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.

The NSW Government is committed to protecting Country, community and sacred sites in the planning and design of places. To support this, in July 2023, The Hon Minister for Planning and Public Spaces launched the Connecting with Country Framework (PDF, 6.8 MB).

This is a framework for developing 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 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 Country is cared for appropriately and sensitive sites are protected by Aboriginal people having access to their homelands to continue their cultural practices.

To support the central commitment, new practices and ways of working, actions and outcomes for built environment projects are proposed.

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 throughout this period, GANSW consulted with the government agencies delivering the pilot projects, the project teams 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 that follow reflect an emphasis on this part of NSW. We acknowledge that more work is required to determine if these principles and the framework are appropriate for the other Countries of NSW. 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.

Case studies

Case studies have been prepared that demonstrate projects that have been designed to successfully connect with Country.


To hear more about the final Framework, we encourage you to view this introductory webinar.

A future webinar will be held in the coming months to provide opportunities for questions and comments.


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