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Media Release

Date: 29th March 2021

The matter of Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority v the Director of National Parks was again listed today for a directions hearing in the Local Court in Darwin.

The matter relates to a breach of section 34 of the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act by Parks Australia in the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park.

The Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act currently represents the strongest legal protection for places of Aboriginal cultural heritage in Australia.

Under the Act, work must not be carried out on a sacred site without an Authority Certificate issued by the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA).

In considering an Authority Certificate application, AAPA consults Aboriginal custodians to understand what conditions must apply to proposed works to ensure the protection of sacred sites.

AAPA alleges that Parks Australia constructed a new walking track on the sacred site at Gunlom without an Authority Certificate and close to a key feature of the sacred site that is restricted according to Aboriginal tradition.

At today’s hearing Parks Australia sought another adjournment, rather than indicate whether or not it would plead guilty.

This charge was first laid more than six months ago, in September 2020. This further delay is extremely disappointing to the Aboriginal custodians of the Gunlom site. The AAPA opposed the adjournment and requested the matter be set down for trial.

However the Court granted the adjournment and listed the matter for a further directions hearing on 30 April.

Media Contact: Kate Sieper : 0466 745 615

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.