The National Capital has many public places where people can exercise their right to communicate their opinions and ideas through peaceful protests and demonstrations.
Our democracy recognises this right which is subject to the general law and must be balanced against the rights and interests of others and of the community as a whole. Of paramount importance are the protection of public safety, the maintenance of peace and the facilitation of fair and equal access to public areas.
An information booklet has been prepared by the Federal Government to assist organisers to carry out their protests safely, peacefully and without unduly impacting on other legitimate interests and can be found at the bottom of this page.
You do not require formal approval to conduct a protest or demonstration within the National Capital. However, the erection of structures associated with a protest or demonstration do require approval. In either case, it may be in your interests if you are planning a protest or demonstration to discuss your plans with the relevant authorities.
National Land in the National Triangle and the diplomatic areas is managed by the National Capital Authority (NCA). The Presiding Officers have the discretion to approve or not approve the conduct of protests, demonstrations or public assemblies including public activities within the Parliamentary Precincts. Most public land outside these areas within the Australian Capital Territory is managed by the ACT Government. Information about Territory land is available from the Department of Territory and Municipal Services.
You are required to comply with any lawful direction given by Parliamentary Security, Australian Federal Police or Australian Protective Service officers.
GPO Box 373
CANBERRA ACT 2601
Tel: (02) 6272 2888
The NCA can assist with:
You must have written approval from the NCA before erecting any structures on National Land. This includes the land in the National Triangle and in the Diplomatic areas of Yarralumla, Deakin, O’Malley, Forrest, Curtin and Red Hill. The NCA also manages Lake Burley Griffin.
Tel: 131 444
You should contact ACT Policing when planning a protest. They can provide advice on, and assistance with safety and security matters and traffic controls.
Tel: (02) 6207 6601
You should advise Roads ACT if you wish to organise a march using public roads. The ACT Government is responsible for roads in the ACT, which are outside the national areas. ACT Roads can assist with road closures and traffic management.
Tel: (02) 5126 9066
Tel: (02) 6277 5855
Tel: (02) 6277 5999 (after hours)
You should contact the Security Controller before using land within the Parliamentary Precincts.
Tel: (02) 6207 0494 or 13 2281
The ACT Government is responsible for managing the land outside the national areas. To discuss the use of unleased Territory Land, contact the above telephone numbers.
Tel: 13 1450
For assistance with translation and interpreting, the Service operates 24 hours each day.
The following Guidelines have been prepared by the NCA and the Presiding Officers for the conduct of protests and demonstrations within the Parliamentary Precincts and on adjacent land, including Federation Mall.
These Guidelines are intended to enhance public safety, facilitate fair and equal access to public areas, and protect the operations of the Parliament. Exemptions may be granted for events of Parliamentary or National significance where safety or access would not be unduly compromised. Breach of the Guidelines may lead to the removal of structures by police and, possibly, police investigations and prosecution.
The NCA will only approve structures within the Parliamentary Precincts, on Federation Mall or in Adjacent Areas when the Presiding Officers have advised the NCA in writing of their support for the application. In this regard the NCA will conduct all liaison, on behalf of the applicants, with the Presiding Officers.
If you wish to organise a march, procession or convoy using public roads, you should contact the Australian Federal Police, Roads ACT and the Department of Territory and Municipal Services, to ensure the safety of participants and the public.
Here are some suggestions for your march:
If you are planning to conduct your protest in a Designated Area as defined in the National Capital Plan and intend to erect a structure as part of your protest, you must apply to the NCA for Works Approval under the provisions of Section 12(1)(b) of the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988. The Designated Areas include the National Triangle, the Diplomatic areas of Yarralumla, Deakin, O’Malley, Forrest, Curtin and Red Hill, most Commonwealth Government offices, the main avenues and approach routes to Canberra, and Civic Square. The National Triangle is the area between Parliament House and Lake Burley Griffin bounded by Commonwealth and Kings Avenues.
The key criteria which will be used by the NCA when considering any application for a Works Approval associated with protests and demonstrations anywhere within a Designated Area are as follows:
No structure that impedes public access and/or affect safety will be approved. This means that:
No long-term or permanent structures will be approved. This means that:
No structures that damage the landscape or built elements will be approved. This means that:
Australia is a signatory to the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations which require Australia to take special steps to protect the premises of foreign missions against any intrusion, damage, disturbance, or impairment of dignity.
In accordance with Australia’s international obligations, structures which impair the dignity of foreign missions will not be approved.
Please visit the Works Approval page for information on how to submit a Works Approval application.