First Nations Domains

It is crucial that the library sector supports and represents Indigenous people’s library and information needs. The Framework includes the knowledge, awareness and skills that inform culturally appropriate engagement with First Nations communities and collections. There are two domains that cover different aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander priorities, developed in close collaboration with the ALIA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Expert Advisory Group

Respect and recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges, cultures and Country is a Core Domain, and it is expected that everyone working in the LIS sector in Australia, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, has capability in this domain and embraces the need to embed an acknowledgement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in practice. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Contexts is a Professional Knowledge Domain encompassing specialised professional knowledge areas required for working with Indigenous information and knowledge systems. As a Professional Knowledge Domain, it recognises the potential to develop expertise in the area and supports acknowledgement of professional accomplishment in this area of practice.

While both the Core and Professional Knowledge Domains are intended to develop pathways for professional practice for all Australian library workers, there is recognition that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers will bring their lived experience to the domains.

While competence may increase support for people’s cultural competence and increase diversity within the profession, this is not its primary aim. These areas of priorities are addressed in relation to wider diversity, inclusion and cultural competence areas across the Core Domains, the Communities and Stakeholders and Leadership and Management Professional Knowledge Domains. Indigenous perspectives are woven through each domain to ensure an embedded approach for the support of First Nations priorities across Australian libraries.

Kirsten Thorpe
Pathways Board Member

The Respect and recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges, cultures and Country Core Domain is for all people engaged in library and information services in Australia, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, embedding recognition and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in practice. 

This involves current understanding of cultural protocols for Acknowledgement of Country across the diverse First Nations communities of Australia, and awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges, cultures and Country in relation to the library and information environment, including:

  • an acknowledgement that we are all living and working on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Country
  • an understanding of the diversity and importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and knowledge systems
  • the significance of Indigenous worldviews and cultural practices as these relate to the library and information sector
  • the provision of services addressing unique information needs of Indigenous people and communities 
  • the impact of colonisation and the relationship with libraries and information systems 
  • protocols around Indigenous collections and access
  • the importance of First Nations' voices and representation in LIS practice, especially in work or collections about or for First Nations peoples
  • cultural competency to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues’ wellbeing within the workplace
  • a commitment to uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Contexts professional domain recognises the importance of supporting Indigenous knowledges and community engagement across Australian libraries.

It is intended that knowledge, understanding and competency in this domain is the responsibility and to the benefit of all people working in the library and information services sector in Australia, Indigenous and non-Indigenous colleagues alike. While non-Indigenous LIS workers may become proficient and knowledgeable in this Professional Knowledge Domain through training, continuing professional development and professional engagements, the personal lived experience of First Nations LIS workers is non-substitutable, holds unique value and may translate into greater competency and expertise in this area.

This domain focuses on developing the skills and knowledges in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contexts, understanding the priorities and needs of Indigenous people in the context of redressing harms from colonisation and developing approaches supported by Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing. 

Current knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander professional knowledge as it relates to the library and information environment includes: 

  • Indigenous information and knowledge systems
  • principles of Indigenous rights to self-determination and sovereignty
  • Indigenous information initiatives, policies and protocols, such as the ATSILIRN Protocols and Right of Reply
  • history and legacy of colonisation and impacts on Indigenous peoples’ knowledge and information needs
  • Indigenous authority, ownership, control and the protection of Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP)
  • relationality, wellbeing and respect in Indigenous information contexts
  • cultural context of the Indigenous library workforce.

The ALIA Library and Information Services Workforce Framework Explanatory Materials