The Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA) is an independent statutory organisation established under the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act, and 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 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..."
The AAPA achieves this accommodation between sacred site protection and land/sea use through the issuing of Authority Certificates, which provide legal indemnities for works carried out in accordance with Certificate conditions.
The AAPA is also responsible for taking action against individuals or organisations who damage sacred sites or are otherwise in breach of the laws protecting sacred sites in the NT.
The Authority has its head office in Darwin and also maintains a regional office in Alice Springs. Its operations are overseen by a 12-member board consisting mainly of senior male and female Aboriginal custodians from across the NT.
The administrative and registry functions are centralised in the Darwin office. The regional office in Alice Springs deals with site issues in the southern half of the NT up to and including Tennant Creek.