The Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act 1989 (NT) (NTASS Act) is the primary legislation for the protection of Indigenous heritage in the Northern Territory.
The NTASS Act creates a Register of Aboriginal sacred sites (s.10(d)) and a procedure for people who want to enter onto, use, or carry out works on, sacred sites for them to obtain approval (s.19B). The NTASS Act also establishes criminal offences for entering onto or damaging sacred sites (Part IV). The NTASS Act is administered by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.
The Aboriginal Land Rights Act (Northern Territory) 1976 (Cth) (ALRA) is Commonwealth legislation allowing for the granting of Aboriginal freehold title to the Traditional Owners. About 50% of the Northern Territory is now held as Aboriginal freehold, allowing traditional owners to consent or veto all activity on their lands, a power often used to protect sacred sites and cultural heritage. ALRA also establishes a criminal offence for entering or remaining on a sacred site without a legally valid reason (s.69).