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Strategic framework

Our strategic focus and our initiatives to realise the strategies published in our Corporate Plan, Strategic Plan and Portfolio Budget Statements are outlined below.

Strategic focus

Digital, education, collection development, collections transformation and communications strategies guide our work.

Digital Transformation Strategy 2021–2030

The AIATSIS Digital Transformation Strategy 2021–2030 was prepared during the reporting period. It guides our investment in the technology and modernisation of the AIATSIS digital environment, which is needed to realise our strategic initiatives.

Education Strategy 2021–2025

The AIATSIS Education Strategy 2021–2025 aims to influence what children learn at school about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; research, develop and provide culturally responsive, digitally agile professional learning and education resources; and facilitate a cutting-edge Schools Program, which is situated in Canberra and provides inquiry-based learning experiences for visiting students.

Collection Development Strategy 2017–2021

The AIATSIS Collection Development Strategy 2017–2021 assists AIATSIS to develop the collection in a manner that continuously improves its alignment with the needs and expectations of our clients, now and into the future.

The core principles of the Collection Development Strategy are based on ensuring that AIATSIS is building a collection that:

  • is ethically developed and managed and where ethical collecting practices underpin our collection development strategies
  • is appropriately accessible
  • recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as creators and owners of their own knowledge
  • encompasses cultural, heritage and historical materials that are created by, as well as with and about, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • is representative of the geographic and linguistic diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • is focused on the 20th and 21st century experiences and expressions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait peoples.

This strategy complements the collecting practices of other major collecting institutions that continue to develop their collections of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander materials.

Collections Transformation Strategy 2021–2030

The development of this strategy was completed in the period and came into effect in July 2021.

The Collections Transformation Strategy (CTS) is a long-term framework and planning document to ensure optimal, appropriate access to the AIATSIS collection. Over the next nine years, a program of works will progressively reshape the operational environment for managing, preserving and facilitating access to the AIATSIS collection and, in conjunction with the Digital Transformation Strategy 2021–2030, the infrastructure that supports this work.

The investigative stage of the CTS project closed in June 2021 with the delivery of the strategy and roadmap.

Communications Strategy 2019–2023

The AIATSIS Communications Strategy, endorsed by the Senior Executive Board, outlines the alignment of communication activities to achieve key elements of the AIATSIS Strategic Plan 2018–2023.

The key objectives of the Communications Strategy aim to position AIATSIS as a trusted, modern forum for dialogue, while enhancing the public image and value of AIATSIS and extending its reach and impact.

Corporate Plan strategies

Our work is defined by five strategies:

  • Build and preserve a national collection and make it accessible
  • Promote better understanding of Indigenous peoples’ cultures and heritage
  • Lead and influence on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research, ethics, protocols and collections
  • Partner and collaborate with our communities, partners and governments
  • Advise on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and heritage.

These strategies and the series of interrelated goals under them (see diagram below - Strategic framework) inform the actions taken across the four-year life of the Corporate Plan. The Corporate Plan expands these actions to specify the performance expected from AIATSIS. The performance targets are published in both the Corporate Plan and the annual Portfolio Budget Statements, and reported on in Part 3 of this annual report.

Strategic Plan initiatives

Our Strategic Plan initiatives are inspired by our vision and mission statements. They fulfil our responsibilities, as well as the outcomes expected by the Australian Government (and therefore the Australian public).

The Strategic Plan 2018–2023 sets out five interconnecting initiatives as follows.

Initiative 1: Discovery—a suite of measures designed to help Australians discover the richness of the histories, cultures and heritage of our First Nations people.

Initiative 2: Extending our reach—exploring opportunities to extend the reach of AIATSIS, both in terms of presence and influence, through physical and digital means.

Initiatives include a leading-edge, engaging web presence and potential physical presence beyond Canberra.

Initiative 3: Resurgence—contributing to the ongoing cultural resurgence across Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia.

Projects include the publication of Indigenous language dictionaries and the Songlines project, which is working with communities to secure song traditions.

Initiative 4: Transformation—transforming people’s understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia.

Measures include developing resources for the teaching of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues in schools and supporting of professional development through cultural competency training.

Initiative 5: Delivering special projects

Strategic framework graphic

The Figure below illustrates the interconnectedness of our:

  • Responsibilities: Purpose, Mission, Functions, Outcome
  • Strategic initiatives: Discovery, Extending our reach, Resurgence, Transformation, Delivering special projects
  • Strategies: Build and preserve a national collection and make it accessible, Promote better understanding of Indigenous peoples’ cultures and heritage, Lead and influence on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research, ethics, protocols and collections, Partner and collaborate with our communities, partners and governments, and Advise on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and heritage.
  • Goal statements
  • Performance criteria headings
  • Priorities for 2020–21 determined by the AIATSIS Council.

Strategic Framework

This diagram illustrates the information listed above and throughout part three, performance. Each of the five strategies have a goal statement. It is the goal statement that we report our progress against. Within each strategy and goal statement there are a series of measures. For example the diagram shows the strategy build and preserve a national collection and make it accessible directly linked to a goal statement which is ensuring our collection is representative relevant diverse accessible and digital. The measures that we focus on our collection growth, collection accessibility and collection digitisation. The diagram has arrows connecting each strategy with its goal and then the performance focus. At the bottom of the diagram there are three boxes which specify the priorities for 2020–21. They are increasingly making our collection more accessible by expanding our digital presence, extending our reach and storage capability. This sits directly below the vertical row focusing on collection. Another priority is nurturing and growing our public programs in education, curriculum and teaching resources, and teaching professional development. This priority connects directly with four of the strategies. The vertical arrangement of the diagram makes this obvious. The third priority is growing and refining the skills of our executive level 2 staff. This is to the very right of the diagram and directly relates to the goal of strengthening and enhancing our capability to achieve our purpose and targeted outcome. The two headed arrows make the vertical flow obvious to the reader.