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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.


Culture is revived through keeping Indigenous knowledge alive and strengthening connections to land. Speaking language, sharing stories and teaching younger generations about country are all practices that promote cultural security which, in turn, strengthens knowledge.

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) has initiated the Preserve, Strengthen and Renew in Community (PSR) project in order to address the significant under-recognition and under-protection of intangible expressions of Indigenous culture and heritage.

Key recommendations and findings:

  • The protection of Indigenous culture, however, tends to be isolated or narrowly linked to commensurate rights within existing policy and intellectual frameworks. These frameworks, built from impoverished thinking, still dominate and policy makers are only beginning to contemplate the significance of culture/s in their work or field.
  • The relationship between communities and archives is a mandatory component of ethical collection management practices. It ensures that principles of community empowerment and ownership are employed while also protecting collections and staff members by making certain that the appropriate cultural protocols are applied to dangerous or otherwise potentially harmful material.
  • In Australia, archives and collecting institutions are usually located in cities, which can make physical access difficult or impossible for many. This lack of physical proximity raises questions of whether communities even know particular collecting institutions exist, let alone that those collecting institutions may hold materials relevant to their community. Online catalogues make collections searchable without the need to travel to the archive, but only where people have easy access to computers and the internet.
  • A further aspect of managing Indigenous knowledge and information is the practicality of data storage and the need to preserve material like tapes, digital files, photographs, and reports. There is a need to balance the advantages of cloud-based storage, cultural security and preventing data loss. 
  • Research practices need to incorporate the following: ensuring that processes empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander decision-making; recognising that one community or family cannot speak for another understanding and respecting the pressure of community and family obligations.
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