First Nations Cultural and Intellectual Property in the Arts

Protocols For Using First Nations Cultural And Intellectual Property In The Arts

“While works by individual artists are protected by copyright, Australia does not yet have a law that prevents alteration, distortion or misuse of traditional symbols, songs, dances, performances and story that may be part of the heritage of particular Indigenous language groups. This is where the Australia Council for the Arts’ Protocols for using First Nations Intellectual and Cultural Property in the Arts comes in. The protocols provide a pathway for collaborations and creation of new Indigenous work.”
Dr Terri Janke



First published in 2002 and revised in 2007, this protocol guide endorses the rights of Indigenous people to their cultural heritage and supports Indigenous creative practice. This protocol guide encourages self-determination and helps build a strong and diverse Indigenous arts sector. These are key goals and priority areas of the Australia Council for the Arts.

Creative practitioners who work with Indigenous artists or engage with Indigenous cultural heritage in projects, and are funded by Australia Council for the Arts grant assessment panels are required to comply with this protocol guide as a condition of funding.

Over the years, the principles and protocols contained in this protocol guide have also been applied nationally and internationally – educating readers and users on Indigenous Australian cultural heritage, and encouraging meaningful collaborations with Indigenous artists and creators.


First Nations Arts Awards 2021

Date: 27 May 2021

Time: 7:30pm AEST

The First Nations Arts Awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding work and achievements of First Nations artists. This year we will be broadcasting on NITV and streaming online. Presented on the evening will be:

  • the prestigious Red Ochre Awards for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement
  • the Dreaming Award for recognition of an emerging artist
  • the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Fellowship to support the creation of a major work by an artist
  • acknowledge awards given to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Artists across Australia Council Programs including the First Nations Emerging Career Development Award. 

Survey for First Nations Music Artists

How do First Nations musicians feel about the music industry? What is working? What could be improved on in the music business in relation to their cultural practice and community responsibilities?

First Nations music plays a vital role in Australia’s music identity. At this critical time, it is essential that  the voices of First Nation musicians – custodians of the oldest musical practice in the world – are at the centre of dialogue and decision-making to ensure opportunities for the sector continue to grow and thrive, so the next generation can participate in a cultural future.

The results of the Survey of First Nations Music Artists provide much needed insights into the strengths, challenges and needs of the sector. The responses gathered can provide insights to inform the music industry as it recovers, rebuilds and looks to the future – a future in which First Nations talent and artistry is nurtured, celebrated and central in the music industry and Australia’s culture.