An expert from RMIT University is available to comment on Indigenous cultural and intellectual property (ICIP) and how the respectful use of First Nations visual culture is overlooked in favour of dominant western standards and practices.
Dr Nicola St John, Lecturer, Communication and Design (0424 417 529 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
Topics: First Nations, intellectual and cultural property, cultural misappropriation
“Communication design and commercial art has a vital role to play in forming public opinion, and reinforcing our perceptions around Australian identity, representation and value.
“The Australian design industry has often devalued and exploited First Nations visual culture, leading to many examples of misappropriation – or ‘stealing’ knowledge from First Nations people and culture and re-presenting it in the wrong way and in the wrong place.
“Currently there are no licensing or production guidelines to protect Indigenous cultural and intellectual property (ICIP) within design and digital spaces, despite the prominence of visual arts-based guidelines and protocols in Australia.
“ICIP refers to the rights that First Nations people have, and want to have, to protect their traditional arts, heritage and culture, including communally owned cultural practices, traditional knowledge, and resources and knowledge systems developed by First Nations people as part of their First Nations identity.
“Many First Nations cultures held no precedent for taking someone else’s design and using it to enhance the marketability of a product, service, or brand – as we have seen with the proliferation of First Nations cultural motifs being stolen and used on tea towels, t-shirts, rugs, logos – to make a profit for non-Indigenous designers. Aboriginal elder Garwirrin Gumana (Yolngu) explains ‘When that [white] man does that it is like cutting off our skin’.”
Nicola St John is an award-winning researcher and design lecturer. Her research explores cultural perspectives of design and the value of communication design education and enterprise within Aboriginal communities. Her latest research has contributed to the creation of Australia’s only First Nations led agency dedicated to representing First Nations illustrators. Called Solid Lines, the illustration agency marks a major milestone for protecting Indigenous cultural and intellectual property (ICIP) within design and digital spaces.
For interviews: Dr Nicola St John, 0424 417 529 or email@example.com
For general media enquiries: RMIT Communications, 0439 704 077 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Acknowledgement of Country
RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.