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Over the last 50 years there have been shifts towards changing the relationships between museums and galleries and Indigenous people. To assist in this, the Australian Museums and Galleries Association developed its 1993 policy, Previous Possessions: New Obligations: Policies for Museums in Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and then in 2005, the revised policy, Continuous Cultures, Ongoing Responsibilities: Principles and guidelines for Australian museums working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage. These documents set standards of Indigenous employment, care of collections, repatriation and management of sacred and secret material.

Under the terms of reference for the Australian Museums and Galleries Association 10-Year Indigenous Roadmap project, Terri Janke and Company were contracted to make recommendations for updates to the 2005 Continuous Cultures, Ongoing Responsibilities (CCOR) policy.


These recommendations have been drawn from insights and information gained in the extensive consultations for the development of the Roadmap. In particular, the recommended updates incorporate some shifts in perspective from the needs of museums and galleries to those of Indigenous communities in their relationships with the sector.

Recommendations throughout this document have been written in purple. Therefore, we can identify where the original principles and guidelines of Continuous Cultures, Ongoing Responsibilities are, as well as see the recommendations that Terri Janke and Company have inserted.

The significant changes recommended in the update of Continuous Cultures, Ongoing Responsibilities are:

  • Name change from Continuous Cultures, Ongoing Responsibilities to First Peoples: Connecting Custodians. This recommendation is made to enhance the involvement of First Peoples. The new name would highlight the important role that First Peoples play.

  • Consultations suggested that there needed to be change in language. It was suggested that First Peoples was the preferred term when referring to Indigenous Australians. This was because First Peoples reflected that Indigenous Australians come from diverse cultures.

  • There are additions to principles that were referred to in Continuous Cultures, Ongoing Responsibilities. These additions would address aspects arising out of the consultations. However, it should be noted that all the principles from Continuous Cultures, Ongoing Responsibilities were still relevant.

  • There are new principles. These include the addition of Custodianship, Building Indigenous Audiences, Weaving Indigenous Values into Museum and Gallery Business, Cultural Safety, and Benefit Sharing. These principles shift Continuous Cultures into a document that takes into consideration more Indigenous issues and perspectives.

  • The addition of new guidelines is also recommended. Existing guidelines were all still relevant, though there have been extra clauses added to some guidelines. New guidelines include Reflecting on Past Practices, Amplifying Indigenous Voices, Weaving Indigenous Values into Museum and Gallery Business, and Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property.

  • Finally, the updated Continuous Cultures, Ongoing Responsibilities needs to have a communication strategy. It was noted in all workshops that the majority of attendees, particularly from Indigenous communities, but even museum and gallery staff, did not know the policy existed. A communication strategy needs to be implemented

Cover-Recommendation for Update of CCOR_

To give your feedback, please contact the AMaGA National Office on or use the form below.

The revised policy will be launched in May 2020 at the AMaGA National Conference.

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