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The Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (‘the Authority’) is an independent statutory authority established under the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act. The Authority is responsible for overseeing the protection of Aboriginal sacred sites on land and sea across the whole of Australia’s Northern Territory. 

The broad purpose of the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act is to:

‘...effect a practical balance between the recognised need to preserve and enhance Aboriginal cultural tradition in relation to certain land in the Territory and the aspirations of the Aboriginal and all other peoples of the Territory for their economic, cultural and social advancement...’

To ensure that the Authority remains at arms-length from the Government, the operations of the Authority are overseen by a 12-member board. The Board consists mainly of senior male and female Aboriginal custodians from across the Northern Territory. The staff of the Authority is appointed under section 17 of the Sacred Sites Act and the Chief Executive Officer is appointed by the Administrator of the Northern Territory.

The Chief Executive Officer is responsible under the Financial Management Act for managing the day to day operations of the Authority and carries delegated responsibilities from the Board.

The Authority Board comprises five male and five female Aboriginal custodians nominated by Northern Territory Aboriginal Land Councils, together with two Government appointees. Members are appointed by the Administrator of the Northern Territory for three-year terms and may be reappointed. The Board meets at least four times each year, in Darwin, Alice Springs and occasionally in regional parts of the Northern Territory.

The Chair and Deputy Chair of the Board are nominated by the Board and appointed by the Administrator. They must be of opposite gender.