Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Protocols

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) cultures are diverse and complex and while South Australia is the traditional country of many Aboriginal groups, there are many differences in language and tradition among them. Click here for information on language groups across Australia.

Arts SA endeavours to work with artists and organisations to ensure respect and acknowledgement for ATSI people and cultures at every stage of a project's development. It is recommended that you seek our direction in the early stages of project development and that every effort is made to ensure there is no misrepresentation or appropriation of ATSI cultures.

There is no 'one stop' place or organisation for approval and advice on all Aboriginal arts and cultural matters. Each group in South Australia has its own traditions, artistic style and practices. Arts SA can offer guidance, contacts and support in  these matters.

Communication, consultation and consent are very important and can promote positive cultural awareness among the non-ATSI community. The following are examples of respectful practices towards ATSI cultures, cultural material and information:

  • acknowledge a traditional Aboriginal group in a region when making a public address in that area
  • seek advice and consent from traditional land owners before considering a major event or performance or a 'welcome to country' ceremony
  • seek advice from the traditional owners of an area when designing a permanent public artwork or installation. It would be positive and respectful to acknowledge traditional owners of an area on a plaque near the artwork
  • get permission from the traditional owners before photographing or filming a significant site or landscape
  • consultation is recommended when an activity involves representation of deceased people
  • seek written approval before using, referencing or  appropriating sacred and ceremonial objects by artists for the sake of art.
  • avoid derogatory language and outdated terms and ideas about Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people and culture
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists should seek endorsement from their own elders.

The Australia Council for the Arts has produced a comprehensive framework for respecting ATSI arts and culture. These principles and protocols include information on:

  • respect
  • communication, consultation and consent
  • copyright and attribution
  • returns and royalties
  • recognition and protection
  • representation of deceased people.

Download copies of Arts South Australia's Aboriginal Arts Strategy terms of reference, meeting minutes and stakeholder notes:

DOWNLOAD: Aboriginal Arts Strategy - Terms of Reference

DOWNLOAD: Aboriginal Arts Strategy - Minutes (11.5.17)

DOWNLOAD: Aboriginal Arts Strategy - Stakeholder Notes