Preserve, Strengthen and Renew in Community

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Jimmy Brown recording his story with Thomas Allen, near Kiwirrkurra in April 2017
Jimmy Brown recording his story with Thomas Allen, near Kiwirrkurra in April 2017

AIATSIS has been running a research pilot to return material held in the AIATSIS archive, record new material with community members and to help establish protocols for keeping cultural material safe via the Preserve Strengthen and Renew in Community (PSR) project. This project aims to ensure that Indigenous communities are able to access relevant cultural material held in collections and to determine their own processes for knowledge production, documentation, and preservation.

The pilot involved three case studies and has been carried out in collaboration with Indigenous Desert Alliance (Central Desert Native Title Services and the Kimberley Land Council) and Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre. The three project partners have varying objectives in terms of the production and management of materials. The Kiwirrkurra traditional owners are focused on initial discussions of processes for repatriation and information recording for future generations, Wangka Maya is looking at the management of material that exists as part of the AIATSIS archive, and Karajarri cultural advisors and rangers are seeking to develop cultural knowledge through the repatriation of archived material and the recording of new material, but are also looking at how information should be stored and the best way to achieve this.

The project has involved access visits to AIATSIS where project partners identified material that they would like to be returned and AIATSIS researchers have undertaken community visits to Kiwirrkurra, and Bidyadanga (with Karajarri Traditional Lands Association) to both record new materials and discuss protocols for listening to and accessing those materials. A workshop was also conducted at Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre to discuss the rights which Wangka Maya has over their materials in the AIATSIS collection and to determine how AIATSIS and Wangka Maya can best provide access to those materials in a culturally informed and safe manner.

The pilot project culminated in a two-day workshop bringing project partners together with practitioners interested in the management of cultural material. The workshop aimed to explore the issues identified in the case studies and the varying perspectives of communities and institutions and to build relationships among relevant stakeholders.

The workshop provided a space for the development of communities of practice and for project partners to be heard by larger institutions and government agencies. Project partners discovered that there were many groups dealing with similar issues and constraints, and the workshop provided an opportunity to seek assistance directly from collecting institutions and organisations.

A report was produced following the workshop, you can access it here: Workshop Report (5MB)

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For each stage or development of this project, we create a community report to communicate the research process and project progress.


Last reviewed: 16 Aug 2019