Heritage

pattern

Registering Aboriginal intangible heritage

"Our stories, our songlines, our places of power and ceremony are not just spoken knowledge; they are the lifeblood of our culture.
Intangible heritage places our spiritual with our physical presence, it makes us who we are. It is so important we protect this so we are able to pass our knowledge on to our younger mob, so they find their identity, and continue our rites as Traditional Owners of Country for years to come."

Photo of Racquel Kerr, Dja Dja Wurrung - image courtesy of Bendigo Advertiser

Racquel Kerr, Dja Dja Wurrung

Who can register Aboriginal intangible heritage?

A Registered Aboriginal Party, registered native title holder, or traditional owner group entity can apply to have details of Aboriginal intangible heritage recorded on the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Register (VAHR).

The registration of Aboriginal intangible heritage is entirely voluntary.

How is Aboriginal intangible heritage defined?

Recognising that the practicalities associated with registering and safeguarding Aboriginal intangible heritage are different from those of tangible cultural heritage, Aboriginal intangible heritage is dealt with distinctly in the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (the Act).

It is defined as:

…any knowledge of or expression of Aboriginal tradition… and includes oral traditions, performing arts, stories, rituals, festivals, social practices, craft, visual arts, and environmental and ecological knowledge, but does not include anything that is widely known to the public.

Aboriginal intangible heritage also includes any intellectual creation or innovation based on or derived from anything referred to [above]…

See Part 5A of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 for further information.

Yellow ochre used for body paint

Why register Aboriginal intangible heritage?

Representative groups of Traditional Owners may choose to register their intangible heritage on the VAHR for various reasons, including:

  • to preserve the cultural knowledge or expression for future generations
  • to recognise cultural knowledge and expressions as being of equal importance to cultural places and objects
  • to protect against misappropriation and secure custodial rights in law
  • to form legally binding agreements with external parties regarding the use of the intangible heritage.

Registration forms

Primary Recording Form Registration of Aboriginal Intangible Heritage 2017 Primary Recording Form Registration of Aboriginal Intangible HeritageDOC (32.82 KB) Component Form A Oral Traditions and Expressions.docx Component Form A Oral Traditions and ExpressionsDOC (25.28 KB) Component Form B Performing Arts Component Form B Performing ArtsDOC (27.06 KB) Component Form C Social Practices, Ceremony and Festive Events Component Form C Social Practices, Ceremony and Festive EventsDOC (28.54 KB)Component Form D Environmental and Ecological Knowledge Component Form D Environmental and Ecological KnowledgeDOC (33.65 KB) Component Form E Arts and Crafts Component Form E Arts and CraftsDOC (27.14 KB)Component Form F Intellectual Creation or Innovation Component Form F Intellectual Creation or InnovationDOC (28.54 KB)

Primary recording form

The registration of Aboriginal intangible heritage on the VAHR consists of 2 parts: the primary and secondary recording forms.

The primary recording form records basic information about the Aboriginal intangible heritage, including:

  • a brief description
  • an indication of whether the information is sensitive or not
  • the Traditional Owners of the Aboriginal intangible heritage
  • associated Aboriginal cultural heritage
  • consultation details
  • safeguarding requirements
  • an indication of any knowledge held by Traditional Owners only.

Secondary recording form

The secondary recording forms are the component forms.

The component forms are for recording detailed information about the Aboriginal intangible heritage and information relevant to the type or 'category' of Aboriginal intangible heritage being registered.

More than 1 component form can be completed for the Aboriginal intangible heritage being registered, as Aboriginal intangible heritage will often relate to more than 1 category.

Multiple component forms for the same category can be completed, to reflect multiple versions of the Aboriginal intangible heritage being registered.

At least 1 component form must always be included with the primary recording form.

Guidelines for Recording Victorian Aboriginal Intangible Heritage 2016 Guidelines for Recording Victorian Aboriginal Intangible HeritageDOC (113.7 KB)

Resources:

Protect and Promote Your Culture: A Practical Guide to Intellectual Property for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, WIPO

UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage 2003

UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage website

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore

Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific (ICHAP)

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)

Ethical Principles for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage, UNESCO

Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, UNESCO