Resources and Water 


Register of Aboriginal Sites and Objects 

Department of the Premier and Cabinet 



Tasmanian Aboriginal Heritage Office 
Department of Environment, Parks, Heritage and the Arts


Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Register 

Aboriginal Affairs Victoria 
Department of Planning and Community Development


Register of Aboriginal Sites 

Department of Indigenous Affairs