Rethinking Archival and Legal Frameworks for Records of Indigenous Australian Communities of Memory: a participatory model of rights and responsibilities

Recipients: Professor Eric Ketelaar and Dr Livia Iacovino.

Project summary

The Australian Research Council Linkage project, "Trust and Technology: Building Archival Systems for Indigenous Oral Memory", identified a number of legal and archival obstacles to Australian Indigenous rights in records, in particular limitations on ownership rights for people who are considered to be the subject of records. The Project highlighted areas for further exploration within a participant relationship model which repositions Indigenous communities and individuals as record co-creators. The Jean Whyte project examined how Indigenous claims to ownership over archival sources of Indigenous knowledge could be characterised in the legal concept of a bundle of rights that recognises more than one interest to control, disclose, access and use records; identified legal and archival concepts that supported a participatory model of co-creatorship and associated responsibilities in relation to ownership, access and privacy; recommended archival and legal reform required to implement the model; located human rights principles in international and national human rights instruments that support the assertion of Indigenous rights in records; and proposed a range of archival, policy and legal strategies that could be adopted to further collective and individual Indigenous rights in records.

Preliminary findings were presented at the Centre for Organisational and Social Informatics Research Forum: Human Rights and Indigenous Archives, 7 August 2009.

A major outcome of the Project is the Exposure Draft Position Statement: Human Rights, Indigenous Communities in Australia and the Archives October 2009

A further outcome is an International interdisciplinary workshop on Archives and Indigenous human rights, 12 October 2010, sponsored by Centre for Organisational and Social Informatics, Casten Centre for Human Rights Law, and Centre for Australian Indigenous Studies Monash University and the National Archives of Australia.

Related workshop publications are:

  • McKemmish, S., Iacovino, L., Ketelaar, E., Castan, M., Russell, L., 2011, Resetting relationships: archives and Indigenous human rights in Australia, Archives & Manuscripts, vol 39, issue 1, pp. 107-144.
  • McKemmish, S., Iacovino, L., Russell, L., Castan, M., 2012, Editors’ Introduction to Keeping cultures alive: Archives and Indigenous human rights, Archival Science, vol. 12 issue 2. pp. 93–111.

Major research findings published in:

  • Iacovino, L., 2010, Rethinking archival, ethical and legal frameworks for records of Indigenous Australian communities: A participant relationship model of rights and responsibilities, Archival Science, vol 10, issue 4, pp. 353-372 and;
  • Iacovino L., 2012, Silent witnesses: Implementation of international human rights as warrants for archival agenda for Indigenous Australians, in Archives without Borders, Archivos sin Fronteras, Proceedings of the International Congress in the Hague, August 30-31, 2010, eds H van Engen, G. Janssens, G. Kwanten, K.M. Pompe, Belgium association for archivists and Dutch association for archivists, The Hague, Netherlands, pp.197-221.