Indigenous matters

Initiatives for 2019-2020

Update 31 January, 2020:

Update 16 July 2020

  • ALIA commissioned Indigenous artist Wayne ‘Buddy’ Martin to create a message stick which could be passed from one President to the next, to symbolise the passing on of knowledge, experience and goodwill from the current Board to the future Board. From the request, Buddy created two clapping sticks – a traditional instrument used during ceremonies. Both sticks are made from Mallee timber, the first was burnt to create dot and thatch patterns, representing craft and culture and features the ALIA star. The second stick is painted with kangaroo, emu, possum and goanna footprints and a circular design, which signifies everything beginning in the land and coming back to country.

​You can learn more about the artist, Buddy Martin, below:

Wayne 'Buddy' Martin is a proud Kamilaroi man from Collarenebri on the NSW/QLD border, who spent much of his childhood on the Walli Mission. Buddy is a country boy at heart and has fond memories of his time on the mission, living in a one room tin shelter with his family.

He is the son of Beverly Thorne and Thomas Martin, and has six sisters, two daughters and four grandchildren. As a child, Buddy’s learning began while watching his Uncles and Aunts draw in the dirt.

At age 17, Buddy’s family made the move to Canberra where he completed his Certificate in Painting and Decorating and where he ran his own business for many years, with numerous tenders with Government Departments such as the Department of Human Services, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and Aboriginal Housing. During Reconciliation and NAIDOC weeks, Buddy is highly sought after to run workshops, art projects, and mentoring in surrounding schools, Government departments, agencies and not for profit organisations.

Buddy has worked with many organisations  and programs over the years including (but not limited to), the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit (ATSIS); the Western Sydney MRC (Migrant Refugee Community) Community HeART Project; the Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service; the Canberra Men’s Centre; schools across Canberra and Sydney; the Migrant Refugee Centre; Barnardos (through its Deadly All Stars program); the Gugan Gulwan Street Beat Youth Outreach Program; and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Boomanulla Raiders Rugby League Football Club.

Buddy is a humble artist who has been recognised for his work and contribution to raising awareness of Aboriginal culture through his art. He has twice been a finalist of Canberra’s NAIDOC Artist of the Year, and in 2019 was awarded the ACT NAIDOC Artist of the Year. His artistic style has been described as traditional as well as contemporary as he draws from nature, his mind, heart, spirit and ancestors for inspiration.

Buddy’s artistic endeavours also includes wood burning, carving and making didgeridoos and artefacts. Through his art, Buddy demonstrated his commitment to reconciliation in a practical sense bringing together both Aboriginal and non-Indigenous communities within the local and far reaching regions; which also allows Buddy to give voice to his culture and to grow a mutual and respectful understanding for all regarding Aboriginal culture. Everything Buddy does is from the heart and can be related back to his strength in his own identity, his own resilience, connection to culture and his generous spirit.

Pictured right: the message sticks and artist Buddy Martin.


Initiatives for 2018-2019

Update 24 October, 2019:

Update 30 May, 2019:

  • ALIA Leadership & Innovation Forums in 2018–2019 were themed 'Indigenous matters' - eight events took place around the country, involving 33 different organisations and more than 300 participants. You can read the updated report here. The ACT Leadership & Innovation Forum on this theme took place on 21 May at AIATSIS.
  • ATSILIRN (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Library and Information and Resource Network) became an ALIA Group in the second half of 2018 and a meeting was held at ALIA House on 31 January, 2019, to talk about future plans. Pictured left to right: Ronald Briggs, Lyndall Ley, Alana Garwood-Houng, John Morseu, Margy Burn with the Taonga Mauri Stone - highly prized objects which travel to each International Indigenous Librarians' Forum, wherever it is held in the world.
  • ALIA was welcomed as a civil society partner in the UNESCO International Year of Indigenous Languages, 2019.
  • ALIA launched an Indigenous Scholarship Program to support indigenous students studying library and information science, and the Lyndall Ley grant for an Indigenous person to attend Information Online in 2019. The first recipient of the Indigenous Scholarship Program grant was Murray McBryde, who received $5000 to support his study of the Bachelor of Information Studies at Charles Sturt University (CSU). The presentation was made on 9 May at CSU by President-elect Robert Knight.
  • ALIA's Improving library services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples report was published, with the assistance of National and State Libraries Australia and the Australian Public Library Alliance.
  • ALIA responded to the IP Australia inquiry into the Protection of Indigenous Knowledge in the IP system with this submission.
  • ALIA embarked on its first Reconciliation Action Plan.

ALIA intensifies its focus on Indigenous matters for 2018-2019

11 July, 2018: ALIA’s presidential theme for 2018-2019 is "Indigenous matters" and the following five projects will be started by the Association over the next 12 months.

1. Finding ways to ensure more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are qualified for employment in professional library roles;
2. Initiating a review and revision of the ATSILIRN (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Library and Information and Resource Network) Protocols allied with work on classification of first nations’ original material;
3. Supporting libraries and library and information professionals to acknowledge and celebrate the International Year of Indigenous Languages in 2019;
4. Creating ALIA’s first Reconciliation Action Plan;
5. Producing guidance for libraries and library and information professionals seeking to improve library services for Indigenous people through the publication of a case study-based report.

These projects will be undertaken by ALIA in partnership with LIS educators, National and State Libraries Australia, AIATSIS, ATSILIRN, the ALIA Australian Public Library Alliance and other stakeholders.

ALIA President Lyndall Osborne explained, “ALIA has already made progress in supporting service improvements for Indigenous communities through its education, training and PD programs, and support for Indigenous literacy initiatives. We are also in discussions with ATSILIRN about the group becoming part of ALIA and providing us with an authentic Indigenous voice within the Association. However, there is more to be done, and these five projects will intensify our focus over the next year and provide the basis for further advances in the future.”

ALIA Directors are also pleased to state their support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which aligns with the Association’s objects and values, and, if adopted, would provide constitutional recognition for Australia’s first peoples.

How ALIA engages with Indigenous matters


  • Indigenous matters are included in the Core knowledge, skills and attributes for LIS professionals and in the Foundation statement for information professionals working in archives, libraries and records management.
  • There is an ALIA PD Scheme Indigenous Engagement specialisation and a Public Library specialisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services, both with a set of competencies and a skills audit checklist.
  • The ALIA Public Library Proficiency program includes a section on Indigenous matters.
  • We are in discussions about PD/certification for remote community library officers.


  • We have a policy, adopted in 1995, amended in 2006 and 2009, for libraries and information services and Indigenous peoples (scheduled for updating in 2019).
  • In our statement on copyright and intellectual property, ALIA recognises and respects the communal ownership of Indigenous cultural property.


  • ALIA was one of the associations that provided initial support for the creation of the IFLA Section for Indigenous Matters and we pay an additional fee each year to be a member of the section.


  • ATSILIRN became an ALIA Group in 2019. 
  • In the 2017 Member Survey just over 50% of ALIA Members said they had ‘some’ or ‘great’ interest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues.
  • Anecdotally there are fewer than 100 LIS professionals in Australia identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander; we don’t ask Members to respond to diversity questions so we don’t know exactly how many Indigenous people are part of the Association.


  • Every major ALIA conference, event and meeting commences with a welcome to country or an acknowledgement of country.


  • ALIA offers a library services for Indigenous communities course.


  • ALIA supported the original ATSILIRN protocols and will support a review in 2019-2020.

Indigenous literacy

  • We are long term supporters of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, providing free promotion through our newsletters and conferences.
  • In 2018 and 2019, we ran a joint promotion with Booktopia, with 5% of the value of sales donated to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.
  • Indigenous literacy featured at our ALIA National Early Literacy Summit in 2016.
  • We invited the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation to be part of the national early language and literacy alliance, of which ALIA is a founder member, following the 2016 summit.
  • National Simultaneous Storytime has been run with NITV, with translation of books into Indigenous languages.


  • ALIA's Director of Learning chaired the ‘Infrastructure and research access’ session at the AIATSIS National Indigenous Research Conference 2017.
  • Special recognition of the Indigenous research paradigm is included in the ALIA PD Scheme LIS Practitioner Researcher specialisation audit skills checklist.
  • Although published in 2005, the Australian Academic and Research Libraries special edition on Australian Indigenous knowledge and libraries remains a useful reference source.

ALIA House

  • The Rainbow Serpent bark painting, commissioned for the ALIA Darwin conference in 1986, is a valued asset of the Association and a feature of the ALIA Conference Room.