The Authority provides the means by which Aboriginal sacred sites are protected through:
- Sacred site avoidance surveys and the issuing of Authority Certificates for any proposals of development;
- The provision of information to the public about existing sacred sites data through abstracts of Authority records and access to the Registers maintained by the Authority; and
- The registration of Aboriginal sacred sites.
Anyone proposing to use or work on land in the Northern Territory may apply to the Authority for an Authority Certificate to cover their proposed activities. Certificates are based on consultations with custodians and provide clear instructions on what can and cannot be done in and around sacred sites. An Authority Certificate provides a statutory indemnity against prosecution in relation to the works or uses covered by the Certificate, provided the applicant complies with any conditions imposed to protect sacred sites. Certificates are voluntary and provide an effective risk management tool for developers and act as site protection measures for custodians.
Members of the public may seek advice on registered sacred sites by requesting access to the Register of Sacred Sites. The Authority provides abstracts of information to advise the public where sacred sites are known to exist so that they are not inadvertently damaged, and provide advice where sacred sites are likely to be at risk if works were to be carried out without more detailed information being sought first. The Authority may inform them that they should not carry out works on these sacred sites without an Authority Certificate and that any development proposals take into account their existence.
Custodians of sacred sites may apply to have their sites registered under Part III Division 2 of the Sacred Sites Act. The Authority will then conduct research into the site to determine the location, extent and significance of the site. In accordance with the Sacred Sites Act, the Authority ensures that sufficiently detailed documentation about specific sacred sites is recorded to warrant their inclusion by the Board and landowners are given an opportunity to comment.