New NLC permit system good news for permit applicants

Date: Nov 1, 2020

Publication Type: Blog

Subject: Permits

The NLC has launched an online permit system, which will allow the NLC to manage permits to enter and remain on Aboriginal land more efficiently.

The NLC has launched a new online permit system that will allow the NLC to manage permits to enter and remain on Aboriginal land more efficiently, while ensuring the privacy of communities, homelands and sensitive areas.

Since the late 1970s, when the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (NT) came in to force, any non-Aboriginal person accessing Aboriginal land for work or recreational purposes has had to possess a valid permit. The NLC administers the permit system for most of the Aboriginal land in the Top End of the NT, a process that involves checking applications, setting conditions and monitoring compliance.

The new permit system provides improved visibility for the NLC, Traditional Owners, rangers and police about who is coming onto Aboriginal land and waters, and more comprehensive rules about what visitors can do when they visit.

The new system also allows the NLC to gather important information, such as trends in visitor numbers and compliance hotspots. This information will give Traditional Owners greater control in managing visitor numbers and their activities.

For permit applicants, the improved system provides a clearer and more streamlined experience and in the future it will provide more information about directions, distances and points of interest, be they historic, geographic or cultural.

“By moving permits from paper form to a digital process and streamlining access arrangements for permits, applicants will find the process faster and be properly informed about their obligations while on Aboriginal land,” said NLC CEO Marion Scrymgour. 

“At the same time, the permit reform undertaken by the NLC will allow Traditional Owners to have a greater say at the local level about setting conditions for access and activities and granting and revoking permits for their land and seas.”

The permit reform team will be continuing the process of engaging with Traditional Owners to set the terms and conditions that will be applied to visitors accessing their country.

The global coronavirus pandemic quickly brought into focus the importance of the NLC’s permit system as a means to know and control who is on Aboriginal land in the NLC’s region.

“The coronavirus pandemic shone a spotlight on the need for Traditional Owners to know exactly who is accessing Aboriginal land, and for what purpose,” said Ms Scrymgour. 

“For the foreseeable future, the NLC will continue to impose specific COVID-19 permit requirements on anyone who applies for a permit to access Aboriginal land in the NLC region."