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Fact Sheets


General FAQs

Can I request digital information of sacred sites?

The Authority does not generally provide the digital data of sacred sites and their boundaries. Requests are considered on a case by case basis by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

To request sacred site digital data, send an email to stating the information required, how and what it is to be used for. It will be considered by the CEO and if approved a digital data agreement will be prepared.

The Authority will supply the digital data of the Restricted Work Areas back to the applicant of a certificate.

To request this, an email should be sent through with information regarding the request for data and the certificate number. A digital data agreement will then be prepared for approval.

Can we get digital data of all AAPA sites?

No. The Authority’s database is constantly being updated and amended. What is current today could be out of date tomorrow.

What is the difference between Aboriginal Sacred Sites and sites protected by Heritage Branch?

According to the Sacred Sites Act, a sacred site is a site that is sacred to Aboriginal people or is otherwise of significance according to Aboriginal tradition, and includes any land that, under a law of the Northern Territory, is declared to be sacred to Aboriginals or of significance according to Aboriginal tradition.

The Heritage Act protects both natural and cultural heritage places and objects. Cultural heritage places protected by the Act include buildings, a range of structures and places associated with European settlement and maritime heritage. In addition, all Aboriginal and Maccassan archaeological sites are protected.

Indigenous Heritage can include places such as artefact scatters, shell middens, earth mounds, quarries, stone arrangements, rock shelters, rock art, burial sites and places that provide evidence of early contact between Aboriginal people and Europeans.

For further information contact the Heritage Branch, Department of Lands, Planning and the Environment on (08) 8999 5039 or email

If a recorded site has the same protection as a registered site why then does it need to be registered?

Custodians must agree for a site to be registered before a recorded site proceeds to registration. For this to happen, a custodian has to divulge a certain level of public information about the site to have it meet the requirements of registration and for placement on the public register.

The registration of sacred sites is the highest level of protection that can be afforded to a site. Registration of a site also enables users of land to have the best possible information regarding the site’s location and extent. For Aboriginal custodians, registration of a sacred site means that it will be accepted by a court as prima facie evidence that a place is a sacred site.

If a place is a sacred site, how does this affect access?

Unauthorised entry into a sacred site is punishable under the Sacred Sites Act. There are many places where unrestricted access is usually granted. Recreational places, National Parks and Reserves, common landmarks and prominent features often fall into this category. For proposed works or other unstipulated use on a sacred site, permission is required from custodians or approval from the Authority. A person may enter or carry out works on a sacred site if they have an Authority Certificate stating they may do so.

If I wish to access Aboriginal Land for work, what do I need to do?

For access to any Aboriginal Land in the Northern Territory you must contact the relevant Land Council to seek a permit to do so. If you are a Government employee you can be granted certain access without a permit.