You can only enter and leave the biosecurity zones (the Barkly, Central Desert and MacDonnell regional council areas) with a negative rapid antigen test (RAT) and a permission letter from the CLC.

If you are in Alice Springs you will also need a negative RAT and a permission letter before you will be allowed to go home.

First go to 44 Bath Street (corner Bath Street and Gregory Terrace) to take a RAT test.

Then take your negative test result and you ID to our AAMC office in 71 Bath Street to apply for a permission letter.

Please come to the entrance on the back lane, off Stott Terrace.

The office will be open from Monday, and every weekday between 8:30 and 17:00.

If you test positive and you or your close contacts can’t go home please call the following emergency relief services:

  • Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council – 8958 2345
  • Tangentyere Council – 8951 4222
  • The Salvation Army – 13 72 58
  • Waltja Tjutangku Palyapayi – 8953 4488
  • Alice Springs Women’s Shelter 8952 6075

If you want to leave the Barkly regional council area please contact the CLC office in Tennant Creek on 8951 0540.

Our staff there will also need to see your negative RAT result and your ID.

You can also call us on 8951 0600 during business hours.

The Central Land Council strongly supports the biosecurity determination in the Northern Territory and is appealing to remote community residents to stay safe in their communities and local government areas.

“We called for this circuit breaker, among other measures, to slow down the out-of-control spread of the virus in our remote communities,” CLC chief executive Les Turner said.

He said the measures will help hospitals cope, the NT Government to get on top of the underreporting of positive cases and buy time to lift vaccination rates in the Barkly and Central Australia.

“In remote communities such as in Wilora, two hours north of Alice Springs, only half of the people aged five years and over have received their second vaccination while in Alpurrurulam, near the Queensland border, only 38 per cent are fully vaccinated.”

Mr Turner said the circuit breaker will save lives if everyone pulls together and shares resources.

“The CLC asked for rapid response teams to test and trace and to set up isolation facilities in our communities for the many people who can’t isolate in their overcrowded houses.”

From today, remote community residents in Alice Springs will need a negative rapid antigen test and a permission letter from the CLC before they will be allowed to return home.

Remote community residents will also need a negative test and a CLC permission letter before they can leave their respective areas.

Mr Turner again called for the Australian Defence Force to help the NT Government staff road blocks to enforce the biosecurity restrictions and assist with evacuations.

“This must not become another missed opportunity to call on the army to help manage the pandemic,” he said.

“Governments, Aboriginal organisations and communities must now work together to save lives.”

Essential service providers will be free to move around but the biosecurity declaration affects other CLC permits that have already been granted.

“All CLC permits, except for essential workers and transit, are no longer valid while the biosecurity determination is in force,” Mr Turner said.

3 February 2022

Dear Chief Minister,

As Aboriginal organisations representing our communities across the Northern Territory, we are writing to you about the rapidly escalating COVID-19 outbreak in Central Australia.

We have been advocating continuously for firm action to slow the outbreak since it began in the early days of 2022. However, our requests have been ignored, or action taken too late or on too small a scale to make a real difference.

There has been a significant failure by government agencies in Central Australia to put into practice the plans agreed with your government before the outbreak.

This has directly led to COVID spreading out of control in the Aboriginal communities of Central Australia and beyond.

Because there is a lag between infections and hospitalisations, it is too early to become complacent and suggest that the rising case numbers will not lead to severe disease and deaths.

We don’t think we should have been put in the situation where it is primarily Aboriginal people who are being asked to take the risk that Omicron is only a mild virus, when public health measures properly implemented could have prevented many of the cases we are now seeing.

We are now left with no alternative but to call upon you to intervene and impose an immediate lockdown across Central Australia.

This is our last chance to flatten the curve of new infections and hospitalisations and save lives that will otherwise be lost.

Emergency Response – Implementation failures

The spread of COVID now appears to be out of control in the Aboriginal community in Alice Springs and Central Australia. Many of the issues we are facing were foreseen, and plans made to address them.

But there has been a catastrophic failure by government to discharge its responsibility to all Northern Territory residents by implementing these plans in Central Australia.

The failures include:
• late introduction of a vaccine pass system, which should have been introduced in the second half of 2021 to encourage people to get vaccinated

• late introduction of a mask mandate for high risk events, leading to low compliance at New Year’s Eve events, at least one of which was a ‘super-spreader’ incident

• slow and inadequate follow up of those who had attended the critical New Year’s Eve event, including some who became infected and returned to overcrowded households in Alice Springs houses, town camps and remote communities including Yuendumu. There was an inadequate Test, Trace, Isolate and Quarantine (TTIQ) response even though the initial outbreak was in Alice Springs

• failure to promptly list the New Years Eve party as a public exposure site so that people who had attended could be aware of their additional risk

• when positive cases were located in crowded households, they were left at home for more than 48 hours by which time the virus had spread within and between households and then to other town camps and houses. This was in contravention of all agreed plans to remove positive cases immediately from households where they were unable to safely self-isolate

• failure to stand up adequate supervised isolation facilities, despite numerous urgent requests to do so. This led to long delays in removing positive cases from crowded households, with many of these people leaving their houses in the meantime. While the NT Police have done a great job in finding people who were supposed to be self-isolating at home, it was often not until many others had been exposed to the virus

• lack of adequate resources for testing and contact tracing, with the burden for much of this work transferred from the responsible government agencies to Aboriginal organisations who were already overburdened with providing health and community services

• failure to seek additional health and logistical support from Australian Government agencies, including the Australian Defence Force which could for example have been used to stand up an additional isolation facility in Alice Springs and/or provide immediate transport of positive cases to the Centre for National Resilience

• failure to set up and share adequate data systems to keep track of cases by locality over time on a daily basis so the trend of what is happening is clear.

Immediate steps required

We are now calling upon your Government to impose an immediate lockdown in Central Australia to stop the movement of people and flatten the curve of new infections and hospitalisations.

It is vital to act now because we know that if allowed to continue to spread, this virus will seek out the vulnerable and the unvaccinated, whether Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal, across Central Australia and beyond.

A lockdown will allow time for:
• primary contacts to be tested, identified and where appropriate removed to supervised isolation in the Centre for National Resilience or regional isolation facilities as soon as these can be developed

• effective new oral treatments for COVID to be distributed across Central Australia and especially to remote communities

• a Rapid Response Team to be stood up for Alice Springs and remote communities in Central Australia with a particular focus on testing and reactive vaccination

• adequate numbers of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) and N95 masks to be distributed

• effective data systems to be established (and shared) so new cases and trends can be monitored in real time

• more people over the age of 18 to receive their crucial third or booster dose of a COVID vaccine and for children to be vaccinated

• further consultation with Land Councils and other organisations about how best to reduce movement into and between remote communities

• urgent consultation and planning with the Australian Government including the Australian Defence Force to ensure their support.

Chief Minister, despite the failures so far in Central Australia, it is not too late to act.

We urge you to ignore those who say it is too difficult, too late, or too expensive, or that the Omicron variant of COVID is a mild disease and that we need not worry about it.

There is a way forward, and we are counting on you to act urgently to protect the residents of Central Australia.

Josie Douglas A/g CEO, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress
Les Turner CEO, Central Land Council

John Paterson CEO, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory

Graeme Smith CEO, Lhere Artepe

The Central Land Council has called for an urgent lockdown of remote communities to save lives in the face of government inaction, complacency and underreporting of positive COVID cases out bush.

“We need a circuit breaker to slow down the out-of-control spread of the virus in our communities,” CLC chief executive Les Turner said.

“When our overworked health services which have been left to carry the can on the ground are telling us that the positive cases they are picking up are not reflected in the official figures we should all be very alarmed.”

“We all use the same hospitals and will be very much in it together when they become overwhelmed.”

“The Territory and Australian governments must now collaborate on enforcing a lockdown until the situation out bush is under control because lives are at stake,” Mr Turner said.

“We need the police and the Australian Defence Force to staff road blocks to restrict movement between communities and into regional centres, to provide residents with remote isolation facilities and a surge workforce to help test, trace, isolate, quarantine and vaccinate them.”

Mr Turner said a number of super spreader events have contributed to the explosion of positive cases, but Aboriginal people are taking action.

“Many of our constituents are now delaying funerals to slow the spread of COVID and we are supporting them by deferring the allocation of funeral funding assistance through the Aboriginals Benefit Account until the outbreak is under control.”

“Our people and their organisations are doing their bit. They now need both governments to stop burying their heads in the sand, face facts and back them,” Mr Turner said.

26 January 2022

Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT (APO NT) today called for urgent action from the Commonwealth Government in the face of a growing emergency in the COVID-19 response in the Northern Territory.

“Despite a lot of hard work and good collaboration on the part of government and Aboriginal community sector organisations, the haste towards living with COVID is pushing the health system, Aboriginal community service organisations and the communities they serve to the brink”, APO NT spokesperson, John Paterson said.

“We need urgent direct support from the Commonwealth Government”.

“The multiple outbreaks we are now seeing in remote communities and in our towns have been fuelled by a critical shortage of workforce, testing and logistical capacity that is overwhelming local health services and exhausted staff, leading to rapid, avoidable spread of the virus”.

“Critical shortages in availability of Rapid Antigen Tests is leaving Aboriginal health and community service organisations with insufficient capacity to test their own staff, let alone the needs of the community members they serve. The result is that infected individuals are not being identified and are spreading the virus undetected.

“The dispute between the NT Government and the Commonwealth over who is responsible for providing RAT tests must be resolved and sufficient stocks made available to communities free of charge without delay”.

“Without access to RAT tests, free of charge, vulnerable communities and community members remain exposed and unprotected”.

“The health system response is also facing critical transport, logistical and isolation capacity shortfalls, meaning that infected people are not removed into isolation rapidly or are being left to isolate in overcrowded and inadequate accommodation”.

“We need to see infected people rapidly moved into adequate, supported isolation accommodation”.

“Recent outbreaks across different custodial and other centres serving vulnerable populations such as dialysis accommodation and aged care, is further cause for concern and requires urgent action to improve access to testing, isolation and treatment”.

“A critical health workforce shortage is also slowing efforts to improve vaccination rates, with primary doses ongoing and the urgent need to provide boosters and the commencement of vaccinations of 5-11 year olds stretching vaccination teams”.

“A surge workforce is urgently needed to deal with the current crisis”.

“Concern is also being raised at the local level about a looming food security crisis”.

“The Commonwealth Government, including through the specialised capacities of the Australian Defence Force, must be requested to bolster the overstretched capacities of the NT Government and Aboriginal community controlled organisations”.

“This is the time, when the essential elements of the COVID response are faltering, to enlist the direct support of the Commonwealth and Defence Force to assist in critical areas of the response”.

“This can include transport and logistics, emergency isolation accommodation, and clinical support teams, including doctors and nurses etc. – that can make the difference between success or failure”.

“APO NT is only too aware that the high price to be paid for failing will fall heavily on our communities and those most at risk”, Mr Paterson concluded.

Media comment: John Paterson, 0418 904 727

The Central Land Council supports the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT’s demand to be consulted by the NT Government and for accurate COVID vaccination statistics.

“We call on the NT Government to use the Commonwealth’s reliable vaccination numbers so we can have a bit more confidence that the NT’s opening-up plans don’t put the lives of remote community residents at risk,” CLC chief executive Les Turner said.

“The NT’s vaccination statistics are inflated and lack credibility.

“The real vaccination numbers are at least 10 per cent lower than the NT Government claims. It must stop the spin and get with the program.”

Mr Turner said the government must stop making announcements about the pandemic without first consulting with Aboriginal medical services.

“This is not just policy on the run – it’s policy about us, but without us.

“We will no longer tolerate this pattern of the NT Government ignoring the views of Aboriginal people and their representatives as soon as it gets pressure from industry – in this case tourism and hospitality – or not even seeking their views in the first place.”


Due to the current Covid-19 outbreak in the Northern Territory, a number of travel restrictions are in place for those wishing to enter or travel through communities in Central Australia, including Mutitjulu.

Anyone located within the Alice Springs lockdown area, as designated by the Northern Territory Government’s Chief Health Officer (CHO), is prohibited from leaving this area until 1pm on 3 July 2021 unless advised otherwise by the CHO. Travelling to Mutitjulu from this area is therefore prohibited.

Travel to Mutitjulu is also prohibited for anyone located within other lockdown areas or Covid-19 hotspots as designated by the CHO until such a time as that declaration is removed.

Any essential workers (as defined by the Northern Territory Government) wishing to travel to Mutitjulu from a designated lockdown area or hotspot are advised to contact the Northern Territory Government’s Coronavirus Lockdown Advice Hotline at 1800 193 111 to ensure they meet the essential worker requirements and have obtained the relevant paper work prior to travelling.

Mutitjulu residents who are currently in the designated lockdown area and unable to return home during this period are advised to contact the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress on (08) 8951 4400 or Tangentyere Council on 08 8951 4222.

To protect the Central Australian communities, the Central Land Council (CLC) has also suspended all permits for Aboriginal Land outside of the current lockdown area with the exception of essential workers. Essential workers wishing to travel to Mutitjulu should contact the Northern Territory Government’s Northern Territory Government’s Coronavirus Lockdown Advice Hotline at 1800 193 111 prior to travelling.

Anyone currently in, or planning to travel to, Kata Tjuta National Park must check the latest Northern Territory Government travel restrictions and follow the advice provided by the CHO. Parks Australia will be checking the movements of everyone entering the Park. You will not be allowed to enter if you have travelled through an identified lockdown area or hotspot.

Any visitors to Kata Tjuta National Park who have been in a lockdown area or hotspot within the identified periods and are staying at the Ayers Rock Resort should contact the Resort on 08 8957 7417 to arrange appropriate isolation and testing as required by the CHO.

Please re-consider your need to travel to Aboriginal Land during this time. Protecting our community remains the responsibility of everyone, and we ask that you respect the wishes of our Aboriginal communities during this difficult period.

For further information on the current travel restrictions in place for Mutitjulu please contact the:

For the most up to date information and frequently asked questions about the Alice Springs lockdown and current Covid-19 exposure sites, visit

For current information about COVID-19 Coronavirus:
Coronavirus Health Information Line
1800 020 080
Call for information on Coronavirus COVID-19. Operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

NT COVID-19 Hotline
1800 490 484
Coronavirus (COVID-19) (
For information on COVID-19 in the Territory call the hotline.

NT Coronavirus Lockdown Advice Hotline
1800 193 111
For information on lockdown arrangements call the hotline.

Australian Government Department of Health
Latest news, alerts and situation status within Australia. Protection advice and fact sheets.

Latest news, alerts, situation status and advice relevant to the Northern Territory. Health message recordings in Aboriginal languages.

World Health Organisation (WHO)
Public advice for personal and organisational protection, global situation updates.

Office of Township Leasing
Pennie Weedon
1800 152 259

NIAA Media Contact
0418 158 629

The Central Land Council, with the support of the Northern Land Council, calls on the NT Government to keep the NT borders with all other jurisdictions closed until community transmission of COVID-19 has been eliminated in Australia, and to reinstate mandatory motel quarantine for 14 days.

The CLC executive resolved today that “if the government ignores our recommendation and decides to open up the Territory’s borders, it should only do this in a ‘travel bubble’”.

People from COVID hotspots anywhere in Australia must be required to undertake mandatory supervised quarantine for 14 days, the resolution states.

It says that the NT Government must implement the ‘Contain and Test Strategy’ in all remote communities, irrespective of what is in the local community’s pandemic plan.

It calls on the government to “implement a community engagement strategy so every person in a community knows what will happen if there’s an outbreak”.

It also asks the NT Chief Health Officer to immediately re-issue an order requiring everyone except for close family members to comply with physical distancing rules in public.

The Northern Land Council supports the resolution.

“I’m not at all for the borders to open on July 17,” NLC chair Samuel Bush-Blanasi said.

“Chief Minister Michael Gunner should really be talking to the land councils about reopening the border at a later date because of the hotspots in Melbourne and elsewhere,” he said.

“I’m calling on him to please talk with us and let’s consider a better outcome for everyone in the Territory.”

CLC chair Sammy Wilson added: “The safety of Territorians is the main thing and any border openings must be carefully considered by the government and the land councils together”.

Anyone except for essential workers must quarantine in Alice Springs or Tennant Creek for two weeks before they will be allowed to return to remote communities in the biosecurity areas across the Central Land Council region.

Until the quarantine services were running, the CLC had provided permission letters on a case-by-case basis to residents who needed to visit Alice Springs or Tennant Creek in exceptional circumstances so they could return to their locked-down communities inside the biosecurity areas.

It also gave permission letters to residents of outstations who had jobs in town, had no access to a store or a clinic, allowing them to return home without the need to quarantine.

As of 23 April, the federal government, on the CLC’s recommendation, excluded outstations near Alice Springs from the biosecurity areas.

“This means Aboriginal people who live on nearby outstations will finally be treated just like other rural residents on the outskirts of town,” CLC chief executive Joe Martin-Jard said.

“This change was overdue and we are pleased that the government has listened to us.”

“Now that the NT government has supervised quarantine facilities in place, permission letters are only for emergencies.

Remote community residents and interstate arrivals will need to quarantine in a hostel or motel in town for two weeks before they can go home.

“If remote community residents need to come to town for medical reasons they will need to contact their clinic or the hospital before they travel so they can organise for them to return home again,” said Mr Martin-Jard.

“From today, my staff will be telling everyone: if you are at home please stay there. You are safest from the coronavirus in your community.”

“In the meantime, we will hold governments to their promises that people will have what they need to stay safe and well in the biosecurity areas.”

For more information about the NT’s quarantine process, please go to or email

MEDIA CONTACT: Elke Wiesmann | 08 8951 6217 |

Northern Territory Aboriginal leaders have united to call on Chief Minister Michael Gunner to “do what it takes” and immediately declare the entire Territory and the remote tri-state border region in South Australia and Western Australia a special control area.

The Aboriginal Peak Organisations of the NT (APO NT) have requested an urgent meeting with Aboriginal leaders and Mr Gunner to progress the establishment of the quarantine zone before it is too late.

The call follows the first two cases of a Territorian testing positive for the coronavirus in Darwin today.

“If this virus gets into our communities it will wipe out an entire generation of elders and many, many younger people as well,” John Paterson, the CEO of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the NT, said.

“The only way to prevent this from happening is to accept the reality that it is simply not possible to stop remote community residents from travelling between communities and regional centres and that here in the Territory we are all in this together.”

“We have a unique chance to keep everyone safe from the virus, but only if we act fast now. If we fail to take our lucky chance while we still can, history will surely condemn us,” Central Land Council CEO Joe Martin-Jard said.

“The door is now open for Mr Gunner to listen to Aboriginal leaders and act for the good of all Territorians.”

APO NT noted the National Cabinet’s in-principle agreement to restrict travel into remote Aboriginal communities to prevent the spread of the virus.

The agreement allows Mr Gunner to nominate the special control area as soon as possible and restrict persons from entering or leaving it while granting exemptions to essential service providers.

Media contact: Elke Wiesmann, 0417 877 579,

Protect the Territory while we still can – with a special control area

The Central Land Council strongly backs the call of the Combined Aboriginal Organisations of Alice Springs to declare the entire Northern Territory a special control area.

“Unlike the rest of the country, the Territory is ahead of the curve,” CLC chief executive Joe Martin-Jard said. “We need urgent and drastic action now to keep it that way.”

“Right now, we have a small window of opportunity to stop the virus from spreading in the Territory and we want governments to “do what it takes” to use it.

“If we don’t act now we will sooner or later end up with the same level of infection as Sydney and Melbourne, only with far fewer hospital beds and other basic health resources to treat our sick.”

“Our constituents worry that an entire generation of elders could be wiped out if we allowed the virus to enter their communities, and that the death toll even among younger family members would be far higher than for the rest of the nation.”

“It would be unforgivable to let that happen.”

The CLC is using all available communications channels to reassure remote community residents that, as long as they are not sick and need health services in regional centres, right now the safest place for them is in their communities and outstations.

“We’re telling them to stay on country and look after family and we will absolutely hold the NT government to its promise that they will have everything they need right there,” said Mr Martin-Jard.

In order to encourage people to spend their money in their own stores governments should subsidise store operators to offer goods at the same prices as major supermarkets in town.

“We need price parity with Alice Springs and Tennant Creek to support people to stay on country,” he said.

“The federal government’s $750 cash payment won’t go very far in community stores, where prices are approximately 60 per cent higher and this will be an incentive for our people to travel to town to do their shopping.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Elke Wiesmann | 0417 877 579|

The Central Land Council has appealed to everyone to protect vulnerable Territorians by suspending all non-essential visits to remote communities.

“We want anyone who is not delivering health, supplies and other essential services to cancel their trips,” said CLC chief executive Joe Martin-Jard.

“Our members are extremely concerned about the potential spread of the virus to their communities and we will support them if they want to impose restrictions.”

Mr Martin-Jard said the CLC last week cancelled large meetings across its region as a public health measure.

“Our first council meeting of the year, planned for Tennant Creek in April, and our annual ranger camp scheduled for next week the Ross River Resort have been cancelled.

“Both meetings would have brought together hundreds of people whose families have significant health issues.”

“No doubt this won’t be the last meetings we will cancel or postpone to protect our constituents.”

The CLC will use videoconferencing for other meetings wherever possible for the foreseeable future.

Last week it invalidated all permits already granted to people who had been to any of the countries covered by Australian Government travel advisories in the previous fortnight.

MEDIA CONTACT: Elke Wiesmann | 0417 877 579|