Resetting relationships: archives and Indigenous human rights in Australia

  • Sue McKemmish
  • Livia Iacovino
  • Eric Ketelaar
  • Melissa Castan
  • Lynette Russell


This paper provides an analysis of the Indigenous human rights agenda and identifies its relevance to Australian archivists2 Based on this analysis and exploration of how far existing archival programs address archives-related Indigenous human rights issues, it presents a road map and action agenda for realising Indigenous cultural rights in records and archives, and embedding Indigenous human rights in the professional responsibilities, culture and practices of the Australian archival and records community. The analysis, road map and action agenda provide guidance for the Australian archival and records community working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The paper is based in part on the findings of the 2004-08 Trust and Technology Project, a collaborative research partnership funded by the Australian Research Council and involving Public Record Office Victoria, Koorie Heritage Trust Inc., Koorie Records Task Force, the Indigenous Issues Special Interest Group of the Australian Society of Archivists, and Monash University. It also draws on analysis and synthesis of the main themes and issues presented and discussed at a pre-conference workshop at the 2010 Australian Society of Archivists Conference in Melbourne, Archives and Indigenous Human Rights (AIHR): Towards an understanding of the archival and recordkeeping implications of Australian and international human rights for Indigenous Australians.2 The paper also references relevant sections of an Australian guide to implementing the 2007 United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recently issued by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).3 Implementation of an Indigenous human rights action agenda by the Australian archival community would represent a fitting response to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda's rallying call for a resetting of relationships between archival and Indigenous communities, involving the active participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in archive and recordkeeping systems.

How to Cite
McKemmish S., Iacovino L., Ketelaar E., Castan M. and Russell L. (2011) “Resetting relationships: archives and Indigenous human rights in Australia”, Archives & Manuscripts, 39(1), pp. 107-144. Available at: (Accessed: 27January2023).

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