Can the authenticity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art be regulated?

Event details


Date & time

Tuesday 02 April 2019


Seminar Room 1.04, Coombs Extension Building #8, ANU
ANU Canberra


Jon Altman


School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet)

In August 2017 the Minister for Indigenous Affairs instructed the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs to inquire and report on the growing presence of inauthentic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander style arts and crafts products and merchandise for sale across Australia; and to provide options for its restriction. In December 2018 the Committee’s Report on the impact of inauthentic art and craft in the style of First Nations peoples was completed.

In this seminar as an academic actively engaged in the formation of indigenous arts policy and a commentator on the sector’s working, I ask: is there a problem of misleading and deceptive conduct under Australian consumer law that is particular to the indigenous arts sector and if there is, how might this problem be addressed? I look to critically engage with the Committee’s findings and recommendations and ask ‘Can the authenticity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art be effectively regulated? ‘.

More broadly, I am interested to generate discussion on the role and efficacy of regulation in cultural industries and whether existing regulatory and legal institutions like the ACCC and copyright law are adequate.

About the speaker

Jon Altman has had an abiding interest in Indigenous art policy for nearly 40 years. In 1989 he chaired the federal review of the Aboriginal arts and crafts industry that still provides the foundation for government support for remote art centres; and in 2003 he was commissioned to establish the NT Visual Arts Strategy. He has made several submissions to parliamentary and other reviews of the Indigenous visual arts sector and been involved in curating and assisting with a number of major Aboriginal art exhibitions, most recently the retrospective John Mawurndjul I am the Old and the New currently touring Australia.

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet