The CLC Sacred Site Clearance Certificate

A CLC Sacred Site Clearance Certificate serves a two-fold purpose.

Firstly, it serves to prevent damage to, and interference with, Aboriginal sacred sites. The certificate achieves this by setting out conditions in relation to entering and working on the subject land.

An applicant, when applying for a certificate, agrees to be bound by the conditions of the certificate.

Secondly, a certificate serves to protect the Applicant against prosecution for entering, damaging, or interfering with sacred sites under the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act and the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 .

It achieves this by providing the applicant with documentary evidence that the custodians and traditional Aboriginal owners of the subject land have been consulted and consent to the Applicant's proposed works.

How do I apply for a Sacred Site Clearance Certificate?

An application form must be completed and submitted to the CLC with supporting documentation. Application forms are available at CLC reception, 27 Stuart Hwy , Alice Springs, ph (08) 8951 6211, or through the link above.

Who should apply for a CLC Sacred Site Clearance Certificate?

Aboriginal Land

A person who proposes to carry out work on Aboriginal land is required to obtain a CLC Sacred Site Clearance Certificate.

Non-Aboriginal Land

A CLC Sacred Site Clearance Certificate may be a condition of an agreement between the Applicant and the CLC in relation to works on non-Aboriginal land. Such agreements may include Indigenous Land Use Agreements under the Native Title Act. If a person is proposing to carry out work on non-Aboriginal land and there is no agreement between the Applicant and the CLC requiring a CLC Sacred Site Clearance Certificate, the Applicant may need to obtain an Authority Certificate from the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority in order to protect itself against prosecution under the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act .

What will the CLC do once it receives an application?

After receiving your completed application, the CLC will consult with traditional Aboriginal owners of the subject land about the proposed works. In some cases the CLC will have standing instructions and further consultations will not be necessary. If the CLC is satisfied that the proposed work program does not present a risk of damage to or interference with a sacred site, and the traditional Aboriginal owners consent to the works on that basis, the CLC will issue a Sacred Site Clearance Certificate to the applicant. The certificate will include conditions to protect sacred sites.

How much does a Certificate cost?

The CLC seeks to recover the costs of certain consultations with traditional Aboriginal owners. Costs are determined on a case-by-case basis and are calculated using an established schedule of fees and charges. Most consultation costs associated with resource exploration are recovered.

Do I need a permit to enter Aboriginal Land ?

A CLC Sacred Site Clearance Certificate is not a permit to enter Aboriginal Land, but if you are proposing to enter Aboriginal land granted under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act, 1976 (Cth) then you will most likely require an entry permit from the CLC.

Application forms for entry permits are available from the CLC Permits Section, ph (08) 8951 6320, or on this website.

To expedite your permit application, include your CLC Sacred Site Clearance Certificate number, if known, in your application.

More about the importance of sacred sites and the CLC's work to help protect them

Sacred sites are places of deep spiritual significance and are an integral part of Aboriginal culture. Their protection is vital for the continuation of religious and cultural traditions, for the maintenance of environmental balance and as a source of identity for Aboriginal people.

The Central Land Council has the duty of helping Aboriginal people to take the measures 'likely to assist in the protection of sacred sites'. One way that the CLC and traditional owners protect sacred sites is through the site clearance process.

A site clearance is triggered by a request to work on Aboriginal land, and it is completed prior to the proposed commencement date of the work. Through the clearance process, traditional owners gain a sound understanding of the request, enabling them to make informed decisions about it.

Each year the CLC receives numerous requests from government agencies, public sector corporations, mining and other commercial interests seeking permission from Aboriginal landowners to undertake a diverse range of activities on their lands.

The first step in the site clearance process, and in consultations about any other proposal, involves identifying the traditional owners of the land in question. This is vital, as it is the Central Land Council's statutory responsibility to ensure traditional landowners are correctly identified.

The land council must 'consult with traditional Aboriginal owners of Aboriginal land in the area of the Land Council with respect to any proposal relating to the use of the land'. Once they are identified, CLC staff (and representatives of those submitting the work program) discuss the land use proposal with them to ensure they are fully informed of, and understand the nature and scope of, the request.

In this way, the land council ascertains 'the wishes' of traditional owners 'as to the management of land'.

If, as generally is the case, the traditional owners are, in principle, in favour of the work proceeding, they and CLC staff travel across the country covered by the proposal. Through this clearance activity, traditional owners are able, where they deem necessary, to place any culturally sensitive areas off limits. The CLC also ensures that the wishes of traditional owners regarding activities on their lands are made known to those making the requests.