Under the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Rights Act, it is the function of every land council ‘to promote and protect Aboriginal culture and the heritage of Aboriginal persons in its area’.



Metro’s Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Unit is primarily responsible for the conservation and land management of Aboriginal sites & relics within our boundaries.

Over 4500 sites of cultural significance are registered within Metro’s boundaries, with most of these sites located in northern boundaries of MLALC.

There are many more unregistered sites of cultural significance within our boundaries. It is Metro’s role to protect, care and manage the sites not only for the benefit of our members, but for all Australians to appreciate for generations to come.

The Cultural Heritage Unit also promotes the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage by educating the broader community about the significance of Aboriginal culture, heritage and sites. Our Cultural Education Officer regularly conducts talks, tours and training programs teaching visitors about Aboriginal culture and their relationship to the land and natural environment.
Before the coming of the Europeans, Aboriginal people lived all through the Sydney Basin. As a result of this widespread occupation, any development which involves the disturbance of the natural ground surface has the potential to damage or destroy Aboriginal objects such as axes, grinding stones, flints and engravings. To safeguard against a breach of both the National Parks and Wildlife Act and the Environmental Protection Act Metro’s trained staff can conduct a Cultural Heritage Site Assessment for developers prior to the lodgment of a Development Application.
In the nineteenth century it was common practice to steal the bodies of Aboriginal people for research and display in museums and other scientific institutions. This practice caused great distress to Aboriginal people who believe that not being buried in your own country means your spirit can’t be released. Scientists at the time mistakenly believed that Aboriginal people were a dying race. They thought that studying our skulls and other body parts would give them clues about human evolution. Although these ideas and practices have long been discredited, the remains of thousands of Aboriginal people continue to be held in museums and universities in Australia and around the world. Metro is committed to returning the remains of Sydney Aboriginal people back to their own country. We recently participated in the largest ever repatriation of Aboriginal remains from Australian Museums to a metropolitan Aboriginal community in NSW. The remains of more than 70 Aboriginal people were reburied in special resting places within national parks around Sydney. This program is continuing.
Metro’s Cultural Heritage Unit also carries out:
  • Aboriginal Sites Identification, Assessment & Surveying

  • Aboriginal Archaeological Excavation

  • Repatriation of Skeletal Remains and Artefacts

  • Monitoring of Aboriginal Sites

  • Protection & Restoration of Aboriginal Sites

  • Welcome to Country