First Nations Peoples

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Designing with Country project

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The Designing with Country project was funded through a grant under the Metropolitan Greenspace Program, which supports councils to deliver projects that improve regional open space and community liveability as part of the NSW Government’s vision for a ‘Green Grid’ across Greater Sydney and the Central Coast.

Working with First Nations landscape designer Yerrabingin, local Councils, Sydney Water and community members, the project involved the development of a design framework to assist councils with creating public cultural works that connect community with Country in a more meaningful way.

The framework provides guidance on the use of landscaping, art, language, and other planning and design elements in a culturally sensitive and sustainable way to improve the health of Country. It also identifies locations for future projects that may include community and recreational spaces, tree plantings, gardens, and walking trails.

Walk on Country and Design Jam

To support the Designing with Country project, a Walk on Country was held in both the lower and upper Parramatta River catchment. Representatives from our member councils and other agencies and the community visited various sites along the Parramatta River and Duck River foreshore, Lake Parramatta and Blacktown Creek.

Yerrabingin facilitated two ‘Design Jams’ that enabled participants to share their ideas on new ways to experience the catchment’s waterways. The ideas from both workshops will contribute to the development of the design framework. Many thanks to everyone who came along to support these worthwhile events.

Watch a video about the Designing with Country project.


First Nations Peoples of the Parramatta River and surrounding region

This document was written by the Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) to provide background research on the First Nations historical and continuing cultural significance of the Parramatta River catchment for the Designing with Country project. It is also intended as a standalone educational resource for local councils, libraries, schools, and the wider community.

Read the First Nations Peoples Of The Parramatta River And Surrounding Region.




Parramatta River Masterplan

The Designing with Country project supports the objectives of the PRCG’s Masterplan for the Parramatta River, Duba, Budu, Barra – Ten Steps to a Living River, which was launched in 2018 and outlines the steps needed to achieve a healthy, liveable, and sustainable river catchment.
The holistic approach of the Masterplan addresses:
• Duba (Land) – developments, water systems, regeneration of biodiversity and stabilisation of
• Budu (also Badu) (Water) – feeding creeks and catchments, surface water, flow speed, and the
river body itself; and
• Barra (Sky) – the weather, calendar systems, climate, and day and night.
The Masterplan recognises the Traditional Custodians of the Parramatta River, its tributaries and surrounding lands, and their significant and enduring cultural ties to Country. It also aims to increase First Nations leadership in waterway governance by strengthening relationships between local and state government agencies, First Nations groups and community members, to facilitate ongoing management and business opportunities.

First Nations Peoples of the Parramatta River

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First Nations Peoples of the Parramatta River and surrounding region

The Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) has published First Nations Peoples of the Parramatta River and surrounding region. The purpose of the document is to provide background research on the First Nations historical and continuing cultural significance of the Parramatta River catchment for the Designing with Country project. It is also intended as a standalone educational resource for local councils, libraries, schools, and the wider community.

The document provides detailed information on:

            • First Nations peoples beliefs and cultural practices
            • Archival history of the Parramatta River catchment
            • Council information and resources
            • First Nations organisations and support services.

The document aims to foster a greater understanding of First Nations peoples’ deep spiritual and cultural connection to Country, and the lasting impact of colonisation. It also encourages all Australians, regardless of cultural background, to respect and care for this ancient land.

Read the First Nations Peoples Of The Parramatta River And Surrounding Region.



Caring for Country

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For First Nations peoples, caring for Country is fundamental to their identity. Country embodies not only physical elements such as the land, sky, water, and all living things contained within it, but also intangible aspects such as story, language, and lore. First Nations peoples see the land as their mother and natural entities such as plants and animals as their kin. Their deep personal, spiritual, and cultural connection to Country means they have a responsibility to care for and protect it.

For many First Nations communities, caring for Country is also strongly linked to economic, social, and cultural prosperity. This not only enables the intergenerational transfer of traditional knowledge, but also provides education and work opportunities, and assists with improved physical and mental health outcomes.

Traditional land management practices such as cultural burns have been used by First Nations peoples for tens of thousands of years; working with the seasons and other climatic changes to sustainably manage the environment in a way that keeps it thriving and healthy.
European colonisation irrevocably changed the landscape to what it is today, through the introduction of foreign plant and animal species, extensive land clearing and filling, use of Western agricultural practices, and urban development. This resulted in damage to ecosystems, loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, and waterway degradation.

Key findings from the State of the Environment Report 2021 released in July 2022 indicate that the ‘overall state of Australia’s environment is poor and continues to deteriorate’.10 This deterioration is due to several increasing pressures and changing environmental conditions, including climate change, habitat loss, invasive species, pollution and resource extraction. While these pressures are not new, their impacts are becoming more intense, amplifying the threats faced by the Australian environment.

First Nations peoples have known for millennia that ‘if you take care of Country, it will take care of you’.

While the land will never be the same as it was prior to colonisation, by working together to combine traditional knowledge and practices with improved modern land management techniques, we can start to heal Country and preserve its future.

How you can care for Country

Many people are deeply interested in learning more about the concept of Country. Caring for Country is central to First Nations peoples spiritual identity and the knowledge and skills are passed down by traditional Elders over many years.

While it is not the same as the deep connections and responsibilities for Country that are held by First Nations peoples, most of us can identify when we feel a strong connection to a particular place. It may be our home or neighbourhood, favourite park, bushland area, or beach.

For many people, there is also a strong desire to care for that place by keeping it clean and protecting the local wildlife. To work and live holistically and respectfully is vital to Caring for Country.

Regardless of your cultural background, we all have a responsibility to care for Country. By taking care of the land and waterways where you live, not only are you protecting the natural environment, you are also acknowledging and respecting a culture that has survived for thousands of generations and continues to be inextricably linked with the land we share.

While the idea of caring for River Country may seem like an overwhelming task, there are many simple things we can all do in our daily lives to improve the health of our land and waterways and recognise their enduring significance to First Nations peoples.


Cultural awareness and support
Learn about First Nations history: You can understand more about First Nations perspective on news by reading and subscribing to Aboriginal-owned publications such as the Koori Mail or watching NITV. First Nations music and theatrical performances, art galleries, films, books, and other cultural events and activities also provide opportunities to learn more about and experience Indigenous history and culture.

Your Council library is also a good place to learn about the First Nations peoples history and culture in your local area, including who is the traditional owner of the land and what language was or still is spoken. Also see

Take action to support respectful relationships: Caring for Country is based on respect. One way of showing that respect is by acknowledging the traditional land on which meetings or events are held. Encourage your work or community organisations to hold an Acknowledgement of Country (or Welcome to Country when appropriate) at the start of meetings and other events.

First Nations peoples invite you to take part in events such as NAIDOC Week and Reconciliation Week. Participation can include learning a language, attending a talk or performance, and supporting organisations, businesses and groups run by First Nations peoples in your community.

Challenge myths and untruths about First Nations peoples and call out racism when you see or hear it.


Around your home
What we do in our homes to live sustainably helps our community and our River Country. Your local council runs sustainable living programs for homes and gardens and provides details on ways to reduce your impact on the environment.

Learn more about our Love your Waterways campaign that encourages people to take up five simple actions which reduce pollution in our local waterways and make them clean and safe for everyone to enjoy.


In the garden
Planting native plants in your garden not only provides vital habitat, food, and vegetation links for birds and other wildlife, they also increase soil stabilisation, reduce water runoff, and help regulate local climate conditions.


Respectful interaction with wildlife in our urban neighbourhoods and parks
It is useful to know that even the smell of a dog can disturb wildlife. Ensure your dog is on a leash in areas with wildlife habitats. We can also nurture the environment by ‘leaving only footprints’ and disposing of litter in bins or taking it home.


Volunteering, conservation, and citizen science
Council and Aboriginal community programs run sessions to share First Nations knowledge and perspectives. Bushcare and Landcare groups are volunteer programs managed by councils that help with weed removal, native tree planting, and habitat restoration.

You could also volunteer with or support community groups and citizen science programs that rescue, care for, or monitor wildlife and environmental health in your local area such as Sydney Wildlife Rescue, TurtleSAT, Streamwatch, and the Aussie Bird Count.


First Nations organisations and support services

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The Parramatta River catchment and surrounding region is home to a wide range of organisations, programs, and events that aim to improve the health, social, and economic wellbeing of First Nations communities and also help the broader community learn about First Nations peoples and their culture.


AES (Aboriginal Employment Strategy)
Address: Head Office, 1/13-17 Cope Street, Redfern NSW 2016 (other offices throughout NSW)
Phone: 1300 855 347

AES (Aboriginal Employment Strategy) is a national Aboriginal recruitment and group training company that empowers Aboriginal people through brokering employment opportunities and supporting our candidates to have successful careers through mentoring, coaching, training, and specialist support.


Aboriginal Legal Service
Address: 33 Argyle St, Level 8, Parramatta, NSW 2150, Australia (other offices throughout NSW)
Phone: (02) 8836 3400 (Criminal Law Practice; (02) 8836 3444 (Care & Protection and Family Law Practice)

Aboriginal Legal Service is the primary legal service for Aboriginal peoples in NSW and the ACT. They deliver free, culturally appropriate legal advice, representation, information, and referrals. They also advocate to combat injustice and reform discriminatory laws.


Baabayn Aboriginal Corporation
Address: 252 Luxford Road, Emerton NSW 2770
Phone: (02) 8608 6054

Baabayn aims to connect with individuals and families in a welcoming environment, providing them with support and links to services that help them heal from the past and nurture their sense of confidence and pride in the future.


Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative
Address: 55/59 Flood Street, Leichhardt NSW 2040
Phone: (02) 9560 2541

Established in Chippendale in 1987 by 10 Aboriginal artists, the group helps to promote and advocate for Aboriginal Artists in regional and metropolitan areas, whose language groups exist within NSW. They also provide promotional, educational, and copyright support for their members.


Butucarbin Aboriginal Corporation
Address: 28 Pringle Road, Hebersham NSW 2770
Phone: (02) 9832 7167

Butucarbin is a non-profit Aboriginal organisation that runs a range of group and individual community development and adult education programs and activities, to help improve the social, economic, emotional and cultural development of the Aboriginal community in Western Sydney.


Community Junction Inc
Address: Corner Debrincat Ave and Oleander Road, North St Marys NSW 2760
Phone: (02) 9673 3908

Community Junction Inc is a local not-for-profit organisation located in the Penrith Local Government Area, which provides a range of no or low-cost programs and services, including children’s, youth, Indigenous and community programs in response to local interests and needs.


Darug Custodian Aboriginal Corporation
Address: PO Box 81, Windsor NSW 2756
Phone: 0415 770 163

Darug Custodian Aboriginal Corporation is a not-for-profit organisation that has been active as in Western Sydney for more than 40 years. The group aims to educate the wider community about Aboriginal people and their culture, and assists with educational programs on culture, cultural sensitivity, language and cultural delivery across all education sectors.


Deerubbin Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC)
Address: 73A O’Connell Street, North Parramatta NSW 2151
Phone: (02) 4724 5600

Deerubbin LALC aims to develop its land holdings to create opportunities and benefits for the Aboriginal community, in turn strengthening the confidence and self-reliance of Aboriginal people and families.


Dharug Ngurra Aboriginal Corporation (DNAC)
Address: PO Box 441, Blacktown NSW 2148
Phone: (02) 9622 4081

The DNAC offers information to assist family origins and connections, and also aims to develop a cultural centre for Dharug research to preserve kinship ties for future generations.


Gilgai Aboriginal Centre for the Aged & Disabled
Address: 2 Bindaree Street, Hebersham NSW 2770
Phone: (02) 9832 3825

Gilgai is a long-standing community home care provider in Western Sydney, providing aged care and disability services to Aboriginal and non-Indigenous clients on Dharug land. Gilgai also offers training and support to home care providers that have Aboriginal clients within their organisations.


Greater Western Aboriginal Health Service (GWAHS)
Address: Various locations throughout Greater Western Sydney
Phone: 9836 7300 (Mt Druitt), 4729 7300 (Penrith), 4782 6276 (Katoomba)

GWAHS is a health service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Western Sydney, Nepean and Blue Mountains regions. Services include GPs, health checks, chronic disease programs, men’s health, drug and alcohol and mental health and child and family services.


Gundungurra Tribal Council Aboriginal Corporation
Address: 14 Oak Street, Katoomba NSW 2780
Phone: (02) 4782 9767

Gundungurra Tribal Council Aboriginal Corporation is a non-profit organisation that was founded to strengthen, preserve and protect the culture and heritage of the Gundungurra people. They offer cultural tours, events and other experiences in the Blue Mountains region.


Address: 1 Mimika Avenue, Whalan NSW 2770
Phone: (02) 9853 3333

Kimberwalli is a unique initiative to support young Aboriginal people in Western Sydney to transition from school to further education, training or employment.


Koori Mail
Address: PO Box 117, Lismore NSW 2480
Phone: (02) 6622 2666

Established in May 1991, the Koori Mail is a fortnightly national newspaper reporting on the issues that matter to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. All profits go to Indigenous Australians, in the form of dividends for their owner organisations, scholarships for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students, and sponsorship of Indigenous community events.


Kurranulla Aboriginal Corporation
Address: 15 Jannali Avenue Jannali, NSW 2226
Phone: (02) 9528 0287

Kurranulla provides high-quality culturally appropriate services to achieve meaningful and long-lasting outcomes for the local Aboriginal community living within South East Sydney. They offer a range of programs, activities, and events for schools, businesses and the community to strength their understanding of Aboriginal Culture.


Marist 180
Address: 36 First Avenue, Blacktown NSW 2148
Phone: (02) 9672 9200

Marist 180 provides a range of programs and services to help young people create positive change in their lives.


Marrin Weejali Aboriginal Corporation
Address: 79-81 Jersey Road Blackett NSW 2770
Phone: (02) 9628 3031

Marrin Weejali provides culturally safe alcohol, other drug and non-acute mental health counselling, referral and advocacy services to members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community of Western Sydney, and also to other people in need of assistance.


Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (MLALC)
Address: Level 2, 150 Elizabeth Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: (02) 8394 9666

The MLALC is primarily responsible for the conservation and land management of Aboriginal sites and relics within its boundaries, makes claims to Crown lands and acquires and manages land on behalf of its members, and provides suitable and affordable housing for Aboriginal people in the area.


Murama Healing Space
Address: Newington Armory Wharf, Riverwalk, Jamieson Street, Sydney Olympic Park NSW 2127

Murama Healing Space at Sydney Olympic Park provides a hub for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples to come together to foster learning, healing and reconciliation. The community-led initiative runs art projects and exhibitions, workshops and other programs to help all members of the community understand, respect and celebrate Aboriginal knowledge and history.


Muru Mittigar Aboriginal Corporation
Address: (Head Office) 111 Henry Street, Penrith NSW 2750
Phone: (02) 4730 0400

Muru Mittigar seeks to create a better understanding of Aboriginal culture in the wider community by creating new jobs, developing workplace skills training, and increasing sustained employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians. Visit their website for more information on the Cultural Education Centre in Rouse Hill, Community Finance Hub in Penrith, and Native Nursery located in Llandilo.


Ngroo Education Aboriginal Corporation
Address: C/- Tregear Public School, Wilkes Crescent Tregear NSW 2770
Phone: (02) 9835 6056

Ngroo Education Aboriginal Corporation works to improve opportunities for Aboriginal children to achieve their potential by increasing their level of participation in mainstream early childhood education and care, and other relevant services and settings.


NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG) Inc.

The NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG) Inc. is a not-for-profit Aboriginal organisation that provides advice on all matters relevant to education and training which represents the Aboriginal community viewpoint, and offers opportunities for professional development.


NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC)
Address: Level 6, 33 Argyle Street, Parramatta NSW 2150
Phone: (02) 9689 4444

The NSWALC is committed to ensuring a better future for Aboriginal people by working for the return of culturally significant and economically viable land, pursuing cultural, social and economic independence for its people and being politically proactive and voicing the position of Aboriginal people on issues that affect them.


Sydney Regional Aboriginal Corporation (SRAC)
Address: 51-57 Henry Street, Penrith NSW 2750
Phone: (02) 4721 1536

SRAC aims to improve the health, social, emotional and economic wellbeing of Aboriginal people through a range of consulting and outreach services and children’s, aged and disability programs.


The Shed – Mt Druitt
Address: Corner Emert Parade and Weber Crescent, Emerton NSW 2770
Phone: (02) 9628 6317

The Shed was established in 2004 as a partnership between Western Sydney University, MHIRC and the Holy Family Church at Mount Druitt. The group provides support for men with mental health issues and offers assistance to obtain public housing, legal services and financial counselling.


Western Sydney Aboriginal Men’s Group
Phone: 0499 366 262

The group provides a safe and supportive environment where men can meet, have a sense of belonging and share life experiences.


Western Sydney Aboriginal Regional Alliance (WSARA)

WSARA aims to consult with, listen to, and advocate for local Aboriginal people to increase their wellbeing, healing and culture, by accessing culturally appropriate services and programs.


Western Sydney Local Health District

Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) provides a diverse range of public healthcare to more than 946,000 residents in Sydney’s West as well as services to those outside our catchment from specialty state-wide centres of expertise. Visit the website to contact each of their hospitals: Auburn, Blacktown, Cumberland, Mt Druitt and Westmead, community health centres, District Office and other key services.


WentWest Primary Health Network (Aboriginal Health Team)
Address: 1A/160 Hawkesbury Road, Westmead NSW 2145
Phone: (02) 8811 7100

As part of the Primary Health Network, WentWest works in consultation and partnership with local GPs, allied health professionals, and community bodies in Western Sydney as well as the broader health sector, to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of medical services for patients in the region.


Yarpa NSW Indigenous Business and Employment Hub
Address: Level 7, 203-209 Northumberland Street, Liverpool, NSW 2170
Phone: 1300 017 177

The Yarpa Hub helps to build relationships and connect First Nations peoples to business and employment opportunities across NSW. They also work to empower market leaders in breaking down barriers to engage First Nations communities, people and businesses.


Yilabara Solutions
Address: (Head Office) Level 5, 33 Argyle Street Parramatta NSW 2150 (other offices throughout NSW)
Phone: (02) 7255 8571

Yilabara Solutions is a fully owned and controlled Aboriginal organisation that delivers a range of employment and training services and supports businesses to meet their corporate social responsibility objectives.


Council information and resources

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Blacktown City Council

Dharug (Darug/Daruk/Dharuk) Land

Aboriginal communities
Council provides a comprehensive range of information, services and support for First Nations peoples in their area.


Aboriginal Advisory Committee
Blacktown City Council’s Aboriginal Advisory Committee consists of people who live or work in Blacktown City. The committee advises Council on the needs of its First Nations communities.


Blacktown City Reconciliation Action Plan
Blacktown City Council’s Reconciliation Action Plan (PDF, 5MB) aims to build positive relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.


Digital Library – Indigenous Studies
Discover the culture, traditions, language, and stories from the past and present of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the City of Blacktown. Access research resources (including Indigenous family history information), online exhibitions and digitised collections.

More information
Contact: Mark Gibson, Community Development Officer – Aboriginal
Phone: 9839 6167 / 0410 712 594


Burwood Council

Wangal Land

History and Heritage
Find out about the first inhabitants of the local area, the Wangal people.


City of Canada Bay

Wangal Land

The Wangal People
Learn more about the Wangal people who occupied the area now known as the City of Canada Bay for at least 10,000 years.


City of Canterbury Bankstown

Dharug and Eora Land

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander information, events and resources
Find out about First Nations history and places of significance and significant cultural events recognised in the Canterbury Bankstown local area.


More information
Contact: Barbara Grant, Indigenous Community Development Officer
Phone: 9707 9863


City of Parramatta

Burramattagal Land

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community information
Parramatta has always been an important meeting place for First Nations people. Learn more about the history and culture of the Burramattagal people as well as services and support for First Nations peoples living in the area today.


Parramatta’s Aboriginal Heritage
City of Parramatta has a database of known First Nations archaeological and historic and cultural sites and information about the location of land that could contain First Nations sites. The protection of First Nations heritage is maintained by the relevant planning controls applicable to the Parramatta Local Government Area.


Keeping Place
The Keeping Place was established by the City of Parramatta in consultation with Dharug Traditional Custodians to provide a safe space for First Nations cultural material and knowledge to be conserved and celebrated on Country.
Location: PHIVE, 5 Parramatta Square, Parramatta.
Contact: Karen Maber, Keeping Place Officer.


First Nations Advisory Committee
The First Nations Advisory Committee advises Council on strategic matters and on projects of Council and other stakeholders. The Committee also raises issues important to local First Nations communities including the local Traditional Owners.


More information
Contact: Steven Ross
Phone: 9806 5465


City of Ryde

Wallumedegal (Wallumattagal) Land

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
City of Ryde offers information on the history and culture of First Nations peoples and support services for communities in their area.


Aboriginal History
Learn more about the Wallumedegal people who occupied the Ryde area and surrounding suburbs.


Cumberland City Council

Dharug (Darug/Daruk/Dharuk) Land

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander information
Council provides a comprehensive range of information, services and support for First Nations peoples in their area.


Aboriginal heritage in Cumberland
Find out about the range of significant First Nations sites throughout the Cumberland region.


Hunter’s Hill Council

Wallumedegal (Wallumattagal) Land

Indigenous Heritage
Learn more about the original habitants of the local area, the Wallumedegal people.


Inner West Council

Gadigal and Wangal Land

Aboriginal Community
Council provides a range of information, services and support for First Nations peoples in their area.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee
This group assists Council with matters related to services, programs and activities for First Nations peoples living in the local area.


More information
Contact: Deborah Lennis, Cultural Advisor
Phone: 9392 5755


Strathfield Council

Wangal Land

Aboriginal history
Learn more about the original habitants of the local area, the Wangal people.