ICOM National Committee Australia

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September 6, 2022

Update Australia’s national cultural policy

ICOM Australia has provided input to the development of a new cultural policy.

In summary

  • Key points
    • Museums and galleries are integral parts of the Australian social, cultural, educational, and economic landscape.
    • ICOM Australia supports the development of a new national cultural policy (which is long overdue).
    • It is unequivocal that the culture and experiences of Australia’s First Nations are fundamental to the new cultural policy. We welcome the Minister’s decision to elevate the First Nations pillar to be the first .
    • Recalibrating the original 2013 Five Goals is a sensible start. However, the national and international context has changed significantly in the last decade, for example:
    o There are the ongoing impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic; the acceleration of climate change and its impacts; the international volatile strategic environment;
  • developments in the Asia-Pacific region and the rise of China; attacks upon democracy, transparency, and critical thinking in many parts of the world; the digitisation of everyday life…
    o There is the impoverishment of much of Australia’s cultural infrastructure (both organisations and people, such as artists, historians, and other cultural workers) over the last 20 years through lack of vision and investment at the national level. There is an over reliance on an ageing volunteer workforce especially in remote and regional areas of Australia.
    o Access to and participation in cultural activity is proven to be significantly positive for individual and societal health and wellbeing.
    o Building cultural infrastructure is as necessary as other forms of infrastructure, as now formally recognised by Infrastructure Australia.
    o These and other trends and influences must be taken into account in developing the new policy.


  • A cultural policy is far broader than an arts policy. The suggested five pillars are strong but do not encompass the full extent of our cultural ecosystem. The most critical gap is tangible and intangible heritage.
    o Heritage is a core component of the cultural policies of most other countries, such as the UK. Sweden’s cultural policy, for example, aims to “promote a dynamic cultural heritage that is preserved, used and developed.”

ICOM Australia Submission on National Cultural Policy 15 August 2022