Summary of Outcomes

Koorie people involved in this research have told us that they want to:

  • preserve and use all forms of Koorie knowledge,
  • challenge and limit the ongoing potency which archives carry in the lives of many Koorie people,
  • recover from archives knowledge which is relevant to understanding their identities, cultures and experiences.

This report identifies seven research outcomes which support the above aspirations. We have called the first two of these foundations, as they are a platform for much of what follows and highlight the need for a transformation of Australian society’s evidence and memory frameworks. The next three outcomes apply these foundational principles to three challenges which emerged from the research as key archival needs of Koorie communities. The final two outcomes reflect on this project as an encounter between Indigenous and Western knowledge systems and consider the implications for communities, researchers and educators.

The following pages summarise these seven outcomes and identify the directions and actions which Koorie communities, the archives sector and other parties should pursue towards implementation.

Outcome 1: Koorie knowledge
All sources of Koorie knowledge - stories shared within families, audio-recorded histories, government and other organisational records - are highly valued by Koorie people wanting to understand their identity and history. We need to take on board a conceptualisation of Koorie knowledge which:

  • overcomes the preferencing of Western expressions of memory and evidence over Koorie ones.
  • recognises and supports the interplay between difference sources of Koorie knowledge, in particular that knowledge can be recovered from archival sources and reincorporated into oral memory.

Outcome 2: Koorie rights
Koorie people are currently afforded few rights over that part of their knowledge which is in archival institutions. If we accept that archives contain Koorie knowledge, we need to find ways to give effect to Koorie rights over this knowledge. In doing so we should recognise the particular claims of Koorie people which arise from the part archival records have played in their dispossession and in the recovery of identity.

Outcome 3: New approaches to rights and responsibilities in Koorie knowledge
The current Australian legal framework presents a number of obstacles to the realisation of Koorie rights in archival records, as proposed in outcome 2. We consider how the archives community could use a participant model to realign its principles and practices to give effect to Koorie rights in archival records. Alongside these policy initiatives there are also a number of legal strategies which could be pursued to give Koorie people greater rights over their knowledge.

Outcome 4: A holistic, community-based approach to Koorie archives
Koorie knowledge cannot be made to adhere to the usual institutional/sectoral boundaries of archival programs. Holistic, community-based approaches would bring together, physically or virtually, all archives of a community, regardless of their source or form, and would model community perspectives on the interconnectedness of Western and Indigenous knowledge traditions.

Outcome 5: Setting the Record Straight
Koorie people express a strong desire to challenge the contents of ‘official’ records by recording their own narratives and perspectives alongside them. International human rights principles and the experiences of other post-colonial, post-surveillance societies support this notion as an important means of acknowledging and limiting the ongoing potency of records which have been the tools and products of dispossession and control. A system for setting the record straight - a Koorie Annotation System - is proposed.

Outcome 6: Researching together: rethinking the relationship between academia and Koorie communities
University-based researchers need to overhaul research methods which position Indigenous (and other) communities as the subjects of research, and to pursue a participatory model of community-based research. This outcome presents lessons learned from this project about the colonisation of Koorie knowledge and the entanglement of knowledge systems. The principles of community-based participatory action research require promotion among consumers of research.

Outcome 7: Education and Training for Professional Practice and Scholarship
Recordkeeping educators along with leading employers and professional associations, need to incorporate the new directions proposed in this report into foundational professional education and ongoing professional development.