About the Department

The Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage is responsible for planning Western Australia's communities and managing our land and heritage assets. The department is an amalgamation of the former departments of Planning, Lands, the State Heritage Office and the land and heritage functions of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, and was formed as a result of the changes to the public sector announced by the State Government in April 2017. 

We provide a range of services to Government and the wider community, including:

Guide and support the Aboriginal Affairs Coordinating Committee (AACC)
The AACC is the main coordinating body for Aboriginal affairs, programs, services and policies. The AACC and its member agencies form a key support role to the Aboriginal Affairs Cabinet Sub-Committee (AACSC) through the provision of high-level strategic policy development and advice. 

Manage the Aboriginal Lands Trust (ALT)
The ALT provides advice to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs on ALT land issues. The ALT is a significant landholder with responsibility for approximately 24 million hectares or 10% of the State's land mass. This land comprises different tenures including, reserves, leases and freehold properties. Its primary function is to acquire and hold land and to use and manage that land for the benefit of Aboriginal people in accordance with their wishes.

Protect Aboriginal heritage
Under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972, the Department works with Aboriginal people to protect and manage places of significance. The Department also provides advice to the public and private sectors and the community about Aboriginal heritage management and maintains a Register of Aboriginal Sites.

Manage the Section 18 process
As part of the State's project approvals system, the Department works with developers to ensure that Aboriginal heritage and engagement with Aboriginal people is built into development planning processes wherever required. This includes when impact to a site cannot be avoided, and a Section 18 consent is required.

Provide access to heritage information
Access to information that the Department holds in relation to registered Aboriginal Sites and other heritage places is made available via the Aboriginal Heritage Inquiry System (AHIS) which is an internet based search tool.

Manage land reform and drives divestment
The Department leads the development of strategic policy initiatives that support effective management of the Aboriginal Lands Trust estate and contributes to improved utilisation of land to achieve social and economic outcomes for Aboriginal people. This includes facilitating the transfer of Aboriginal Lands Trust land to Aboriginal people.

Encourage reconciliation
PALS, a Department initiative, encourages young Western Australian school students to develop projects that promote reconciliation in their local community. In 2015, 367 schools from across the State are coordinating 422 PALS projects. The Department also coordinates the Reconciliation Week banner program that allows organisations to publicly display their commitment to reconciliation.

Preserve our unique Aboriginal history
The Aboriginal History Research Unit (AHRU) manages access to Western Australian State archives and some privately owned records that are under the jurisdiction of the Department. Access to these records helps AHRU to undertake detailed Aboriginal family history research and provides valuable genealogical, historical information and advice in response to applications received from Aboriginal people, State Government departments and the wider non-Aboriginal community. 

Provide Entry Permits for access to Aboriginal Land
An entry permit is required to enter a number of the reserves administered by the Aboriginal Lands Trust. The permit system is designed to help protect the privacy of Aboriginal communities, preserve Aboriginal heritage and culture, safeguard the natural environment and to promote visitor safety. 

Support the Western Australian Aboriginal Advisory Committee (WAAAC)
The Department provides administrative support to the WAAAC, established for the purposes of advising the Minister on matters relating to the interests and well-being of persons of Aboriginal descent.