Lee Wharf, Newcastle
Parramatta Road, Camperdown
Dixon Street, Haymarket
AMAC Group brings an integrated and hands-on approach to all projects. With over 30 years of experience in all facets of archaeology and heritage, your project will achieve compliance with every relevant statute and all applicable DA conditions in the minimum possible time.
Our integrated approach ensures that all the compliance issue 'clocks' are running simultaneously and that field works under the relevant Acts are conducted by the same team at the same time.
In Australia, archaeology is often understood as falling into two main categories: 'Historical Archaeology' (also, Non-Aboriginal or European) or 'Aboriginal Archaeology' (also, Indigenous Archaeology or Pre-Historic). AMAC Group's integrated approach means that our team is experienced in the simultaneous management of both Historical and Aboriginal archaeology. Both fields of study and their relevant Acts are explained in detail below along with AMAC Group's services. This page explains how both fields of study are administered in New South Wales and the range of services offered by AMAC Group.
AMAC Group believe that an appreciation of Australian archaeology is important to civic life and that modern re-developments pose a unique opportunity to communicate the history and significance of a place to the people that inhabit it. Excellence in this field is recognised by Marrickville Council with the Marrickville Medal. The medal was awarded to AMAC Group, Otto Cserhalmi and Partners, City Freeholds and Bates Smart in 2014 for the 'Gantry' re-development at Parramatta Road, Camperdown.
Aboriginal Archaeology Services
Aboriginal Community Consultation
Consultation with the Aboriginal community is an essential part of any cultural heritage assessment and is required if the project later seeks an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit. The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Consultation Requirements for Proponents, Part 6: National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (DECCW, 2010) is a statutory document which outlines the processes involved in consulting with Aboriginal people who hold knowledge about the significance of Aboriginal cultural heritage in the area. As part of the guidelines, statutory timeframes are given regarding the review period and distribution of documentation to Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs). Aboriginal consultation is required when conducting an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment (NPW Act 1975) and/or Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management Plan (EPA Act 1979) and when undertaking fieldworks such as test excavation and community collection. It is important that the timeframes stipulated within the consultation guidelines are factored into project schedules as early as possible. Contact us for our project schedule guide.
Due Diligence Aboriginal Archaeological Assessment
A preliminary desktop study for Aboriginal archaeology conducted in accordance with the Due Diligence Code of Practice for the Protection of Aboriginal Objects in New South Wales (DECCW, 2010). The assessment may be a DA requirement as it identifies the potential for Aboriginal objects to be present along with assessing the impact and/or harm of the planned activity on said objects. The outcome of the desktop assessment will determine whether further investigation is warranted in the form of an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment and accompanying Aboriginal Archaeological Technical Report as well as full consultation with Registered Aboriginal Parties as per the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Consultation Requirements for Proponents; Part 6 National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (DECCW 2010) and/or a programme of test excavation. The completion of a Due Diligence Aboriginal process also provides legal defence against prosecution for harming Aboriginal objects, if after due diligence, it was determined that Aboriginal objects were unlikely.
Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment Report
This report is an extension of the Due Diligence Aboriginal Archaeological Assessment process and may be required as part of a DA. The ACHAR investigates and assesses Aboriginal cultural heritage and values and requires full consultation with Aboriginal communities in accordance with the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Consultation Requirements for Proponents (DECCW 2010). This assessment is triggered if there is a potential for Aboriginal objects and/or places to be present and/or if test excavation is recommended under the Code of Practice for the Investigation of Aboriginal Objects in NSW (DECCW 2010). The recommendations of this report provide actions to be taken before, during and after an activity in order to manage and protect Aboriginal objects and places.
This report along with the accompanying Aboriginal Archaeological Technical Report and Consultation Log are the primary documents forming an AHIP application.
Test excavation is recommended when there is a potential for suspected or known Aboriginal objects present. In New South Wales test excavation can be conducted under the Code of Practice for the Investigation of Aboriginal Objects in NSW (DECCW 2010). The Code of Practice consists of a set of parameters and methods acknowledged by DPIE to have a minimal impact on any potential suspected or known Aboriginal object and/or place in order to ascertain the nature and extend of any potential site prior to the development activity taking place. If the Code of Practice cannot be adhered to then an AHIP is required in order for test excavation to take place. Prior to the commencement of test excavation, a methodology has to be compiled outlining the protocols and procedures of the testing programme.
The results of the test excavation are to analysed and synthesised into the Aboriginal Archaeological Technical Report to accompany the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment Report to support either an AHIP and/or DA condition.
The outcome of test excavation may result in no further action, salvage excavation of which involves additional excavation in the form of expansion of test pits and additional open area investigations, and/or a second AHIP application if Aboriginal objects are identified and will be impacted by the proposed development activity.
Test Excavation can be a condition of a Development Application.
Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit
An Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit (AHIP) is the legal instrument the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) issues under Part 6 of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act) Section 90. This permit is required when harm to an Aboriginal object and/or declared Aboriginal Place cannot be avoided because of the proposed activity.
An AHIP application requires the following supporting document; Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment and accompanying Aboriginal Archaeological Technical Report and Consultation Log as well as stamped DA plans. This application is then submitted to DPIE for determination. Only once an AHIP is granted can the planned activity take place.
For proposed developments that come under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EPA Act 1979), such as State Significant Developments. All such conditions and procedures which were the domain of an AHIP are replaced by an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management Plan (ACHMP). As such any investigative excavation programs no long come under the NPW Act and/or AHIP and this ACHMP becomes the endorsed document for the management of Aboriginal cultural material.
Salvage excavation is recommended when test excavation results require additional investigation to take place in order to ascertain the nature and extend of any artefacts and/or cultural deposit located during the test excavation program. There are often triggers included in the test excavation methodology which, if met, would indicate the need to conduct salvage excavation. These triggers may include; uncovering a high density of artefacts, rare or unique objects, features and/or significant deposits.
Salvage excavation can be conducted under the NPW Code of Practice however, if the Code of Practice cannot be adhered to then an AHIP is required in order for salvage excavation to take place.
The results of the salvage excavation are analysed and synthesised along with the test excavation results, into the Aboriginal Archaeological Technical Report which accompanies the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment Report and AHIP application.
An AHIP is required for the proposed development to proceed.
If an AHIP was first sought for Salvage Excavation, then a second AHIP is needed for the impact of the proposed development. A site can only have one AHIP registered to it at a time and as such any AHIP acquired as part of the Salvage Excavation program will usually be limited to the likely duration of the salvage excavation. The 'Second AHIP' situation is the result of the different type and level of impact being proposed and assessed under each AHIP.
Aboriginal Community Collection
A community collection can be recommended in consultation with the Registered Aboriginal Parties as either an outcome of test excavation or site survey where known surface Aboriginal objects and sites have been located. The collection of these objects will require an AHIP under the NPW Act 1974 for the movement and impact of these objects. This will need to take place prior the proposed development works taking place.
New South Wales has many archaeological sites and there is constant development pressure on those limited resources of evidence for our nation’s history. AMAC Group provides statutory advice, historical research, site analysis, significance assessments and excavation services to ensure that the historical archaeology of New South Wales is appropriately managed under the relevant Acts.
Professional standards for Historical Archaeologists in New South Wales are set out by the Code of Practice and Excavation Director Criteria issued by the NSW Heritage Council. For an in-depth view of AMAC Group’s professional standards and range of experience, please see our About Us page.
NSW Legislation and Decision-Making
In New South Wales, historical archaeology is protected by the Heritage Act 1977 and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. Where projects rely on the State Significant Development or State Significant Infrastructure planning process, the EP&A Act 1989 alters the application of the NSW Heritage Act 1977 but does not nullify it.
The Heritage Act 1977 established the Heritage Council of New South Wales as an independent statutory body to advise the Minister and manage the care and protection of archaeology and heritage places and items. HCNSW are a decision-making body under the Heritage Act and delegates decision-making to Heritage NSW and, in certain cases, Place Management NSW, Sydney Living Museums, Sydney Water and City of Sydney Council.
NSW Heritage Act 1977 and Permits
In New South Wales, the Heritage Act 1977 requires that a person must not excavate any land knowing, or having reasonable cause to suspect, that a relic may be disturbed – unless that disturbance is carried out under a Section 140 Excavation Permit or an Exception. Or, when an Interim Heritage Order or State Heritage Register listing applies to a place, building, work, relic, moveable object, precinct or land – to alter that item, a person must seek a Section 60 Approval or a Fast Track s60 if the work is beyond the scope of a Section 57(2) Standard Exemption.
A relic means any deposit, artefact, object or material evidence that relates to the settlement of the area that comprises New South Wales, not being Aboriginal settlement, and is of State or local heritage significance.
How is Historical Archaeology
Administered in NSW?
Historical Archaeology Services
Archaeological Assessment or Heritage Management Document
A preliminary desktop study for historical archaeological sites that identifies: the relevant local, State or Federal legislation or other planning controls for a study site; historical evidence for who occupied the site and what activity has taken place there in the past and what archaeology might be present as a result and how significant that archaeology might be and whether it is a relic under the Heritage Act 1977. Archaeological Assessments meet guidelines published by the Heritage Council of NSW in 1996. The goal of an Archaeological Assessment is to make appropriate recommendations for how to manage future activity at the site such as redevelopment and as such often includes a review of proposed development plans in order to make a Statement of Archaeological Heritage Impact.
Historical Studies or Research
AMAC Group is staffed by confident and experienced researchers who are well versed in the historical resources available in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. As a result, AMAC Group can make valuable contributions to history projects of all kinds for individuals or organisations.
Section 139(4) Exception Notification
An Archaeological Assessment is submitted to the NSW Heritage Council (or its delegate) as supporting documentation, along with a statement explaining the expected level of impact to a site or relic. Depending on the proposed works, the Assessment could be accompanied by an Archaeological Work Method Statement or, in the case of Archaeological Test Excavation, a Research Design and Excavation Methodology. The Exception Notification can take two forms, either 1B or 1C, depending on the expected archaeology at the site and how much ground disturbance is proposed. The application is for an ‘Exception from the need for a Section 140 Excavation Permit’ and can be used variously in Test Excavation or Archaeological Monitoring. To apply for a s139(4), please contact us for guidance using the Heritage Management Sytem application portal or read the Excavation Permit Exception s139(4) guide by Heritage NSW.
Section 140 Application for an Excavation Permit
An Archaeological Assessment is combined with two additional chapters: a Research Design and an Archaeological Excavation Methodology when a development poses specific impacts to relics. These chapters form supporting documentation for a permit to excavate land that will or is likely to result in the disturbance of relics. The methodology nominates an Excavation Director that meets the NSW Heritage Council criteria and the Section 140 can be used for Test Excavation or Full Salvage Excavation. The document is submitted to the NSW Heritage Council (or its delegate). Under certain circumstances, a Section 140 permit can be varied - this is achieved through a Section 144 Variation. To apply for a s140, please contact us for guidance using the Heritage Management Sytem application portal or read the Excavation Permit s140 guide by Heritage NSW.
Section 57(2) Standard Exemptions
The NSW Government Gazette provides a schedule of works and conditions that are considered Standard Exemptions for State Heritage Register and Interim Heritage Order sites. Any work done under the standard exemptions must be carried out by suitably experienced professionals and must not alter the site's significant fabric. Contact us for an archaeological assessment to determine whether your work is likely to affect significant archaeological fabric. For further reading, Heritage NSW also provide a guide to standard exemptions.
Fast Track s60
Works that may pose a minor impact to significant fabric at a SHR site or Interim Heritage Order site may be eligible for a fast track approval. This excludes the potential for minor impact to State significant archaeological relics. A Fast Track s60 is still subject to approval from the NSW Heritage Council or its delegate. Contact us for advice about the best approval pathway for your project, or read the Heritage NSW guide .
Section 60 Approval
Archaeological excavation is only one of a wide range of works that an s60 Approval could allow at a State Heritage Register or Interim Heritage Order site. The s60 Approvals cover works that go beyond the scope of either the Standard Exemptions or a Fast Track S60 and are sometimes preceded by Integrated Development Applications (IDAs).
Excavation that may impact archaeological relics at a SHR site must be supported by an Archaeological Assessment and Research Design and nominate an Excavation Director that meets the NSW Heritage Council criteria. That documentation seeks approval to carry out Section 57(1) activities at the site. Under certain circumstances, a Section 60 can be updated by a Section 65a Variation. To apply for a s60, please contact us for guidance using the Heritage Management Sytem application portal or read the Works Application s60 guide by Heritage NSW.
Section 146 Notification of the Discovery of a Relic
Section 146 of the Heritage Act requires any person who believes they have discovered or located a relic (in any circumstances) to notify the Heritage Council. AMAC Group can provide archaeological advice, record the relic and prepare the documentation needed to notify the NSW Heritage Council.
Final Excavation Report
If archaeologists have conducted fieldwork, a Final Excavation Report must be published within 1 year, unless an extension is approved. Standard HCNSW reporting requires, but is not limited to: historical research; detailed excavation records with geo-referenced data; treatment, analysis and custody of artefacts; detailed responses to the Research Design; a re-assessment of the site’s heritage significance and recommendations for future management. The Final Excavation Report must be supplied to a local library and HCNSW.
Archaeological Management Plan
Formerly known as an Archaeological Zoning Plan, these studies are predictive and broad scale and are usually commissioned by Local or State governments to assist property owners, developers and archaeologists to identify high concentration areas of possible archaeological remains related to 'post-1788 European occupation.' AMPs assess that archaeology and make management recommendations, ideally at the earliest opportunity in the planning process, such as land zoning, and aim to ensure that sufficient resources are targeted at the most sensitive areas. A detailed guideline for AMPs can be found here.
Archaeological Monitoring typically involves a suitably qualified archaeologist working alongside a mechanical excavator with a driver who is experienced in detail work. Monitoring can either avoid archaeology, identify it early or ensure that a project can maximise the use of mechanical excavation. Depending on the site, monitoring can take place under a Section 139, Section 140, Section 57(2) or Section 60.
Archaeological Test Excavation is used to sample the archaeology at a site to better understand its nature, extent and significance – especially if there are State significant relics. The data gained from test excavation can improve long-term time and cost efficiencies for a project as it provides a selection of the most relevant archaeological data to inform and streamline future management of the archaeological resource well in advance of site redevelopment. All test excavations must be guided by a Research Design and Methodology and, depending on the site, they can take place under a Section 139, Section 140, Section 57(2) or Section 60.
Full Salvage Excavation
Where Archaeological Assessment, Monitoring or Test Excavation have not identified opportunities for conservation in situ, full salvage excavation may be possible. Salvage excavation is the last option available for an archaeological site if its destruction is unavoidable. Salvage offers an opportunity to investigate and record the archaeology at a site and ensure that, though it might be destroyed, the historical information that it held is understood and made publicly available. All salvage excavations must be guided by a Research Design and Methodology and, depending on the site, they can take place under a Section 140 or Section 60.
Archaeological fieldwork may require that the archaeologist collects historical artefacts from a site. Artefacts are the property and responsibility of the site owner and the site owner must provide for the long-term archival storage of artefacts, preferably on site. Standard HCNSW reporting requires, but is not limited to: cleaning, conserving, sorting, cataloguing, labelling, photography and scaled drawings of artefacts and nomination of long term repositories. Depending on the complexity or significance of the assemblage, this work is conducted by archaeologists or specialists. Artefact analysis is typically done after fieldwork and will likely fulfil conditions attached to Section 140 and Section 60 permits but may also be associated with Section 139(4) and Section 57(2) works.