Submission

Fake art harms culture

Committee Inquiry – Competition and consumer amendment (prevention of exploitation of Indigenous cultural expressions) Bill 2019

15 Aug 2019
Description

There is a significant and growing market in Australia for art and craft products which have the ‘look and feel’ of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art but have no connection to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. These goods are produced commercially and mostly aimed at the tourist market, often being made from non-traditional materials and featuring inauthentic and culturally inappropriate designs. The issue of inauthentic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art was considered by the Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs in 2017-18, which concluded that such misappropriation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures is unacceptable.

Key Findings:

  • The submission estimates that up to 80% of items being sold as legitimate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artworks and souvenirs in tourist shops and some galleries around Australia are inauthentic.
  • The trade in inauthentic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art misappropriates and exploits Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture;  denies Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists economic and other opportunities; misleads and deceives consumers regarding the authenticity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art products they purchase; and disadvantages Australian businesses who take an ethical and culturally empathetic approach to their work.
  • Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs in 2017-18 noted that current laws are insufficient to address the problem and explored several possible solutions, concluding that standalone legislation may be the best long-term option to resolve this complex issue.
  • The Committee recommends that the Australian Government begin a consultation process to develop standalone legislation protecting Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property, including traditional knowledge and cultural expressions.

This submission supports the standing committee on Indigenous affairs' recommendation of standalone legislation as a long-term solution, and have advocated for standalone legislation for some time. However, given the damage caused by inauthentic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and craft product is both current and widespread, it is imperative to expedite legislative action within an existing legislative framework, while standalone legislation is developed as a long-term solution. This would be best achieved through amendments to the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) that prohibit the supply of inauthentic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and craft product.

Publication Details
Language: 
English
Published year only: 
2019
8
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