Sensitivity Warning

First Peoples

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this resource may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.


This protocol guide spells out clearly the legal, ethical and moral considerations for the use of Indigenous cultural material in arts and cultural projects. This protocol guide recognises that in Indigenous Australian communities, the artist is a custodian of culture with obligations as well as privileges.

Key Findings/Recommendations:

  • Australian policy and law should be used to recognise and protect ICIP rights. For example, copyright laws, protocols and contracts can be used to help ensure ICIP recognition and protection.
  • ‘Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property’ or ‘ICIP’ refers to all aspects of Indigenous peoples’ cultural heritage, including the tangible and intangible. Including traditional knowledge, cultural expression, performances, cultural objects, human remains and tissues, secret and sacred material and information, and documentation of Indigenous peoples’ heritage in all forms of media.
  • Indigenous peoples have the right to: own and control ICIP, and control the recording of cultural customs and expressions, the particular language which may be intrinsic to cultural identity, knowledge, skill and teaching of culture.
  • Indigenous cultures should be represented through Indigenous cultural values with respect to customary laws. Indigenous peoples and their cultures need to be represented in a manner preferred by those cultures. Inappropriate or outdated perspectives and terminology should be avoided. It is important to consult the relevant groups about this.
  • Having an Indigenous advisory group or committee is a way to amplify Indigenous voices in a project. Indigenous advisory groups can be established to provide independent advice on cultural protocols, the use of cultural material and Indigenous content in projects. Advisory groups can be made up of experts in the arts sectors relevant to the project. It can also be a way to involve Indigenous decision-making bodies and cultural groups in the decision-making process.


Publication Details
License type:
All Rights Reserved
Access Rights Type:
3rd Edition