The Authority has a number of very specific functions under the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act that include:
- Responding to requests for sacred site protection from Aboriginal custodians, including the recording and documenting of sacred site information, registration of sacred sites, the provision of related protection measures and the keeping of confidential sacred site records.
- Maintaining the Register of Sacred Sites, the Authority Certificate register and other records; and carry out the necessary research for its functions.
- Responding to applications for Authority Certificates, carrying out research and surveys, and consulting with Aboriginal custodians to determine the constraints, if any, imposed on proposed works on or use of land by the protection of sacred sites.; Where necessary, facilitating discussions between proponents and custodians; and issue or refuse to issue an Authority Certificate accordingly.
- Making available for public inspection the Register of Sacred Sites and the Authority Certificate register and providing sacred site records information to assist with the avoidance of sacred sites.
- Enforcing the Sacred Sites Act, including prosecuting for offences against the Sacred Sites Act. This is an exclusive power provided under Section 39 of the Sacred Sites Act.
- Approving entry on to a sacred site, and approve access across other land to a sacred site, under Section 47 of the Sacred Sites Act.
- Conducting a review as requested by the Minister, reviewing representations towards resolving concerns by an applicant and reporting to the Minister.
The Minister also has a number of very specific functions under the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act that include:
- Deciding whether to accept an application for a review of a decision, a failure or action of the Authority in connection with the issuing or processing of a request for an Authority Certificate, and request the Authority to review the matter.
- Deciding to either uphold the outcomes of the Authority’s review, or to issue a Minister’s Certificate, and table the reasons for such in the Assembly.
- Tabling the Authority’s Annual Report in the Legislative Assembly.
- Seeking nominations from the Land Councils for membership of the Authority Board when positions become vacant.
- Approving an extension of 60 days in which to commence consultations or conduct a conference with custodians.
- Deciding on referred matters regarding charges for an Authority Certificate.
- Requesting security from an Authority Certificate applicant.
- Granting permission for a new Authority Certificate application after a previous refusal to issue.