Legislate for Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Properties (ICIP) protection

Legislate for Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Properties (ICIP) protection

7 August 2022
Signatures: 334Next goal: 500
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Why this petition matters

Started by Cultural Arts Mob

Address the needs for legislation and protections of Custodial Rights to Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property (ICIP)

Productivity Commission Cultural Legislation Recommendation

This is a moment in time where the Productivity Commission is making recommendations to the Australian government for ‘standalone’ protections and legislation for the protection of Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Properties (ICIP).

By signing this petition, you are asking the government to act now on the protection of ICIP and any associated rights.  


Calling on:

Minister for the Arts – Hon. Tony Burke MP

Minister for Indigenous Australians – Hon. Linda Burney MP



Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must have the legacy and inheritance of Culture and Cultural expression to freely use and enjoy, Culturally, economically and traditionally.

Cultural assets and traditions must be protected under standalone legislation.

Inappropriate usage of symbols, iconography, stories and ICIP needs to be protected and asserted by usage as Traditional Owners with prior and informed consent. Government to reflect this in standalone legislation developing protections and punitive measures with accountability and implementation of legislation.

This includes better coordination of services and service delivery into the creative sectors, economic development, enterprise, employment both direct and indirect, compliance and complaints handling for all artists, Traditional Owners and community development.

Many parts of industry, government, education and consumer go through backchannels to assess Culture and Cultural assets with areas of exploitation, unethical treatment, modern-day slavery, removing free, prior and informed consent while taking Culture through current legal frameworks, taking IP, copyright and royalties in perpetuity. These actions undermine self-determination and denies access by any Traditional Owner groups to enjoy economic benefits, access to market both domestic and international, patents and many other areas associated with Cultural knowledge systems.

By protecting and legislating Cultural knowledges using ICIP frameworks will allow for future punitive measures to address ‘fake art’ with swing tags, education for wider community; furthermore, the underlying ethical and moral questions on art acquisition. Focusing on ‘fake art’ upfront is a distraction away from the real challenges of protecting Cultural Heritage and its associated assets and benefits through legislation.

The legislation needs to protect, art, dance, song, story, language, foods & fibers, lores (laws), traditional and contemporary customs while aligning to the United Nations ‘Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ reserving the rights to maintain, practice and enjoy cultural expressions; furthermore, a document that the Australia government still has not signed, agreed or endorsed.

Conversations on ‘Treaty’ and a ‘Voice to Parliament’, even the new national 'Cultural Policy' (with the recommended standing pillar of First Nations) is undermined by the Australian government not taking a position on Cultural legislation and protections for First Nations. It is imperative that the Australian government moves on legislation regardless of any ‘Treaty’ or ’Voice to Parliament’ conversation processes and needs to happen regardless of these processes’ outcomes. How can we discuss these priorities if we can’t get to rightful, moral and ethical protections in the eyes of the law?

Policy needs to reflect all parts of community including urban, regional and remote. Most importantly, legislation needs to be developed in partnership with our First Nations groups and not under a consultation process. It is ultimately up to First Nations' groups to decide on what protections are needed and how this would look before government looks towards delivery and implementation. This is a fundamental step in self-determination, ‘Treaty’ and a ‘Voice to Parliament’ must be enshrined in this. This process should be led by Dr. Terri Janke.


The legislation needs to be robust but not limited to areas such as:

1.       Copyright infringement

2.       Appropriation and misappropriation

3.       Exploitation

4.       Legal contract arrangements through procurement

5.       Digital image usages

6.       Ethical dealings with prior and informed consent

7.       Right People for Country

8.       Secret & Sacred

9.       Education (community and wider-community) and consumer confidence

10.     Training and skills development


Examples of Cultural heritage protections can be found, working successfully for many years, internationally such as the Italian system of ‘Protected Designation of Origin (DOP)’, the French system of ‘Comité Champagne’ and the New Zealand geo specific registration of word usage ‘Mānuka’ honey.

Legislation needs to look to these models to understand the value that Culture and Cultural assets bring to the Australian Cultural fabric, our societies, economic benefits, economies - both domestic and international, and the stories we tell about ourselves. It is the right start and the first step.


Real Events:

1.      Aboriginal artist is commissioned to complete an artwork for a corporate client with an agreement that they can use on the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) only. Client without permission reproduced on workwear, stationery, office murals, fleet of vehicles, banners, social media. Artist was unaware, no permissions granted, no payment made at time for reproduction equals exploitation.

2.      A business had the rights for using my art design with the specifics stated in writing, using them on their fleet of cars wasn't one of them.

3.      Dreaming stories have been talked about by traditional owners in my community and local artists continue to paint the dreaming stories without connection to them or permissions to use or paint them.

4.      At a homewares shop I seen products with an Aboriginal design from the Western Desert region which was done by an artist in South Africa. Her inspiration was drawn from her visit to Central Australia and thus re-created someone else design and story as her own. I asked family back home and turns out the particular design and story belonged to a family member and is culturally sacred to certain families.

5.      Artist asked to complete an artwork for major retail stationery company as client wanted to commercialise Aboriginal art through their product ranges. Artist is offered payment as a ‘stationery pack’ and good for their career.

6.      Artist asked to create artwork for an international hair product brand. Artist offered payment as a ‘hair spa experience’ and great exposure.

These are some very small examples of the 1000’s of events, which now become daily occurrences of Cultural theft through commercialisation, contracts and negotiations. This exploitation and modern-day slavery need to change!


How you can help: Signing the petition is your call to action.

If you are a community member, artists, ally, international First Nations please assist by signing the petition and sharing, calling on the Australian government to act now, act outside of ‘Treaty’ or ‘Voice to Parliament’ and show the courageous steps of making the legal changes and legislation needed to protect Cultural rights, communities and Culture. If not, we are witnessing the destabilisation of Indigenous Cultural heritage.

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Signatures: 334Next goal: 500
Support now