Under the Sacred Sites Act it is an offence to:
- Enter a sacred site unauthorised;
- Work on sacred sites;
- Desecrate sacred sites;
- Contravene site avoidance conditions set out in an Authority Certificate or a Minister’s Certificate;
- Communicate secret information unauthorised;
- Fail to comply with landowner specifications; and
- Refuse to allow authorised persons access to sacred sites.
Mitigating factors and functions which are included in the Sacred Sites Act clarify the capacity of the Authority to carry out its functions and the accountabilities that apply:
- A holder of an Authority Certificate is indemnified against prosecution if, at any time in the future, they act in accordance with the conditions of the Certificate
- Before a sacred site is registered the Authority must provide the owner of land on which a site is situated with notice of the proposed registration and invite written representations. The Authority considers representations and makes findings on the detriment that the site registration may have on the owner’s proprietary interest in the land. The owner may apply for an Authority Certificate in relation to the registration of the site.
- A sacred site, once registered by the Authority, shall be accepted as prima facie evidence by all courts, judges and persons acting judicially.
- Aboriginal people have a right of access to sacred sites.
- There is a defence to prosecution if the defendant had no reasonable grounds for suspecting that the sacred site was a sacred site. This defence is limited on Aboriginal land, where there is a requirement to take steps to find out about sacred sites in the area to be visited.
- An applicant for an Authority Certificate may apply for a conference with the custodians, about their application, or about the conditions of an Authority Certificate. A conference can occur before or after the issuing of a Certificate by the Authority.