Date: 15 September 2020
The Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA) has filed a charge against Parks Australia (Parks Australia) for work on a sacred site under section 34 of the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act 1989 (NT) (the Sacred Sites Act) in the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park.
Under the Sacred Sites Act, a person must not carry out work on a sacred site without an Authority Certificate.
In considering an Authority Certificate application, AAPA consults Aboriginal custodians to understand the extent to which the sacred sites should be protected and what restrictions and conditions need to apply to the proposed works.
The prosecution will allege that Parks Australia constructed a walking track on the sacred site located at Gunlom without an Authority Certificate and close to a ceremonial feature of the sacred site that is restricted according to Aboriginal tradition.
If convicted, the maximum penalty for a body corporate is 2,000 penalty units ($314,000).
Chairman of AAPA, Mr Bobby Nunggumarjbarr said:
"It is good that AAPA was able to listen to the concerns of the traditional owners and do a thorough investigation."
Mr Nunggumarjbarr also said:
"These things have happened in the past but we really need to work together to make sure things happen in the way that the traditional owners want them to.
In the future in Kakadu I want to see the Park and traditional owners and AAPA working closer together so that this kind of thing can’t happen again. I want to make sure all the sacred sites are protected in the future for the benefits of the traditional owners and the custodians and all the visitors."
As the matter is now before the court, there will be no further comment from the AAPA.
Media Contact Kate Sieper
0466 745 615