The National Archives of Australia announces new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander protocols to guide its way forward on Indigenous community engagement and records management. Our Way: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Protocols will deepen the National Archives’ relationship with communities around Australia to ensure it continues to meet their needs.
In his National Press Club Address last week, Director-General David Fricker remarked on National Archives’ long-running connections with Australia’s First Nations people and the culturally appropriate management and provision of records relating to them. He noted National Archives’ earlier commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the International Council on Archives Tandanya – Adelaide Declaration of 2019.
The declaration called for archives of the world 'to re-imagine the meaning of archives as an engaging model of social memory; to embrace the Indigenous worldviews and methods of creating, sharing and preserving valued knowledge'. Our Way doubles down on this commitment with clear actions set out under five overarching thematic protocols:
Leadership: Leadership at all levels ensures that services and activities are culturally appropriate.
Rights: Recognise that records may contain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander traditional and cultural knowledge.
Access: Engage in two-way relationships – National Archives to individuals and communities and communities; and individuals and communities to the National Archives.
Authority: Ensure related collections are handled, stored, preserved and accessed in a culturally respectful and appropriate manner.
Acknowledgement: Express recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first peoples of Australia.
Phyllis Williams, the Director of the newly formed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement section says the section 'will build on past and continuing work through demonstrating the five key protocols across the National Archives through dialogue and practice, engaging in two-way relationships, ensuring collections are handled in a culturally and respectful manner'.
Over the next five years, National Archives will embed these protocols into its fabric, its culture and operations – to build a culturally robust organisation fostering trust and collaboration between the National Archives and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations. It will continue the National Archives’ commitment 'towards recognition and confirmation of the place and rights of Indigenous peoples in the world and archives'.
Our Way: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Protocols will be available on the National Archives' website from Wednesday 11 August 2021
National Archives of Australia Media Team
Phone: 0417 247 157