Koorie archiving: Trust and technology

Project: Koorie Archiving System (KAS)

Koorie Archiving: Trust and Technology 2004-2010 was a collaboration between Monash researchers in the Faculty of Information Technology and Monash Centre for Australian Indigenous Studies, the Public Record Office of Victoria, the Koorie Heritage Trust Inc., the Victorian Koorie Records Taskforce, and the Australian Society of Archivists Indigenous Issues Special Interest Group in partnership with Koorie communities. It was funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Project Grant and Collaborative Internet Innovation Fund (CIIF) of the Victorian Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development.

In this foundational project, Interviews and focus groups were held with members of Koorie communities across Victoria including members of the Stolen Generation. They wanted to know about and access records relating to them in archival custody, to be involved in decision-making about the ownership, custody and preservation of the records, to be consulted about who can access the records, to add their stories to the record, and to have a suite of rights in records, including collective rights. Many viewed all ‘official’ records that relate to them as their own records, yet many institutions and organisations that house and control these records view them very differently. This project found that policies, processes and systems in Western recordkeeping and archival traditions are based on particular constructs and values relating to control, access and privacy are fundamentally different from, and possibly irreconcilable with, the knowledge paradigms in Indigenous communities.

The Trust and Technology project developed a Statement of Principles relating to Australian Indigenous knowledge and the Archives. It acknowledges Indigenous rights in records, including the right to set the record straight (right of reply), recognition of Indigenous rights in archival sources of Indigenous knowledge in Australian legal and archival frameworks, and adoption of holistic, community-based approaches to Indigenous recordkeeping and archiving. The complementary Position Statement on Human Rights, Indigenous Communities and Australian Archives recommends a suite of rights in records to support the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People 2007 and self-determination for Indigenous Australians, including the Stolen Generation.