Indigenous matters

ALIA intensifies its focus on Indigenous matters for 2018-2019

11 July, 2018: ALIA’s presidential theme for 2018-2019 is "Indigenous matters" and the following five projects will be started by the Association over the next 12 months.

1. Finding ways to ensure more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are qualified for employment in professional library roles;
2. Initiating a review and revision of the ATSILIRN (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Library and Information and Resource Network) Protocols allied with work on classification of first nations’ original material;
3. Supporting libraries and library and information professionals to acknowledge and celebrate the International Year of Indigenous Languages in 2019;
4. Creating ALIA’s first Reconciliation Action Plan;
5. Producing guidance for libraries and library and information professionals seeking to improve library services for Indigenous people through the publication of a case study-based report.

These projects will be undertaken by ALIA in partnership with LIS educators, National and State Libraries Australia, AIATSIS, ATSILIRN, the ALIA Australian Public Library Alliance and other stakeholders.

ALIA President Lyndall Osborne explained, “ALIA has already made progress in supporting service improvements for Indigenous communities through its education, training and PD programs, and support for Indigenous literacy initiatives. We are also in discussions with ATSILIRN about the group becoming part of ALIA and providing us with an authentic Indigenous voice within the Association. However, there is more to be done, and these five projects will intensify our focus over the next year and provide the basis for further advances in the future.”

ALIA Directors are also pleased to state their support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which aligns with the Association’s objects and values, and, if adopted, would provide constitutional recognition for Australia’s first peoples.

How ALIA engages with Indigenous matters


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The ALIA Public Library Proficiency program includes a section on Indigenous matters.
  • We are in discussions about PD/certification for remote community library officers.


  • We have a policy, adopted in 1995, amended in 2006 and 2009, for libraries and information services and Indigenous peoples (scheduled for updating in 2018).
  • In our statement on copyright and intellectual property, ALIA recognises and respects the communal ownership of Indigenous cultural property.


  • ALIA was one of the associations that provided initial support for the creation of the IFLA Section for Indigenous Matters and we pay an additional fee each year to be a member of the section.


  • In December 2016, we hosted a meeting of ATSILIRN at ALIA House and there was positive interest in ATSILIRN becoming an ALIA Group. 
  • In the 2017 Member Survey just over 50% of ALIA Members said they had ‘some’ or ‘great’ interest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues.
  • Anecdotally there are fewer than 50 LIS professionals in Australia identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander; we don’t ask Members to respond to diversity questions so we don’t know exactly how many Indigenous people are part of the Association.


  • Every major ALIA conference, event and meeting commences with a welcome to country or an acknowledgement of country.


  • A library services for Indigenous communities course has been scheduled for 2018.


  • ALIA supported the original ATSILIRN protocols and will support a review in 2018-2019.
  • We have proposed metadata for first nations original materials as a priority topic for the Australian Committee on Cataloguing.

Indigenous literacy

  • We are long term supporters of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, providing free promotion through our newsletters and conferences.
  • In 2018, we ran a joint promotion with Booktopia, offering a variety of Indigenous Australian children’s books, with 5% of the value of sales donated to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.
  • Indigenous literacy featured at our ALIA National Early Literacy Summit in 2016.
  • We have invited the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation to be part of the national early language and literacy alliance, of which ALIA is a founder member, following the 2016 summit.
  • National Simultaneous Storytime has been run with NITV, with translation of books into Indigenous languages.


  • Judy Brooker, ALIA Director of Learning, chaired the ‘Infrastructure and research access’ session at the AIATSIS National Indigenous Research Conference 2017.
  • Special recognition of the Indigenous research paradigm is included in the ALIA PD Scheme LIS Practitioner Researcher specialisation audit skills checklist.
  • Although published in 2005, the Australian Academic and Research Libraries special edition on Australian Indigenous knowledge and libraries remains a useful reference source.

ALIA House

  • 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.