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IP Australia Indigenous Knowledge

IP Australia is pleased to publish Indigenous Knowledge: Issues for protection and management, a paper by Indigenous intellectual property (IP) firm Terri Janke and Company. This paper explores the relationship between tradition-based knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and issues of IP, cultural heritage and economic empowerment.

This paper follows consultations IP Australia finalised in 2016 that sought stakeholders’ views on how Indigenous Knowledge could be protected in Australia. That consultation received 12 submissions covering a broad range of issues. The submissions indicated to IP Australia that Indigenous Knowledge reaches beyond IP, and that to consider any reforms in the IP policy space, we needed a more holistic view of the issues as Indigenous stakeholders experience them. Working with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, IP Australia commissioned Terri Janke and Company to develop an independent paper exploring what they viewed as the key issues for the protection and management of Indigenous Knowledge in Australia.

This paper reflects the views and opinions of Terri Janke and Company as experts in the field of Indigenous Knowledge and canvasses a variety of solutions. It does not represent a position of the Australian Government.

IP Australia looks forward to using this paper as a useful reference point for consultations on Indigenous Knowledge issues later in 2018 – consistent with our Reconciliation Action Plan commitments to work with stakeholders on IP issues relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. These consultations will focus on possible initiatives that IP Australia could implement to enhance the protection of Indigenous Knowledge.

The Australian Government is currently involved in work that intersects with a number of areas covered in the paper. The following agencies can be contacted for more information on these:

  Indigenous Languages   Department of Communications and the Arts
  Culture   Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Stakeholders may also be interested in the current inquiry by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs into the growing presence of inauthentic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ‘style’ art, craft and merchandise. Further information on this inquiry is available on the Parliament of Australia website. For more information, read the two supplementary papers.