Protecting Indigenous culture and heritage for future generations

Media Release
  • Minister for Education and Training

The Turnbull Government yesterday passed legislation to set up the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) for the future so it can continue to collect, preserve and promote Australia’s Indigenous culture and heritage.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the Bill will help AIATSIS better focus on the management, preservation and expansion of its internationally significant collection by removing outdated governance processes by:

  • reforming the appointments process for its governing council and repealing outdated admin requirements
  • refining how resources are targeted so the collection is the key focus
  • reflecting more culturally-appropriate terminology in the collection to bring AIATSIS in line with contemporary language and values.

AIATSIS holds more than a million items of historical and cultural significance which is why it’s important the organisation is set up for the future,” Minister Birmingham said.

“Maintaining a collection of this size and significance is a great challenge, and this legislation will mean AIATSIS can exercise its national leadership role in research, ethics and the use of the collection.

“These reforms support the additional $8.3 million the Coalition has invested since 2014 to preserve AIATSIS’ unique cultural materials.”

AIATSIS has used this additional resourcing to better protect its current collection, and to increase its capacity to recover and preserve privately held materials at risk of being lost.

“I would like to thank the Chair of the AIATSIS Council, Professor Mick Dodson, the Chief Executive Officer, Mr Russell Taylor, and all AIATSIS Council members for the support and leadership they’ve shown in pursuing this important reform,” Minister Birmingham said.

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