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Introductions and Summaries

AIATSIS AT A GLANCE

Legislation and purpose

AIATSIS is established by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Act 1989 (Cth). AIATSIS’ purpose, as set out in this Act, is to:

  1. develop, preserve and provide access to a national collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage;
  2. use that collection to strengthen and promote knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage;
  3. provide leadership in the fields of:
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research;
    • Ethics and protocols for research and other activities relating to collections related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage; and
    • Use (including use for research) of the national collection and other collections containing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage;
  4. lead and promote collaborations and partnerships among the academic, research, non-government, business and government sectors and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in support of other functions; and
  5. provide advice to the Commonwealth on the situation and status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage.

Our vision

A world in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge and cultures are recognised, respected, celebrated and valued.

Our mission

  • Tell the story of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia
  • Create opportunities for people to encounter, engage with and be transformed by that story
  • Support and facilitate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural resurgence
  • Shape our national narrative

Authority

AIATSIS is a statutory agency under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Act 1989, and a corporate Commonwealth entity under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

Our strategy, planning and performance

The AIATSIS Strategic Plan 2018–2023 explains our strategic directions, priorities and commitments for the next four years. The Corporate Plan 2018–19 to 2021–22 sets out the context in which we are implementing our strategy, the activities and actions AIATSIS will take to achieve its strategy, and the indicators and targets AIATSIS will use to monitor the outcomes achieved. More detail about the strategies and actions set out in the corporate plan, and AIATSIS’ performance against its targets, is in the Annual Performance Statements on pages 18–100 of this report.

Our challenges

Over the next few years, our challenges include:

  • preserving, managing and growing the AIATSIS Collection—independently assessed as the world’s most significant collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander materials
  • contributing to active and ongoing discussion about Australia’s identity and narrative, through the story of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • extending our leadership role in best practice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research, publishing and cultural collections
  • engaging strategically in research that enhances AIATSIS’ position as a leader, demonstrates and develops best practice and supports Indigenous cultural resurgence
  • maximising the impact and benefits of significant short-to-medium-term projects, while maintaining focus on the long-term needs and priorities of the organisation
  • building a sustainable resource base—diversifying our revenue base through more effective harnessing of philanthropic and corporate sector resources
  • growing and managing partnerships and public engagement—connecting with a larger and more diverse range of Indigenous communities, national and international institutions and organisations and the Australian public, while managing demand and expectations.

Portfolio and responsible Ministers

During 2018–19 the Ministers responsible for AIATSIS were:

  • Senator the Hon. Nigel Scullion, Minister for Indigenous Affairs (April 2018—28 May 2019)
  • The Hon. Ken Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians (29 May 2019— present).

During 2018–19 AIATSIS has been part of the Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio.

Funding basis

The agency receives most of its funding from Australian Government appropriation ($20,462 million in 2018–19).

Additional revenue is derived from the sale of goods and services, grants and other sources ($4,861 million in 2018–19).

More information is provided in the ‘Financial resource management’ introduction to the Financial statements (page 113).

Our outcome

AIATSIS is responsible to the Australian Government for furthering understanding of Australian Indigenous cultures, past and present, through undertaking and publishing research, and providing access to print and audiovisual collections.

Our staff

As at 30 June 2019, AIATSIS had 116 ongoing staff. More information can be found on page 111.

Our values

The Australian Public Service (APS) values apply to staff in AIATSIS. We are:

  • impartial
  • committed to service
  • accountable
  • respectful
  • ethical.

Our underpinning commitments

  • AIATSIS’ technical expertise and capability is sustained for national and regional impact
  • AIATSIS is characterised by an Indigenous voice in all that it does
  • AIATSIS is a financially sustainable organisation
    • AIATSIS operates cohesively as a single entity embodying the concept of Yindyamarra (a Wiradjuri word meaning honour and respect. More broadly it implies thoughtfulness, graciousness, and kindness)
    • AIATSIS is positioned to influence across a range of sectors
  • AIATSIS is an innovative and flexible institution
  • AIATSIS is a proactively engaged and outwardly looking institution.

Where we work

AIATSIS has administrative and operational headquarters in Canberra at 51 Lawson Crescent, Acton, ACT, 2601; and at 14 Childers Street, Canberra, ACT, 2601.

Our history

AIATSIS was originally established in 1964 to preserve as many components of traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures as possible before they were lost forever.

After 55 years, and in the context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural and social resurgence, AIATSIS stands as a testament to the living and vibrant story of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the important place this has in our nation’s story.