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Indigenous Australian Art Commercial Code of Conduct

Cultural ministers support strengthening fair and ethical trade in indigenous art

An initiative aimed at strengthening fair and ethical trade in the Indigenous visual art sector has received support from the Australian and New Zealand cultural ministers.

At the Cultural Ministers Council meeting in Adelaide, ministers endorsed a voluntary Indigenous Australian Arts Commercial Code of Conduct for industry and also approved a complementary Charter of Principles for publicly funded collecting institutions.

The aim is to promote good business practice, including transparency in transactions between artists and the marketplace and to allow public sector collecting institutions to affirm their commitment to ethical collecting principles and promote these best practice standards across the entire Indigenous art collection sector, respectively.

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To download the Indigenous Australian Art Commercial Code of Conduct, please visit:

Background to the Indigenous Australian Art Commercial Code of Conduct

In June 2007, the Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts released a report entitled 'Indigneous Art - Securing the Future'. This Senate Inquiry was undertaken in response to reports of unscrupulous conduct in the Indigenous visual arts industry, in particular reports of unfair treatment of Indigenous artists.

The report's 29 recommendations were broad ranging, reflecting the sector's diversity and complexity. Central to those recommendations was the call for an industry Code of Conduct to address unethical behavoiur. One of the key recommendations of this report was the introduction of an Indigenous Australian Art Commercial Code of Conduct to be developed for a two year, self regulatory period. If problems remain after this period, the report recommended a mandatory Code be introduced. The Australian Government response, tabled on 8 August 2008, agreed to recommendations in relation to the introduction of a Code and called on Industry to complete the Code.

This Code has been developed taking into accont the Senate Inquiry's recommendations and the Australian Government response to that report. After two years of operation, this Code will be reviewed to determine whether it is an effective tool in addressing unscrupulous and unethical behaviour in the Indigenous visual arts industry.