26 September 2023

Commission supports Aboriginal artworks

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The Productivity Commission has proposed new protections for visual arts and crafts created by Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

In a draft report released last week, the Commission reported that two in three Indigenous-style souvenirs on sale were inauthentic with no connection whatever to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Its draft report calls for mandatory labelling of inauthentic products

According to Productivity Commissioner Romlie Mokak, inauthentic products can mislead consumers, deprive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists of income and disrespect cultures.

“Mandatory labelling would steer consumers toward authentic products and put the compliance burden on those producing fake products, not Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists,” Mr Mokak said.

“On balance, we consider it is a more practical response than trying to ban inauthentic products,” he said.

He said the Commission found that annual sales of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visual arts and crafts, including souvenirs, were about $250 million,” the Commissioner said.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visual arts and crafts support thousands of jobs — many in remote communities — and are a major drawcard for tourists.”

But he said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities face longstanding challenges in protecting their cultures from being misappropriated in visual arts and crafts.

Mr Mokak said the Commission also recommends strengthening the supports available to artists through the Indigenous Art Code, and reviewing the adequacy and effectiveness of Government funding, to ensure it aligns with community priorities and supports capacity for future growth.

The Productivity’s Commission’s 3draft report is available for comment or submission and can be accessed on the PC website at this PS News link.

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