Protecting traditional knowledge and cultural expressions through arts and crafts

For too long, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and businesses have been disadvantaged by the sale of inauthentic arts and crafts, which leads to cultural and economic harm.

The Albanese Government is committed to fixing this and has today welcomed the Productivity Commission’s final report on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visual arts and crafts.

The final report provides a series of recommendations that will be carefully considered by the Government, as part of its commitment to working with First Nations people to establish stand-alone legislation to protect traditional knowledge and cultural expressions.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, said inauthentic arts and crafts prevent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and businesses from receiving fair returns for their unique work and talent.

“Arts and crafts are central to expressing culture, sharing traditional stories, connecting to Country, and provide valuable employment and economic opportunities for First Nations peoples,” Minister Burney said.

“This Productivity Commission report states that about 60 per cent of international visitors make purchases of fake art with an even higher percentage of inauthentic ‘Indigenous-style designs’ available on the digital image market.

“This needs to change and we will carefully review the recommendations from the final report as part of our commitment to advancing an ethical marketplace that empowers First Nations artists to protect their cultural assets.

“Strengthening the capacity of the sector, and minimising the prevalence of unauthorised products are all steps required to better support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and businesses to continue creating arts and crafts products, and be fairly remunerated.”

Minister for the Arts, Tony Burke, said the report’s recommendations will build on the Government’s groundwork in strengthening authentic and ethically produced First Nations arts and crafts, through its landmark National Cultural Policy.

“For too long, fake ‘Indigenous-style’ merchandise has undercut legitimate artists, misled consumers and caused a number of cultural harms – this has to stop,” Minister Burke said.

“We’re committed to cracking down on this deliberate cultural theft – and the recommendations from this report will help inform that.”

Fake paintings and boomerangs, clapping sticks and digeridoos, t-shirts and ties – these misleading products are typically mass produced in places like China and Indonesia with no Indigenous involvement.

Further details on the Government’s intention to deliver better long-term outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and businesses will be released as part of the National Cultural Policy.

To read the Productivity Commission’s final report and for more information, visit: