The Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority supports development while safeguarding Aboriginal sacred sites.

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Under the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act, the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority is responsible for overseeing the protection of Aboriginal sacred sites on land and sea across the whole of Australia’s Northern Territory.  The Act also gives the Authority the power to prosecute people and organisations that damage sacred sites.

The main ways that the Authority protects Aboriginal sacred sites are through:


Issuing of Authority Certificates, which set out the conditions for carrying out proposed works in the vicinity of sacred sites.

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The provision of information to the public about existing sacred sites records

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Sacred sites

Aboriginal sacred sites are recognised and protected as an integral part of Northern Territory and Australian cultural heritage under both the Aboriginal Land Rights Act and the Sacred Sites Act.

Both Acts define a sacred site as : ‘a site that is sacred to Aboriginals or is otherwise of significance according to Aboriginal tradition’.


45 years

The AAPA has been protecting sacred sites since 1979


1,349,129 km²

The AAPA covers all of the NT and its waters


33 full-time staff

AAPA has an office in Darwin and in Alice Springs