The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions Parks and Wildlife Service recognises that Aboriginal people are the traditional custodians of the lands and waters that it manages, and supports Aboriginal people connecting with country. The ability to carry out cultural activities on country is an important part of Aboriginal culture and connection to the land.

Legislation was changed in 2012 to extend opportunities for Aboriginal people to access department-managed lands and waters to carry out customary activities. See pdfGuide to Aboriginal customary activities on Parks and wildlife- managed lands and waters17.92 MB to find out more.

Activities are considered to be done for an Aboriginal customary purpose if they involve traditional practices to do with:

  • making and eating food
  • making and using medicine
  • practising artistic, ceremonial or other cultural activities
  • doing other things involved with any of the above, like using water and other natural resources such as ochre, stones and soil for ceremonies.

No activity is considered customary if it is done for financial gain or reward.

The types of customary activities Aboriginal people are now able to do on department-managed lands and waters include:

  • camping outside of designated camp sites for 28 days, or up to three months for ceremonial events
  • lighting small fires for camping, cooking or smoking ceremonies
  • undertaking ceremonial activities, including taking ochre and water, creating or maintaining rock art, moving natural features and disturbing the ground and plants
  • using boats on rivers and lakes in nature reserves and marine reserves
  • hunting and gathering food and medicine
  • entering restricted caves
  • accessing additional areas with vehicles
  • bringing dogs into additional areas.

None of the changes to the law affect native title rights and interests.

If you have any questions contact:

Aboriginal Engagement and Heritage Unit
17 Dick Perry Avenue
Kensington, WA 6151
Locked Bag 104
Bentley Delivery Centre, WA 6983
Phone: (08) 9219 9000

There are some circumstances and places where customary activities could have significant impacts on environmentally sensitive areas or on public safety. To manage these impacts, written permission from the local Parks and Wildlife Service office is needed for some activities in some places. To apply for written permission, Aboriginal people should contact their local Parks and Wildlife Service office or complete the  pdfapplication form493.57 KB and fax, post or hand it in to a Parks and Wildlife Service office.

More information