Silhouetted people standing on the edge of the Gunlom Falls top pool

AAPA welcomes guilty plea from the Director of National Parks


The Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority today welcomed news that the Director of National Parks intends to plead guilty to breaches of the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act. 

It is alleged by the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority that in early 2019 National Parks disregarded the wishes of custodians, and without authorisation undertook works that exposed to the public a restricted feature of the Gunlom sacred site in Kakadu National Park.

The AAPA commenced prosecution against National Parks in 2020, but the matter was deferred when National Parks claimed crown immunity and argued it could not be prosecuted under the NT Sacred Sites Act.

The question of crown immunity was resolved in the High Court earlier this month, when it was unanimously ruled that the Director of National Parks could be held to account under the NT Sacred Sites Act. 

Dr Benedict Scambary, AAPA Chief Executive Officer said today’s news of a guilty plea is welcome and long overdue.

“The World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park is Aboriginal land, leased back to the Commonwealth and jointly-managed by National Parks and Aboriginal custodians.

“It contains many important sacred sites, including Gunlom Falls, which Aboriginal custodians have shared with visitors for many years. 

“While the matter is still to be heard in the NT Local Court, today’s announcement from the new Director of National Parks is a welcome step forward in resolving this case.

“The Commonwealth should feel ashamed to have spent so many years in the court fighting this issue.” 

The matter has been set for a directions hearing on 29 July in the NT Local Court