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Where there is First Nations Australian community participation or Indigenous content involved in the project, written confirmation of the willingness of both the subject(s) and the community to be involved in the project is essential.

First Nations Australian​ means a film or program based on an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander story, with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander subjects or featuring Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage in any form.

As per the funding application form, where the content involves a true story or real-life subject, you will need to provide a signed clearance or release for any individual or community depicted. Where the content involves culturally specific material, you may need written consent to use Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage. 

Where the content involved is not specific to a particular community or does not involve a real-life story or depictions of culturally specific material, the team will still need to provide a written statement of how they will deal with the material, what research has been done, what action has been taken to date, and what consultation is proposed. Evidence of a concrete plan is required. 

The required statements should be supplied on a separate page that is clearly labelled – in accordance with the checklist on the relevant application form. Please ensure you allow sufficient time for consultation so that people giving consent can more fully understand what they are consenting to.

Please note, these requirements apply equally to Indigenous and non-Indigenous filmmakers.

Consultation and consent

(Taken from Screen Australia’s Pathways & Protocols: A filmmaker’s guide to working with Indigenous people, culture and concepts)

Consultation and consent in First Nations Australian communities are interrelated. Through consultation a filmmaker can come to understand what requires consent and the correct people to give it, and the people giving consent can more fully understand what they are consenting to.

Consultation refers to the process whereby people exchange views and information. Consultation is not just a one-way process, but a process of sharing knowledge and opinions. Consultation means working together, listening to what the other party has to say and acting upon it.

Consent is a process whereby permission is given, based on a relationship of trust. Consent should be informed, and this means filmmakers need to provide a clear explanation of the filmmaking process, timeframes, contract details, possible benefits, impacts and future uses of footage at the time of seeking consent, to avoid misunderstandings at a later time. The consent process should be transparent for all parties, and information should be explained in plain English or with the help of an interpreter.

If you have any queries, please contact the Screen Australia First Nations Department on 1800 213 099 or email First Nations.

We recommend that filmmakers intending to use any First Nations Australian material in their projects read the protocols. It is a useful guide that provides information on dealing with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander material from research to marketing of your film. It also provides useful tips for consultation with First Nations Australian communities.

AFTRS have put together insights from industry collaborators. Go to their website or view the trailer below.

Indigenous Consultation Trailer from AFTRS on Vimeo.

AUSTRALIAN Indigenous Cultural And Intellectual Property (ICIP) Rights

Australian Indigenous cultural and intellectual property (ICIP) rights refer to Indigenous people’s rights with respect to their cultural heritage. This is a living heritage, which comprises all objects, sites, stories, images and knowledge, the nature or use of which has been transmitted, or continues to be transmitted, from generation to generation, and which is regarded as pertaining to a particular Indigenous group or its territory.

Wording similar to the following provision will be contained in all Screen Australia development, production and post-production contracts for projects involving Indigenous content or participants:

  • The Producer and Screen Australia acknowledge the existence of ICIP Rights of the Indigenous participants in the Film. The Producer agrees and undertakes to endeavour to ensure that the ICIP Rights of Indigenous participants are respected and upheld in the production and all aspects of distribution of the Film.
  • In the event that The Producer wishes to include ICIP Rights material in the Film, The Producer shall obtain a non-exclusive licence from the ICIP Rights holder/s or custodian/s to include such ICIP Rights materials in the Film.
  • In the event of a dispute regarding the ICIP Rights of any Indigenous participant in the Film, all parties shall use their best endeavours to resolve the dispute.