A NSW Government website

Connecting with Country

Connecting with Country is a framework to care for Country when designing built environments. It embraces the Aboriginal philosophy that 'If we care for Country, Country will care for us'.

Constant change demands that we keep reimagining our way of living. And it takes leadership to think about renewal and change in this way. We must be willing to challenge the usual way of doing things. One challenge is embracing the Aboriginal concept of Country.

The NSW Government is committed to protecting Country, community and sacred sites in the planning and design of places.

Our Connecting with Country Framework (PDF, 6.3 MB) supports us to develop connections with Country that can inform the planning, design and delivery of built-environment projects in NSW.

The ambition of Connecting with Country is that everyone who is involved in delivering built-environment projects will adopt the following commitment:

All NSW built environment projects will be developed with a Country-centred approach guided by Aboriginal people, who know that if we care for Country, Country will care for us.


The Talking Country webinar series provides practical examples of how projects have connected with Country.
Children play on sandstone shapes in shallow water play area at Gosford Waterfront Park. Credit: Guy Wilkinson

Connecting with Country short film

Watch this short film to understand more about the Framework. Credit: zakpage

The commitment

The framework asks project teams, their clients and leaders to make a clear commitment to act in ways that can deliver positive outcomes for Country and community.

The health and wellbeing of Country will help to:

  • reduce the impacts of natural events such as fire, drought and flooding through sustainable ways of using land and water
  • value and respect Aboriginal cultural knowledge, with Aboriginal people co-leading design and development of all NSW infrastructure projects
  • ensure Aboriginal people with responsibilities to care for Country, protect sensitive sites and continue living cultural practices are given access to their homelands.

To support the central commitment, the framework proposes new practices and ways of working.

How we tested the framework

The framework was tested and piloted on several NSW built environment projects, from precinct-scale master planning and infrastructure projects to smaller individual projects. At various stages, the Government Architect NSW consulted with the government agencies and teams delivering the pilot projects and the Aboriginal communities working with them. Their feedback has informed the final framework.

Connecting with Country is informed by the experiences and knowledges of people who work on, and are from, Countries in and around the Sydney basin. As such, the principles and framework reflect an emphasis on this part of NSW. We acknowledge that more work is needed to determine if these principles and the framework are appropriate for the other Countries of NSW.

The government does not speak for Country in the sense that the word is understood by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

We express our deep gratitude to all the individuals and communities who have contributed to the development of this framework.

Webinar: Introducing the Connecting to Country Framework

View this webinar to understand more about the final framework.


The framework is an evolving document. We encourage government, industry and Aboriginal communities to continue giving us feedback. Please send comments and your contact details to [email protected]. We will record and incorporate this feedback into a review of the framework by the end of 2027.