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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement policy

Part 1: Preliminary

1a. Authority

1. This policy is made by the Director pursuant to sections 12, 13 and 8(i) and (j) of the Act.

2. This policy has been developed in collaboration with representatives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities with expertise in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and culture.

1b. Commencement

3. This policy comes into effect on 23 June 2015.

1c. Interpretation

4. The Director is responsible for the interpretation of this policy.

1d. Dictionary

5. In this policy:

  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander means a person who:
    a. is of Australian Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent;
    b. identifies as an Australian Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person; and
    c. is accepted as an Australian Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person by their community.
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander art means artwork:
    a. by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander artist; or
    b. containing Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander themes or content.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Department means the section of the Gallery with responsibility for the collection, exhibition and programs related to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander art. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Department sits within the overarching Australian Art Department.
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander themes or content includes any representations of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people, culture, imagery or issues.
  • Acquisition means the process of obtaining valid title to an artwork, in accordance with the Art Acquisitions Policy.
  • Act means the Art Gallery of New South Wales Act 1980.
  • Community is a group of people with a shared heritage, culture, language or geographical location.
  • Culturally respectful is defined by the relevant Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community.
  • Curator means the person responsible for the conceptual development and research of the collection and exhibitions, including identifying and sourcing loans for exhibition.
  • Curatorium means the group of selected people convened to assist and advise the curator in the development and realisation of a temporary exhibition.
  • Director means the Director of the Gallery appointed under the Act and includes a person appointed as acting Director.
  • Exhibition Executive means the management committee established to approve temporary, collection and touring exhibitions and is defined in accordance with the Exhibitions Development Policy.
  • Exhibition parameters includes the objects in the exhibition and their display; whether there is a catalogue and other published material; sponsorship; marketing materials; web materials; public programs; and other products, for example, films.
  • Gallery means the Art Gallery of New South Wales Trust, a statutory corporation established in accordance with the Act.
  • Loan in relation to an artwork has the same meaning as in the Incoming Loans Policy.
  • Local community means the group of people residing where an exhibition takes place.
  • Registrar means the Gallery staff member responsible for negotiating loan contracts, assessing the legal and physical risks relating to loans, and documenting loans.
  • Representative means the person nominated by a particular group of people to act on their behalf.
  • Trustee means a member of the Board of Trustees appointed in accordance with the Act.

1e. Context

6. Related Gallery policies

  • Art Acquisitions Policy
  • Conflict of Interest Policy
  • Copyright and Image Reproduction Policy
  • Exhibitions Development Policy
  • Financial Code of Practice
  • Fraud Control Policy
  • Code of Conduct
  • Gifts and Benefits Policy
  • Incoming Loans Policy
  • Outgoing Loans Policy
  • Record Keeping Policy

7. Guidelines, procedures and associated documents

National and international guidelines, procedures and associated documents

8. Legislation

Commonwealth
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984
  • Copyright Act 1968
  • Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Act 2013
  • Protection of Cultural Objects on Loan Regulation 2014
  • Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986
  • Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Regulation 1987
New South Wales
  • Art Gallery of New South Wales Act 1980
  • Freedom of Information Act 1989
  • Government Information Public Access Act 2009
  • Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998
  • State Records Act 1998

Part 2: Policy objectives and principles

2a. Preamble

8. The Gallery acknowledges that the Gadigal people of the Eora nation are the traditional custodians of the land on which the Gallery is located.

9. Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art is the oldest ongoing tradition of art in the world, dating back between 20,000 and 30,000 years. Arts and cultural expression continue to be a crucial element of the social, cultural and economic fabric of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities throughout Australia.

10. The visual arts are central to identity, place and belonging. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art embraces global social, cultural and economic changes and is influenced by the wider arts and cultural environment across Australia and internationally. This work is unique because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have historically come from a different heritage and culture.

11. As the State’s premier visual arts collecting institution, the Gallery has a crucial role in the collection, exhibition and interpretation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. Representing Aboriginal artists from across Australia, the Gallery’s collection celebrates Indigenous Australia’s enduring cultural heritage and its myriad of contemporary expressions.

12. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have the right to self-determination in their cultural affairs and expression of cultural material (Australia Council’s Protocols for Producing Indigenous Australian Visual Arts). Historically, this right has not always been upheld in Australia. The Gallery will ensure a sense of ownership occurs through appropriate consultation with relevant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, communities, agencies and organisations.

13. Ensuring an appropriate Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander voice in all aspects of the Gallery’s dealings with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art is central to this policy, which is informed by the principles outlined in the Australia Council’s Protocols for Producing Indigenous Australian Visual Arts and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

14. The Gallery aspires to bring the best Indigenous art to the people of NSW. There is also international interest in the Gallery’s collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. In dealing with loans, the Gallery will take a strong leadership role in encouraging and promoting ethical conduct based on good faith and mutual respect, recognising the diversity of customs and laws pertaining to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.

2b. Objectives

15. This policy sets out the principles the Gallery will apply in engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and communities.

16. The objective of this policy is to ensure the Gallery applies best practice in engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in all its activities, particularly activities concerning:
a. Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander art; and
b. art with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander themes or content.

2c. Principles for engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

17. In engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples the Gallery will have regard to the following principles:

a. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have the right to self-determination in their cultural affairs and expression of cultural material;

b. cultural material includes works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, as well as works with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander themes and content;

c. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should have ready access to the Gallery’s collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art;

d. the purchase of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander art by the Gallery does not diminish the artist or relevant community’s cultural interest in the work;

e. the Gallery recognises that as ‘living cultures’ the norms and views of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities may change over time;

f. Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples will be consulted in the development and implementation of all exhibitions and programs of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander art;

g. consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will be in the form that is most effective for the people concerned, including:
i. where necessary, the first language of the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people will be used;
ii. where consultation involves a group, the majority of participants will be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander;
iii. where requested, utilisation of representatives of the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people chosen in accordance with the community’s own procedures

h. consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will be led by a curator from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Department who is Aboriginal or a Torres Strait Islander;

i. sufficient time will be allowed in the consultation process to enable culturally respectful consultation and follow up to be conducted;

j. to the greatest extent practicable, the Gallery will give effect to the views of Aboriginal artists as to how they wish to be represented in exhibitions, programs and related activities;

k. to the greatest extent practicable, the Gallery will give effect to the views of relevant communities and where there are differences of views, the Gallery will seek to achieve a consensus;

l. there will be fair payment for engagement and consultation rendered in the implementation of these procedures;

m. the participation of representatives will be recognised and acknowledged and ongoing dialogue and engagement fostered wherever possible.

Part 3: Transparency and accountability strategies

3a. Complaints

18. A complaint may be made to the Director regarding non-compliance with this policy.

19. The Director will ensure all complaints are investigated and that appropriate action is taken in response.

20. The Director will advise the complainant of the outcome of the complaint.

3b. Internal audit

21. The Director will ensure that compliance with these procedures is assessed as part of the Gallery’s audit program.

3c. Staff obligations

22. Gallery staff involved in engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are bound by the Gallery’s Code of Conduct and other relevant Gallery policies, especially but not limited to the Conflict of Interest Policy, Financial Code of Practice, Gifts and Benefits Policy, Copyright and Image Reproduction Policy, Fraud Control Policy and Record Keeping Policy.

3d. Record keeping

23. Appropriate records of consultations and decision making will be maintained in accordance with established Record Keeping Policy and Procedures, in particular in the areas of exhibitions, loans, acquisitions and public programs.

24. Files must include evidence of the consultation and decision-making processes and outcomes including:

a. representatives consulted;

b. methods of consultation, including strategies to facilitate genuine and meaningful exchange;

c. the representative’s decisions or wishes on the matter;

d. the outcome or decision made by the Gallery on the matter; and

e. any additional outcomes for the community arising from the consultation and engagement and evidence that these have been acted upon.