Beyond Guarding Ground

A vision for a National Indigenous Cultural Authority

Is there a place for a National Indigenous Cultural Authority to assist Indigenous people assert their rights to their traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expression and Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property?


For over 20 years Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have called for new laws to protect their cultural heritage, the songs, stories, dances, cultural knowledge handed down through the generations. There has been no new laws which recognise the collective ownership of cultural knowledge and traditional cultural expression.


The main rights Indigenous people want are:

  • the  right of prior informed consent

  • the right to protect against derogatory treatment

  • the right of attribution

  • and the right to share in the benefits of the appropriate use of their cultural material.


It is time for Indigenous people to take the lead and set up their own infrastructure using existing intellectual property tools, contracts, trade marks and protocols. A national collective organisation that empowers Aboriginal knowledge holders, communities and local and regional networks could set up a strong infrastructure.

© 2020 Terri Janke and Company

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All professional photography is by Jamie James at James Photographic Services.

The painting  'Ancient Tracks and Waterholes' (2019) by Rene Kulitja has been used under license in the firm photographs on the TJC website homepage, staff profiles, careers and services pages. See Maruku Arts for more work by Rene Kulitja.

The visual artwork ‘Freshwater Lagoon 1’ by Lisa Michl Ko-manggen has been used under license in some photographs and videos. See Cape York Art for more work by Ko-manggen.

The painting ‘My Country’ by Bibi Barba has been used under license in some photographs and Law Way videos. Visit her website to see more.

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