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Responsibilities

This section details our legislation, purpose and outcome, and our portfolio body and Minister.

Legislation and purpose

AIATSIS is established by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Act 1989 (Cth) and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Amendment Act 2016 (Cth). AIATSIS' purpose as set out in the mission statement and the functions described in the Act is to:

a. develop, preserve and provide access to a national collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage;

b. use that collection to strengthen and promote knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage;

c. provide leadership in the fields of:

i. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research; and

ii. ethics and protocols for research and other activities relating to collections related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage; and

iii. use (including use for research) of the national collection and other collections containing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage;

d. 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 of the Institute;

e. provide advice to the Commonwealth on the situation and status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage.

AIATSIS is a statutory agency under the Public Service Act 1999, (Cth), and a corporate Commonwealth entity under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (Cth).

Targeted outcome

AIATSIS has one outcome, published in the Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS), that informs all of our strategic intentions and performance reporting. It is:

Further understanding of Australian Indigenous cultures, past and present through undertaking and publishing research, and providing access to print and audiovisual collections.

Portfolio and responsible Minister

During 2020–21 the Minister responsible for AIATSIS was the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians. AIATSIS is part of the Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio, which has nine non-corporate Commonwealth entities, 10 corporate Commonwealth entities and three Commonwealth companies.

Our placement in the Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio emphasises that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander matters are at the forefront of public and government administration.

Obligations

The AIATSIS Council Strategic Plan 2018–2023 describes our strategic directions, priorities and commitments, while the Corporate Plan 2020–2024 sets out the context in which we are implementing our strategy, the goals we have set and the key actions we are taking to achieve our strategy. The Corporate Plan includes the performance criteria we use to monitor our progress against targeted result areas.

The PBS provides an overview statement, a strategic direction statement and, importantly, Budget statements and forward estimates. As stated in the PBS, the government is responsible for:

improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through enhanced Indigenous economic rights to support economic independence, the provision of improved access to education, employment, health and other services, as well as the maintenance of cultural identity.

AIATSIS is critical to the ‘maintenance of cultural identity’. This role cascades into everything we do and the obligations published in our strategic and corporate plans.