Recognising the history and the significance of First Nations cultural practices and the traditional sovereign rights of First Nations people in this country, Australian Design Centre (ADC) has regularly and consistently highlighted the work of First Nations artists, designers and cultural producers.

ADC aims to be a creative organisation with authentic and respectful First Peoples engagement strategies embedded throughout our decision-making processes, creative programming, operations, audience development and marketing.

In 2022, ADC developed a Strategic Framework: First Nations Engagement 2023–2027 (‘the Framework’) to provide practical and ethical guidelines to support our commitment to First Nations art, craft and design across the organisation, including the Board, staff, creatives, community, audiences, partners and collaborators.

The Framework identifies ways in which to improve authentic acknowledgment, employment opportunities, procurement, professional development, project planning and consultative processes, to ensure we work respectfully, collaboratively and sustainably.

A key role in the organisation is the First Nations Creative Producer. The current incumbent is Dakota Dixon, proud Dharawal-Dhungatti woman from the La Perouse area and a descendant of the traditional owners of Sydney Harbour. A new First Nations Reference Group will inform engagement strategies on an ongoing basis.

The 2023 program includes (the late) Arone Raymond Meeks’ large Australia-shaped chaise longue, entitled Spirit Ark, in the Unravelling Queerly exhibition, as a part of the WorldPride Arts Program.

Mutukaku Ngura – Motorcar Country, a collaboration with Tjanpi Desert Weavers opens on 30 March, as well as a number of dedicated First Nations projects throughout the year creatively produced by Dakota Dixon.

Implementation undertaken in 2023, as outlined in the Strategic Framework, includes:

  • negotiating cultural awareness training for the team;
  • establishing a First Nations Reference Group;
  • initiating the process of First Nations Board representation;
  • designing and planning Acknowledgement signage for the public gallery space, website and email signatures;
  • developing First Nations exhibitions, including multi-generational and language components;
  • developing relationships and partnerships with First Nations organisations;
  • amending exhibition and partnerships agreements to include Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property clauses;
  • developing protocols for acknowledging and welcoming First Nations exhibitions on site;
  • reviewing the First Nations programming webpages to include the Framework;
  • applying to join the Indigenous Art Code;
  • building a First Nations presence in the Object Shop;
  • developing a project that reflects the 2023 NAIDOC theme.

We are privileged to work alongside First Nations people. We recognise we have much to learn and share about culture and Country. We look forward to working together to accomplish the strategies and actions outlined in the Framework.

To read our Strategic Framework: First Nations Engagement 2023–2027 please click here.

If you would like to learn more about the history of ADC’s First Nations programming, please click here.

Pamela Marrawaymala Barrarritja (Fish) Pendant brass and silk

Image: Photo: courtesy of Mark Metcalf City of Sydney.

Pamela Marrawaymala Barrarritja (Fish) Pendant brass and silk, Photo: Emily McCulloch Child.