Indigenous matters

The Australian Library and Information Association acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to lands, waters, cultures and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; and to Elders past, present and emerging.

Quick link to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Library and Information and Resource Network.


Areas of activity 

ALIA is committed to reconciliation in Australia. Respect for the diversity, individuality and equality of all and recognition of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is a core value within the ALIA Strategic Plan 2018­‑2022. Indigenous matters are included in the Core knowledge, skills and attributes for LIS professionals and in the Foundation statement for information professionals working in archives, libraries and records management; and ALIA has a policy, adopted in 1995, amended in 2006 and 2009, for Libraries and information services and Indigenous peoples (scheduled for updating). In ALIA's statement on copyright and intellectual property, ALIA recognises and respects the communal ownership of Indigenous cultural property.  ALIA supported the original ATSILIRN protocols and will support a future review. 

There is an ALIA PD Scheme Indigenous Engagement specialisation and a Public Library specialisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services, both with a set of competencies and a skills audit checklist; and the ALIA Public Library Proficiency program includes a section on Indigenous matters. Internationally,  ALIA was one of the associations that provided initial support for the creation of the IFLA Section for Indigenous Matters and ALIA pays an additional fee each year to be a member of the section.  Every ALIA conference, event and meeting commences with a Welcome to Country or an Acknowledgement of Country. ALIA is a long term supporter of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, providing free promotion through ALIA newsletters and conferences. The Rainbow Serpent bark painting, commissioned for the ALIA Darwin conference in 1986, is a valued asset of the Association and a feature of the ALIA Conference Room.



ALIA completed and published its Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan for May 2019– January 2021 and ALIA commissioned Indigenous artist Wayne ‘Buddy’ Martin to create a message stick which could be passed from one President to the next, to symbolise the passing on of knowledge, experience and goodwill from the current Board to the future Board. From the request, Buddy created two clapping sticks – a traditional instrument used during ceremonies. Both sticks are made from Mallee timber, the first was burnt to create dot and thatch patterns, representing craft and culture and features the ALIA star. The second stick is painted with kangaroo, emu, possum and goanna footprints and a circular design, which signifies everything beginning in the land and coming back to country. Learn more about the artist, Buddy Martin. ALIA also published the report, 2019: A year in libraries which featured information on the 2019 UN International Year of Indigenous Languages. 



ALIA was active in supporting reconciliation as well as its Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander Members. This support included the fomer ALIA President Lyndall Ley's Presidential theme of Indigenous Matters; and through events such as the 2018-2019 ALIA Leadership & Innovation Forums which had the same theme and ALIA sponsored the Right of Reply - Indigenous Rights in Data & Collections Symposium at the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence in 2019.  Additionally, ALIA endorsed the SNAICC Position Paper calling for the establishment of a national commissioner for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, it released the report Improving library services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with the assistance of National and State Libraries Australia and the Australian Public Library Alliance; and ALIA responded to the IP Australia inquiry into the Protection of Indigenous Knowledge in the IP system

The ATSILIRN (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Library and Information and Resource Network) became an ALIA Group in the second half of 2018 and a meeting was held at ALIA House on 31 January, 2019, to talk about future plans; and two ALIA Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander Scholarships were presented in 2020 to Claire Sadler to study the Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship) and in 2019 to Murray McBryde to study the Bachelor of Information Studies at Charles Sturt University.  In 2019 ALIA awarded the 2019 ALIA Research Grant Award to Kirsten Thorpe for her project ‘National Survey on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment in Australian Libraries’. Last but not least,  across 2018-2019 ALIA ran a joint promotion with Booktopia, with 5% of the value of sales donated to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.


Prior to 2018

Indigenous literacy featured at ALIA National Early Literacy Summit in 2016, and ALIA has previously offered the training course Library services for Indigenous communities which will be offered again in the future. 


This page is accurate as of 10 February 2021 and will be updated as needed