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Damaging or Desecrating Protected Places

In NSW it is an offence to damage or desecrate certain protected places. The offence prohibits people from vandalising, damaging or defiling any shrine, monument or statue that is located in a public place. Examples of protected places include war memorials, such as the Anzac Memorial Hyde Park and its surrounding sculptures and structures and the statue of Queen Victoria on George Street Town Hall outside the Queen Victoria building.

A person can be charged with this offence if they break, vandalise, damage, urinate on or in some other way defile a public shrine, statue or monument.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 40 penalty units.

What Actions Might Constitute Damaging or Desecrating Protected Places?

Examples of Damaging or Desecrating Protected Places include:

  • Urinating on the Anzac War Memorial in Hyde Park;
  • Using spray paint to write something offensive on Sydney’s Parliament House;
  • Pouring blood over a shrine outside a church; or
  • Carving your initials on the outside of the Sydney Opera House.

What the Police Must Prove

To convict a person of Damaging or Desecrating Protected Places the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That they did an act;
  • That act damaged or desecrated a place; and
  • The place was a ‘protected place’, that is a shrine, monument or statue located in a public place.

Possible Defences for Damaging or Desecrating Protected Places

The common ways to defend this charge are:

  • To argue that what you did does not amount to damaging or desecrating the place;
  • To argue that the place is not a shrine, monument or statue;
  • To argue that the shrine, monument or statue is not in a public place; or


The offence is a summary offence and will be finalised in the Local Court.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

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