Visitors to Australia love picking up Aboriginal-style keepsakes, but the country’s indigenous arts community is calling on the Government to make changes to the law to make it illegal to import and sell fake Aboriginal souvenirs.
It isn’t breaking the law at present for shops to sell imitation Aboriginal souvenirs under Australian competition and consumer laws. It’s not considered misleading, as long as the souvenirs are not specifically claiming to be authentic and contain a small sticker stating where they were made.
As a result, campaigners found imitation Aboriginal souvenirs made in countries like India, Indonesia and China on sale in 80% of shops they visited. The campaigners include Indigenous Art Code, a group that works to preserve and promote ethical trading in indigenous art.
They say that each cultural group has its own particular designs and patterns, and the fake items are merely a type of imitation art. They would like to see all aboriginal art and crafts on sale being made by indigenous people, or licensed to them.
The protesters would like these changes to be made before an influx of tourists arrive for next year’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. In a statement, the Australian Government has indicated that it will continue working with the Indigenous Art Code and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to resolve the matter.
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