Australian Indigenous Design Charter

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  • 2018

  • Social Impact

Designed By:

  • Dr Russell Kennedy & Dr Meghan Kelly
    Professor Brian Martin (Muruwari, Bundjalung, Kamilaroi)
    Jefa Greenaway (Wailwan, Kamilaroi)
    Deakin University School of Communication and Creative Arts (SCCA)
    Deakin University Institute of Koorie Education (IKE)
    Indigenous Architecture and Design Victoria (IADV)
    Design Institute of Australia (DIA)
    International Council of Design (ico-D)

Commissioned By:

Deakin University School of Communication and Creative Arts (SCCA) - Dr Russell Kennedy & Dr Meghan Kelly

Deakin University Institute of Koorie Education (IKE)

Indigenous Architecture and Design Victoria (IADV) - Jefa Greenaway (Wailwan, Kamilaroi)

Design Institute of Australia (DIA)

International Council of Design Associations (ico-D)

Designed In:

Australia

Australian Indigenous Design Charter has been created to address the issues of appropriation and respectful representation of Indigenous (Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander) culture in design practice and education. This document offers a best practice protocols for designers (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) working with Indigenous knowledge through respectful, Indigenous led, collaborative processes.


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  • Australian design history is littered with inappropriate examples of Indigenous representation. The Australian Indigenous Design Charter addresses the need to navigate the 'wicked problem' of respectful Indigenous led cultural understanding and recognising its complexity. It is a powerful tool for reconciliation and places Indigenous knowledge at the centre of culturally related design practice. This document meets the challenge of inappropriate representation by demonstrating how to engage with respectful exchange through open thinking, deep listening, and a genuine commitment to learning.

  • The Charter outlines 10 steps for non-Indigenous, Indigenous designers and buyers of design to follow when representing indigenous culture in design practice. These are as follows: 1) Indigenous led. 2) Self-determined. 3) Community specific. 4) Deep listening. 5) Impact of design. 6) Indigenous knowledge. 7) Shared knowledge (collaboration, co-creation, procurement). 8) Legal and moral. 9) Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). 10) Charter implementation. The Charter is an open document that will reviewed regularly in consultation with stakeholders and be updated when required.

  • The Australian Indigenous Design Charter has been embraced by both the design industry, professional and educational providers. Awareness has been created through industry support (DIA & IADV) and the Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools (ACUADS). These include: Monash, Melbourne, RMIT , Schivello, Lattitude and Kardinia Park Stadium Trust. The Charter has been expanded to create the International Indigenous Design Charter which widens the best practice discussion to include all Indigenous design stakeholders around the world. Both Charters were presented at the World Design Summit in Montreal, November 2017 and subsequently adopted by the ico-D as a best practice document.

  • The Charter was developed through an extensive consultation process spanning Australian and the globe. This rigorous research approach has produced ground breaking outcomes applicable to all design disciplines and all Indigenous groups. Dr Gene Bawden, Deputy Head, Department of Design, Monash University, Art Design & Architecture states: The Design Department at Monash University is committed to the promotion and enactment of culturally inclusive practices in all our curriculum. It is of paramount importance that our graduates leave the university fully alert to the frameworks that define respect, inclusion, diversity and cultural sensitivity. The Australian Indigenous Design Charter provides an invaluable resource for our students and teaching staff towards this end. The Charter reinforces the United Nations in their Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which describes the right of Indigenous peoples to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional expressions of their cultures, including design (UNDRIP, 2006). In addition, the authors of the document were invited by the Commonwealth Government to present the Charter to the Indigenous Affairs Committee: Inquiry into the proliferation of inauthentic Indigenous 'style' art - Public Hearing 8 March 2018. To support this application, we recommend viewing the following: http://www.ico-d.org/2017/06/09/international-indigenous-design-charter-aidc-cd.php http://www.ico-d.org/connect/events/events/849.php http://www.ico-d.org/2016/11/23/indigo-revived-new-agreement-between-deakin-university-and-ico-d-signed.php