Two out of every three products in the $80 million Indigenous-style souvenirs business is made up of forgeries with no ties to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, according to data from The Productivity Commission.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are being plundered in visual arts and crafts, says the commission, which is calling for action from the Australian Government to help the communities protect their cultures.
The commission says many visual arts and crafts misappropriate important cultural symbols and stories, weakening customary laws and inflicting injury and offence.
“Inauthentic Indigenous-style products mislead consumers, deprive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists of income and disrespect cultures,” said commissioner Romlie Mokak.
“Communities have limited legal avenues to stop their cultures from being used without permission and out of context.”
There are still cases of unethical behaviour directed at artists. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are still under-represented in management and leadership posts in the sector, the commission reports.
The commission suggests enhancing the resources provided to artists through the Indigenous Art Code and examining the sufficiency and efficiency of government funding, to make sure it supports current and future employment growth in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visual arts and crafts workforce.