Communities and prescribed areas

The Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER), introduced by the former Australian Government, involves most Aboriginal townships and town camps in the Northern Territory.

Many critical measures apply over wide areas, entitled 'prescribed areas'. Prescribed areas are defined in the Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007 and include:

  • Aboriginal land defined under the Aboriginal Lands Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976
  • Roads, rivers, streams, estuaries or other areas on Aboriginal land
  • Areas known as Aboriginal Community Living Areas (a form of freehold title issued to Aboriginal corporations by the Northern Territory Government)
  • Town camps declared by the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (the Minister) under the Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007
  • Any other area declared by the Minister to be a prescribed area.

The Minister has the power to make a legislative instrument to include or exclude areas as prescribed areas. 

There are certain restrictions on what you can and can not do and possess on prescribed areas. For example, there are restrictions on the possession and transportation of alcohol on prescribed areas. Breaching such restrictions without the appropriate permit or licence can be an offence under the law.

Any declaration made by the Minister is published on the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments.

A full list of prescribed areas and maps can be found on this website.

Census data from 2006 indicates that an estimated 41,130 people live in the prescribed areas, of whom approximately 87 per cent are Indigenous Australians.

Prior to visiting a prescribed area please contact the relevant Land Council.

Content Updated: 4 June 2012