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 (as defined in the National Capital Plan) are as follows:

  • Structures
  • Public sccess and/or safety
  • Duration of a protest
  • Permanence of structures
  • Impact on the landscape
  • The use of vehicles
  • The Australian Government's international obligations

What is a structure?

  • For approval purposes the broadest definition of a structure applies and includes anything that is built, including a fire. Structures therefore include any element fixed to (or staked in) the ground;
  • Blankets on the ground, individual chairs and/or individual tables (not fixed to the ground) do not require approval. Although where chairs or tables form a barricade or delineate a space they will be considered as structures and will require approval;
  • Signs, flags or banners that are handheld are not regarded as structures and do not require approval.

Public access and safety

No structure that impedes public access and/or affect safety will be approved. This means that:

  • Structures must not form a barrier that would restrict general public access to the site of the protest or demonstration (eg. barricades, closely spaced banners and flags; smoking fires etc);
  • Structures must not be erected in the general vicinity of other events (eg. festivals and/or other protests) which have had prior approval;
  • Generally structures will not be approved where it is proposed that they remain overnight (sunset to sunrise) to avoid potential hazard to the public and/or potential theft of the structures;
  • Structures must not impede land management and maintenance activities (eg. mowing, irrigation etc); and
  • Language or messages associated with any approved banners (or similar) are the sole responsibility of the protesters. Approval does not imply endorsement of the content of the banner by the NCA. The NCA is not a censor. Protesters should, however, be aware that Australia has an obligation to protect the premises of a diplomatic mission and to prevent the impairment of the mission’s dignity.

No long-term or permanent structures will be approved. This means that:

  • Generally the maximum duration of the approval will be for 3 days;
  • Further applications will not be considered within 30 days for the same (or similar) protest in the same general vicinity, to avoid a cumulative effect resulting in the perception of permanence;
  • Generally structures will be required to be removed each evening by sunset, and may not be replaced the next day before sunrise (for the period of the approval) in order to avoid public hazard, theft or perceptions of permanence;
  • No camping structures (eg. tents) will be approved overnight (sunset to sunrise); and
  • Camping is not permissible in other than Gazetted camping areas.

No structures that damage the landscape or built elements will be approved. This means that:

  • Fires on the ground will not be approved;
  • Generally structures attached to landscape (trees etc) or other Commonwealth assets such as walls, bollards, flagpoles or other items of street furniture will not be approved;
  • Excavation for structures will not be approved. This does not include single poles or banners staked in the ground which would be considered for approval provided they do not (in combination) create the appearance of a more substantial structure.

Vehicles

  • Vehicles driven or parked on public landscaped areas are not acceptable as they are likely to damage the landscape and pose a potential hazard to the public;
  • Vehicles must be legally parked; and
  • Immobilised vehicles are regarded as structures and will not be approved.

Diplomatic Areas - Vienna Convention Obligations

  • 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.

Works Approval Applications

Please visit the WAeL webpage for information on how to submit a Works Approval application.