Bills Digest no. 63 2015–16
PDF version [629KB]
WARNING: This Digest was prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments. This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.
Social Policy Section
8 December 2015
of the Bill
Policy position of non-government parties/independents
Position of major interest groups
Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights
Key issues and provisions
Date introduced: 12
House: House of
on the day after Royal Assent.
Links: The links to the Bill,
its Explanatory Memorandum and second reading speech can be found on the
Bill’s home page, or through the Australian
When Bills have been passed and have received Royal Assent, they
become Acts, which can be found at the ComLaw
The purpose of the Australian Institute of Torres Strait
Islander Studies Amendment Bill 2015 (the Bill) is to amend the Australian
Institute of Torres Strait Islander Studies Act 1989 (the Act)
change the functions and purpose of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) to provide a greater focus on the collection
and preservation of Indigenous culture and heritage, including requiring that
AIATSIS members have a demonstrated interest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander ‘culture and heritage’
reform AIATSIS’ governance arrangements, particularly the
procedure for electing and appointing Councillors and members of the Institute
abolish the Research Advisory Committee.
The most significant changes proposed by the Bill are to the
functions of AIATSIS and the abolition of the Research Advisory Committee, thus
removing the research function (with some exceptions) and research grants from
AIATSIS’ current functions are set out in section 5 of the
Act. They are:
undertake and promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies;
publish the results of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies and to
assist in the publication of the results of such studies;
conduct research in fields relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
studies and to encourage other persons or bodies to conduct such research;
assist in training persons, particularly Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait
Islanders, as research workers in fields relevant to Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander studies;
establish and maintain a cultural resource collection consisting of materials
relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies;
encourage understanding, in the general community, of Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander societies;
other functions as are conferred on the Institute by this Act;
do anything else that is incidental or conducive to the performance of any of
the preceding functions.
These functions are chiefly directed towards research, managing
research grants, training researchers and publishing the results of research.
This reflects the time at which AIATSIS, and before it the Australian Institute
of Aboriginal Studies, were established, when few if any universities or other
institutions were systematically conducting research on Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander history, culture and society.
According to the 2013–14 Review of AIATSIS, and the second
reading speech of the Bill, there are now a large number of other research
institutions, such as universities, conducting research on various matters
related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Given AIATSIS’ ability to directly support research has declined and its cultural
collection requires critical attention, the new functions direct AIATSIS much
more towards leadership and coordination of research by others, and curating
and making use of the existing collection. The new functions proposed by the
develop, preserve and provide access to a national collection of Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage;
use that national collection to strengthen and promote knowledge and
understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage;
provide leadership in the fields of:
and Torres Strait Islander research; and
ii) ethics and protocols for
research, and other activities relating to collections, related to Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander peoples; and
iii) use (including use for
research) of that national collection and other collections containing
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage;
lead and promote collaborations and partnerships among the academic, research,
non-government, business and government sectors and Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander peoples in support of the other functions of the Institute;
provide advice to the Commonwealth on the situation and status of Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage.
In keeping with the fact that research is no longer a major
constituent of the functions of AIATSIS, provisions in the Act which
established the Research Advisory Committee have been removed. The Research
Advisory Committee formerly advised AIATSIS’ Council on the distribution of
research grants and other research matters. The requirements of members of the Council
have also changed to promote more rapid turnover of membership and require
appointed members to have expertise relevant to AIATSIS’ functions.
The changes in functions and structure introduced by the
Bill can be seen as the government’s response to a number of Inquiry
recommendations relevant to AIATSIS, and changes within AIATSIS, over the last four
Role of AIATSIS
The following reviews have contributed to re-examining the
role of AIATSIS:
Strength in Innovation: Review of the national innovation system (The Cutler
In 2008, the Cutler Review, within a context of re-examining
the innovation landscape, made the following recommendation in relation to
Recommendation 7.13: The role of institutions such as the
Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)
should be broadened and strengthened in recognition of the special importance
of preserving Indigenous collections and the unique value of Indigenous
traditional knowledge and practices within Australia’s innovation system.
The Review of Higher Education
Access and Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People (The
Behrendt Review) 2012
The Review was concerned with examining and providing advice
on how to achieve parity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students,
researchers and academic and non-academic staff. It examined what can be done
across government, universities, business, professions and communities to
support all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to participate and
succeed in higher education and included the following recommendations relevant
to AIATSIS and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies researchers and
Recommendation 19: That the Australian Government continue to
support the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Studies (AIATSIS) to digitise and thus preserve its collection for future
generations and particularly for use in higher education, and encourage the
development of a national approach to data digitisation working with states,
territories and community groups to ensure that Indigenous knowledge be digitised
appropriately and preserved.
Recommendation 24: That the Australian Institute of
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) provide more formal
guidance to publicly funded research agencies, universities and researchers on
ethical research practice. This could include, for example, information on the
AIATSIS website of case studies and materials to assist Australian researchers.
Recommendation 27: That the Australian Research Council (ARC)
examine the adoption of a strategic approach to building capacity in Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander researchers across its funding programs, building on
the experiences of the National Health and Medical Research Council. The ARC
current barriers to winning competitive grants experienced by
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
whether available funding programs can better assist in
supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers achieve research
outcomes, particularly early career researchers
the performance of the new Discovery Indigenous scheme
whether ethical research practices are sufficiently supported
within its competitive grants and grant approval processes.
Recommendation 28: That the Australian Government undertake a
review of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Studies to consider how best to maintain AIATSIS’ unique place in developing
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academic and research activities and the
relationship it has with universities.
Our Land, Our Languages—Language
Learning in Indigenous Communities (House of Representatives Standing Committee
on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Report) 2012
This inquiry was into Indigenous Languages in Australia,
including their current status, their cultural and educational roles, and the
various government programs and policies relating to or impacting upon them.
Recommendation 28: Dedicated Indigenous language archive –
The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government include in the
2013-14 Budget increased resources for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Studies to carry out the storage and digitisation of
Indigenous language materials.
Recommendation 29: AIATSIS research funding – The Committee
recommends the Commonwealth Government consult with the Australian Institute of
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies to determine an appropriate and
sustainable funding model in order for it to recommence its research grants
program in the 2013-14 Budget.
Australian Institute of Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Studies Independent Review 2013
In 2013, the Department of Education commissioned an
independent review of AIATSIS by Acil Allen Consulting, as recommended by the
Behrendt review. Six of the review’s eleven terms of reference referred to
AIATSIS’ research role. The review’s recommendations, delivered in May 2014,
have directly shaped the current Bill. They include the recommendations:
AIATSIS’ role as the ‘key national and collecting research agency’
should be maintained (Recommendation 1)
the government should work with the ARC, the National Health and
Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and AIATSIS to make major grant streams more
accessible to community-based research (Recommendation 9)
AIATSIS should focus its research role on:
continuing to provide Indigenous Visiting Research Fellowships
for early-career Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academics (Recommendation
research specifically informed by its collection (Recommendation
community outreach (Recommendations 12, 13)
promoting collaboration with and between institutions (Recommendations
4, 5, 6, 9) and
promoting ethical research in Australian Indigenous Studies (Recommendations
that AIATSIS’ collection management and digitisation program
continue to be funded for the longer term (Recommendations 14, 15, 16)
- that AIATSIS review its committee structures and membership (Recommendations
17, 18) and
that AIATSIS investigate fundraising opportunities through
philanthropy and external partnerships (Recommendation 20).
AIATSIS welcomed the recommendations of the review,
although several significant recommendations included in its submission to the
review relating to expanding and funding its research program, were not part of
the final recommendations.
In 2012, AIATSIS suspended its annual research grant
program for the first time in over 20 years. The total grants issued in 2011
totalled only $564,571 and had been between $500,000 and just over $700,000
annually since 2003–04. Reasons cited by AIATSIS were reduced government
funding (in real terms) including the impact of efficiency dividends, and
internal review findings that the grant program had high administrative
overheads and was not meeting its intended purpose or current expectations from
Indigenous communities, researchers and AIATSIS priorities.
Funding was therefore diverted to higher priorities such as conservation of the
collection. This was greeted with dismay by some stakeholders in the Indigenous
Whether AIATSIS should continue to directly fund research in Indigenous Studies
appears to have been one of the more contentious points in the later 2014 independent
review by Acil Allen Consulting.
At the same time, AIATSIS was facing a crisis in its
ability to maintain its collection. Assessment by Significance International,
an independent cultural heritage assessor, in 2014 indicated that AIATSIS’
collection was the most extensive and best contextualised collection on
Indigenous Australians in the world.
The assessment also indicated that large parts of the collection were at ‘severe
to catastrophic risk of disintegration’, in particular early film and sound
recordings. Professor Mick Dodson, chairperson of AIATSIS, called for an
immediate injection of funds of around $15 million, of which approximately two-thirds
would be used for digitising the collection.
UNESCO, which lists the collection on the Memory of the World register, has
indicated that large parts of the AIATSIS magnetic media collection, including
film and audio, would need to be digitised before 2025 or they would become
Responding to the findings of the review and to the crisis
in the collection in his address to the National Press Club on 12 November
2014, ‘Before It's Too Late: A call to secure Australia's Indigenous heritage’,
Professor Dodson stated Australia needed ‘a comprehensive and urgent plan to
identify, gather, safe-keep and share, the Indigenous heritage of this nation’ and
that AIATSIS would ‘create the BITL [Before It’s Too Late] Mk3 Steering Group –
a small group which will include notable Australians, both Indigenous and
non-Indigenous, that we can call upon to help put the meat on the bones of this
Professor Dodson also announced the establishment of a
fundraising foundation, later named the AIATSIS Foundation, which was launched
by the Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove in May 2015. Based on the
statements of purpose of the Foundation (below), it appears that the
privately-supported Foundation will take over many of the responsibilities of
supporting Indigenous research, researchers and publications that were
previously the responsibility of AIATSIS under the Act. This may be in response
to Recommendations 10, 11 and 20 of the AIATSIS Review.
The Foundation’s purpose was described in Professor
Dodson’s speech as:
with technological innovators to import and develop futuristic engagements with
possible travelling exhibitions throughout the nation
opportunities for Indigenous students to train in the professional skills required
to maintain the collection and
significantly and most especially, raising support and funds for the
establishment, in the not too distant future, of an internationally iconic
building in Canberra to showcase, with substance, symbolism and significance,
the world’s oldest continuing cultures.
The Foundation’s purpose is described on its website as:
forging new partnerships in Australia and internationally the AIATSIS
Foundation will support innovative projects and new directions that will have
at the core deep engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
will include establishing prestigious internships and professional placements
to stimulate research on and into the collection
will build relationships with institutions and develop the capacity for co-creation
of publications, education resources, digital products and exhibitions
AIATSIS Foundation will underpin these efforts as well as raise support and
funds for the establishment of an internationally iconic building in Canberra
to showcase the world’s oldest continuing cultures with substance, symbolism
In response to the crisis in the collection and Recommendations
14 to 16 of the review, the Government provided additional funding of $8.3
million across the 2014-15 ($3.3 million)
and 2015-16 ($5 million) budgets to address immediate risks to the collection.
This was welcomed by the Labor Party. It is reported that a spokesman for the then
Education Minister Christopher Pyne stated that ‘the size and composition of
AIATSIS’ staffing arrangements will need to remain flexible and responsive to
emerging developments and priorities’.
Senate Standing Committee for the Selection
The Committee decided not to refer the Bill to a committee
Senate Standing Committee for the
Scrutiny of Bills
The Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills had no comment on
Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Shayne Neumann
spoke in support of the Bill in a second reading speech, but called attention
to the fact that AIATSIS’ research grants program had not been re-funded,
despite Recommendation 29 of the Our Land, Our Languages report (above)
that the program be recommenced. Mr Neumann stated:
...We support this amending legislation. When I was chair of
the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs, we
established an inquiry that looked into the loss of Indigenous language and
produced a report called Our land our languages. We had a bipartisan
approach, and we recommended in that report, handed down in 2012, that the
Commonwealth government consult with AIATSIS to determine an appropriate and
sustainable funding model for it to recommence its research grants in the
2013-14 budget... As I said, Labor have always supported AIATSIS. We support
these amendments which we believe will strengthen the governance of AIATSIS. We
commend the government for introducing this legislation into the chamber. We
hope this Bill signals an intent from the government to re-engage with the
institute and support its work in the future with a different approach to
funding. We also hope that it is the start of the government resetting its
approach to science, culture, heritage and language and that the government has
changed its perspective from what we saw in the 2014 budget. However, given the
government's abysmal treatment of publicly funded research in this country, we
remain concerned. But we do commend the government and support the legislation
before the chamber.
The Labor Party has previously welcomed the announcement
of additional funding to preserve AIATSIS’ collection.
AIATSIS has issued a statement supporting the Bill.
Professor Dodson stated:
The amendments have been negotiated between the government
and AIATSIS’ Council and executive...We’ll be working closely with our new
portfolio Minister, Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham, to implement the changes
seamlessly. They are designed to streamline AIATSIS’ functions so that we can
continue to effectively preserve, understand and communicate Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander heritage and culture for future generations.
No other stakeholders have yet made comments.
The Explanatory Memorandum states that the financial
impact of the measures are expected to be nil or insignificant. The amendments
in the Bill form part of a reform agenda for governance of the Institute and
may therefore create administrative efficiencies. 
Some provisions in the Bill are related to AIATSIS’ urgent
need to digitise and improve conservation of its collection. It is likely that
this will require further additional funding in future.
A potential indirect financial implication is that as
AIATSIS may no longer take a lead role in funding or publishing Indigenous
Studies research except where it pertains directly to its collection,
Indigenous Studies researchers will in future apply to other entities, like the
Australian Research Council, for funds. This would increase the already intense
competition for these funds and potentially reduce overall funding to the
Indigenous Studies sector if applicants are unsuccessful.
As required under Part 3 of the Human Rights
(Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 (Cth), the Government has assessed the
Bill’s compatibility with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared
in the international instruments listed in section 3 of that Act. The
Government considers that the Bill is compatible.
Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights
considers that the Bill does not raise human rights concerns.
The key issue with regard to the Bill is the refocussing of
the Institute’s responsibilities away from research and administering research
grants to more of a sector leadership role in research and to focussing on
building and preserving the collection of materials concerning the history of
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. The Government
argues that this will enable AIATSIS to complete the urgent task of adequately
conserving and utilising its cultural collection, which is its key asset and
point of difference from other institutions conducting Indigenous Studies.
The changes also mean that AIATSIS’ grants program, a
long-standing source of funds and resources for general Indigenous Studies
research will no longer be available. This is contrary to AIATSIS’ original
preferred outcome, expressed in its submission to the review of AIATSIS, of an
expanded and revitalised research grants program.
The Independent Review of AIATSIS received many submissions opposing the
earlier freezing of the grants program.
AIATSIS has in the past supported research and provided
public comment on Indigenous matters not directly connected to culture and heritage,
for example on Indigenous incarceration rates.
A significant proportion of previous research grants have concerned Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander history, health and wellbeing, and political and
The narrowing of its functions and membership to exclusive concern with Culture
and Heritage may limit its ability to support research or provide public
comment and leadership on such issues in future.
With the grants program removed, AIATSIS is unlikely to continue
to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies researchers and publications
about Aborigines and Torres Strait Islander issues. These specific
responsibilities are removed by the Bill, replaced with the less specific ‘Provide
leadership in the field of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research’, nor
has AIATSIS been appropriated extra funds to do so. From the description of the
Foundation’s purposes above, it appears supporting researchers will now be the
responsibility of the AIATSIS Foundation, which is dependent upon private
funding and is also fundraising to build a new museum/home for the collection.
The second reading speech notes that ‘many more academic, cultural and
community organisations and institutions’ are now involved in such work than in
1989 when the Act was enacted.
This suggests that in future, researchers not directly working upon the
collection will need to seek support elsewhere.
There is an ARC Discovery Grant program specifically for Indigenous
studies, worth approximately $5.5 million a year.
However, ARC Discovery grants are usually large grants gained by academics with
existing records of achievement, while the AIATSIS grant program previously
focussed upon a larger number of small grants to communities and early-career
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies researchers. For example, in 2014
the ARC Discovery Indigenous grant program made 10 grants with an average value
of $480,000 each,
while in 2011, the last year of the AIATSIS grants program, AIATSIS made 23
grants with an average value of $24,500 each.
Recommendation 9 of the Independent Review of AIATSIS is:
That the Australian Government consider whether current
research grants in the major funding streams (i.e. ARC and NHMRC) are being
made available, as appropriate, to community based research, and whether there
is a role for AIATSIS in the prioritisation and distribution of funding to
support community research.
If this recommendation, and the similar Recommendation 27
of the Behrendt review (above) are acted upon, it may allay these concerns.
Provisions limiting Councillors to a maximum of two terms will
require several high-profile current Councillors at to step down at the end of
their current terms, including Professor Mick Dodson and Emeritus Professor Bob
If the Bill were not passed and AIATSIS’ funding were not
increased, AIATSIS’ resources would continue to be spread across a larger
number of functions and its ability to focus on and devote its resources to
preserving, using and extending its Indigenous cultural heritage collection might
be hindered. This might place the collection at greater risk.
Items 1 and 6 amend section 3 of the Act by
removing the definitions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
and the Research Advisory Committee to enable the refocussing of the
AIATSIS’ functions. Items 3 and 5 repeal the definition of Principal
and replace this with a definition of Chief Executive Officer.
Functions of AIATSIS
Item 7 repeals the current functions of AIATSIS
contained in section 5 and substitutes with proposed section 5 a set of new
functions for AIATSIS which will take it in a different direction. Currently
the functions set out in section 5 encompass the research functions of AIATSIS.
These functions include conducting research in fields that are relevant to
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and publishing the results of
those studies. It is also responsible for training Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islanders as research workers in the field and as part of those
responsibilities to establish and maintain a cultural resource collection. It
promotes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies and encourages an
understanding in the general community of matters relating to Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander peoples. As part of these responsibilities, AIATSIS has
in the past managed the applications by prospective researchers as well as the
granting of research monies to persons approved by AIATSIS to do original
According to the AIATSIS submission to the independent
review, the AIATSIS Council in 2012 suspended the grants program due to a
series of issues regarding the program including high overheads, budget
constraints and a drop in the quality of applications submitted. The total
grants issued in 2011 totalled only $564,571. AIATSIS noted that excellent
grants of high cost or major research collaborations could not be supported and
the costs of managing the program relative to the amounts offered were higher
than other audited programs.
The AIATSIS Grants program was removed from the Australian Competitive Grants
because its expenditure fell below $1 million, which both decreased the
visibility of the grants and also meant research undertaken received a lower
ranking for the purposes of the Excellence for Research in Australia
Many communities, professional associations, researchers and other stakeholders
raised strong objections to the discontinuation of the program.
Proposed section 5 omits provisions related to the
grants function and focuses on the direction and purpose for AIATSIS in
developing, preserving and providing access to the national collection of
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage. It is now proposed
that AIATSIS use the collection to promote knowledge and understanding of
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage. It will provide
leadership in the fields of research, ethics and protocols for research and
other activities relating to collections. AIATSIS will provide leadership and
promote collaborations and partnerships among academic, research, government
and non‑government areas, business sectors and Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander peoples in support of the other functions of AIATSIS. It will
advise the Commonwealth on what is happening in relation to matters concerning
the status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage.
Appointment of Members of AIATSIS
Item 8 repeals subsection 7(1) of Part 4 of the
Act. Part 4 concerns the appointment of members to AIATSIS.
Currently paragraphs 7(1)(a) and (b) deal with persons who
were formerly members or associate members of the Australian Institute of
Aboriginal Studies before the commencement of section 7 and thereafter
considered to be members of AIATSIS. Paragraph 7(1)(c) provided for persons to
be appointed by the Council. Proposed subsection 7(1) provides
that subject to Part 4, members of AIATSIS will be persons appointed by the
Council. Item 11 repeals paragraphs 7(2)(c) and (d) which removes
references dealing with the Research Advisory Committee, which under section 7 advised
the Council on the appointment of persons as members.
Item 12 sets out application and transitional
provisions that concern the amendments to section 7 made by items 8 to
11. Subitem 12(1) provides that the amendments apply to the making
of appointments on or after commencement of the amendments as a result of
applications for membership made before, on or after commencement. Subitem
12(2) provides that the amendments to subsection 7(1) do not affect the
membership of a person who is a member immediately before the commencement of
Appointment of Members to the
Item 16 repeals paragraphs 12(1)(a), (b) and (c)
which deal with how the Council is constituted. Currently the makeup of the
Council consists of four persons elected by members of AIATSIS, one person who
is a Torres Strait Islander appointed by the Minister and four other persons
who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders appointed by the Minister. Item
16 substitutes proposed paragraphs 12(1)(a), (b) and (c). Proposed
paragraph 12(1)(a) provides that two members of AIATSIS who are
Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander persons can be elected by AIATSIS members
to the Council. Proposed paragraph 12(1)(b) provides that two persons
who are members who may or may not be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
persons can be elected by members of AIATSIS. Proposed paragraph 12(1)(c)
provides for the appointment of five persons to the Council by the Minister.
The persons are to have skills or experience in one or more of the following:
The number of Council members proposed above is the same
as the current number.
Item 17 inserts proposed subsections
12(1A) and (1B). Proposed subsection 12(1A) provides that the
Minister must ensure, when making an appointment to the Council, that at least
five of the Councillors are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander persons and at
least one of the Councillors is a Torres Strait Islander person. Proposed
subsection 12(1B) provides that a person cannot be elected or appointed as a
Councillor if the term of appointment starts immediately after two consecutive
terms of office. Currently under section 15, a Councillor holds office for a
period not exceeding four years.
Item 18 contains transitional and application
provisions for Councillors. Subitem 18(1) provides that the amendments
to section 12 (constitution of the Council) made by items 16 and 17
do not affect the continuity in office of Councillors who held office
immediately before the commencement of the amendments. Those persons continue
to serve their terms of appointment. Subitem 18(2) provides that changes
to paragraphs 12(1)(a) and (b) apply to elections for Councillors after the end
of their terms of office of all elected Councillors who held office prior to
commencement. Subitem 18(3) provides that proposed paragraph 12(1)(c)
and proposed subsection 12(1A) apply in relation to making appointments on or
after the commencement of this Schedule. Subitem 18(4) provides that
proposed subsection 12(1B) applies to elections and appointments for terms that
start on or after the commencement of this Schedule whether earlier consecutive
terms mentioned in that provision occurred wholly or partly before or after
that commencement. Terms of appointment occurring wholly or partly before or
after commencement will be taken into account.
Research Advisory Committee
Item 28 repeals Part 8 of the Act. Part 8
contains the provisions relating to the Research Advisory Committee, its
establishment, constitution and functions. The Committee was established under
subsection 31(1) of Part 8 and currently consists of twelve members: three
members of the Council, eight members of AIATSIS and the Principal of AIATSIS
(appointed under Part 6 of the Act).
The functions of the Committee are contained in section 32. The functions of
the Committee are to assess applications for research grants and to make
recommendations in relation to those applications to the Council. The Committee
also advised the Council on research matters and in relation to applications
for membership of AIATSIS.
The current members of the Committee are:
The Principal—Mr Russell Taylor
Council Appointment 1—Emeritus Prof Robert
Council Appointment 2—Mr Kado Muir
Council Appointment 3—Professor Cindy Shannon
Health and Wellbeing—Prof Len Collard
Education and Socio Economic Institutions—Dr Peter
Arts and Creative Expression—Associate Prof
Native Title and Traditional Ownership—Dr Sally
Economics, Industry and Development—Prof Dennis
Language and Cultural Transmission—Prof Regina
Land, Water and Environment—Dr Fiona Walsh
Governance, Law and Justice—Prof Larissa Behrendt 
The Bill is supported by the current Councillors of
AIATSIS and the Labor Party. Some researchers in the Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander studies sector have previously expressed strong opposition to
AIATSIS no longer making grants for research, and the Labor Party has also
noted the cessation of the research grant funding program.
However, a resumption of the grants program in the same form was not supported
by the Independent Review of AIATSIS.
The Bill is likely to reduce the pool of funds available
for more general Indigenous research, as it appears AIATSIS will no longer
administer general research grants. This will particularly affect Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander communities seeking support for research, and
independent and early career Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies
researchers who may not have the university affiliation or track record to
receive a grant from the ARC. This problem could be allayed by government
action on Recommendation 9 of the Independent Review of AIATSIS, which
recommends that the government work with the ARC, NHMRC and AIATSIS to make
grants more accessible to community-based research.
The Bill’s redefinition of AIATSIS’ functions may also lessen
AIATSIS’ ability to provide general public leadership and input into Indigenous
Members, Senators and Parliamentary staff can obtain
further information from the Parliamentary Library on (02) 6277 2500.
. Australian Institute of
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Act 1989, accessed 1 December
Rose and M McMillan, Australian
Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies: independent review,
report prepared for the Department of Education, Acil Allen Consulting, May
2014, p. iii, 29; L Hartsuyker, ‘Second
reading speech: Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Studies Amendment Bill 2015’, House of Representatives, Debates, (proof),
12 November 2015, pp. 3–4, both accessed 20 November 2015.
Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Amendment Bill 2015,
first reading, accessed 8 December 2015.
Australia—building strength in innovation: review of the national innovation
system (Cutler Review), report prepared for the Department of Industry,
Innovation, Science and Research (DIISR), Cutler & Company, North
Melbourne, 2008, p. 97, accessed 24 November 2015.
Behrendt, S Larkin, R Griew and P Kelly, Review
of higher education access and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander people: final report, report prepared for the Department of
Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIISRTE),
DIISRTE, Canberra, 2012, p. ix, xxii-xxiii, accessed 27 November 2015.
of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
land, our languages—language learning in indigenous communities, The
House of Representatives, Canberra, September 2012, p. xxii, accessed 27
Rose and M McMillan, op. cit., p. v–viii.
to Acil Allen Consulting, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Studies: independent review (AIATSIS Review), 2014,
accessed 24 November 2015.
Rose and M McMillan, op. cit., p.29–34.
example, R Gosford, ‘The
slow death of Aboriginal research? AIATSIS suspends research grants’, The
Northern Myth, blog, 22 January 2012, accessed 23 November 2015.
of Significance’, AIATSIS website, 21 August 2014, accessed 19 November
collections could be lost: More funding crucial to save audio, film’, The
Sunday Canberra Times, 7 December 2014, p. 3, accessed 30 November 2015.
Collections Program, AIATSIS
collection management plan 2013–2016, AIATSIS, Canberra, 2013, p. 35,
accessed 30 November 2015.
it's too late: A call to secure Australia's Indigenous heritage,
speech, National Press Club, Canberra, 12 November 2014, accessed 30 November
‘Why a foundation’,
AIATSIS website, accessed 22 November 2015.
Pyne (Minister for Education), Securing
the funding and future of Australian research, media release, 13 May
2014, accessed 7 December 2015.
Pyne (Minister for Education and Training), New
funding to preserve Indigenous cultural materials, media release, 29
April 2015, accessed 30 November 2015.
Carr (Shadow Minister for Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Industry),
welcomes AIATSIS funding, media release, 29 April 2015,
accessed 30 November 2015.
collections could be lost’, op. cit.
Standing Committee on the Selection of Bills, Report,
16, 2015, 3 December 2015, accessed 1 December 2015.
Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills, Alert
digest, 13, 2015, 25 November 2015, p. 2, accessed 1 December 2015.
reading speech: Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Studies Amendment Bill 2015’, House of Representatives, Debates,
(proof), 30 November 2015, pp. 68–70, accessed 7 December 2015.
welcomes AIATSIS funding, op. cit.
for AIATSIS Act, media release, 16 November 2015, accessed 20 November
Financial Impact Statement can be found at page 2 of the Explanatory Memorandum
to the Bill.
Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights can be found at pages 3–6 of the
Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill.
Joint Committee on Human Rights, Thirty-first
report of the 44th Parliament, 24 November 2015, p. 2, accessed 1
to AIATSIS Review, op. cit., p. 3–4.
Rose and M McMillan, op. cit., p. vi.
incarceration, media release, 4 March 2014, accessed 19 November 2015.
Rose and M McMillan, op. cit., p. 29.
Hartsuyker, ‘Second reading speech: Australian Institute of Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Studies Amendment Bill 2015’, op. cit.
Research Council Budget statements 2015–16, Australian Research
Council, p. 168, accessed 23 November 2015.
Rose and M McMillan, op. cit., p. 20.
Rose and M McMillan, op. cit., p. 30.
Rose and M McMillan, op. cit., p. vi.
to AIATSIS Review, op. cit., p. 36.
2010 review of the Australian Competitive Grants Register conducted by the
Higher Education Data Advisory Committee changed the budget threshold for all
eligible schemes to $1 million or more per annum. Department of Education,
Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), 2010
Review of the Australian Competitive Grants Register, DEEWR, 2010, accessed
25 November 2015.
research for Australia’, ARC website: The ARC is responsible
for administering Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA),
Australia’s national research evaluation framework. ERA identifies and promotes
excellence across the full spectrum of research activity in Australia’s higher
education institutions... The first full round of ERA occurred in 2010 and the
results were published in early 2011. This was the first time a nationwide
stock take of discipline strengths and areas for development had ever been
conducted in Australia. There have been two subsequent rounds of ERA in 2012
and 2015. The results from each ERA round are published in the ERA 2010
National Report, and the ERA 2012 National Report, which are available online
at ARC, ‘ERA reports’, ARC website, updated 4 December 2015, accessed 7 December 2015.
Rose and M McMillan, op. cit., p. vi.
Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Amendment Bill 2015,
3, 5, 14 and 20 to 23 of the Bill replace references to the ‘Principal’
with ‘Chief Executive Officer’.
Advisory Committee’, AIATSIS website, accessed 26 November 2015.
reading speech: Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Studies Amendment Bill 2015’, op. cit.
Rose and M McMillan, op. cit., p. vi.
For copyright reasons some linked items are only available to members of Parliament.
© Commonwealth of Australia
With the exception of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, and to the extent that copyright subsists in a third party, this publication, its logo and front page design are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia licence.
In essence, you are free to copy and communicate this work in its current form for all non-commercial purposes, as long as you attribute the work to the author and abide by the other licence terms. The work cannot be adapted or modified in any way. Content from this publication should be attributed in the following way: Author(s), Title of publication, Series Name and No, Publisher, Date.
To the extent that copyright subsists in third party quotes it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.
Inquiries regarding the licence and any use of the publication are welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: Bills Digests are prepared to support the work of the Australian Parliament. They are produced under time and resource constraints and aim to be available in time for debate in the Chambers. The views expressed in Bills Digests do not reflect an official position of the Australian Parliamentary Library, nor do they constitute professional legal opinion. Bills Digests reflect the relevant legislation as introduced and do not canvass subsequent amendments or developments. Other sources should be consulted to determine the official status of the Bill.
Any concerns or complaints should be directed to the Parliamentary Librarian. Parliamentary Library staff are available to discuss the contents of publications with Senators and Members and their staff. To access this service, clients may contact the author or the Library‘s Central Entry Point for referral.